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Asus Plans Dual Screen, Sub £100 eBook Reader

Gordon Kelly

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Asus Plans Dual Screen, Sub £100 eBook Reader

If you can't beat them, join them?

There is some debate over whether the eBook can beat the book (I'd say its economically, environmentally and logistically inevitable), but it seems that Asus believes the humble book can still teach the eBook reader a thing or two...

The hugely diverse electronics manufacturer has this week unveiled its first entry into the digital reader market and the form factor is rather familiar. With its dual screens and foldable spine, the as yet unnamed model looks set to shake up the industry with the company proclaiming it could retail for just £100 - nearly half the cost of the cheapest readers currently.

Beyond familiarity, the dual screen approach could also have a number of practical benefits. Amongst the mooted applications are the ability to browse the web on one page while keeping the page of your book open on the other and using one screen as a large virtual keyboard making the reader somewhat akin to a laptop. Clever stuff.

Talk is that this new reader will debut in time for Christmas and may be just one of a number of Asus' models. This sector is hotting up...

Link:

via The Times

Keldon

September 8, 2009, 5:04 am

I thought the main appeal of e-bbok reader (well to me anyway) is the use of these "e-ink" (hate the term) screens that use very little power?





This just looks like a dual screen laptop that folds in the middle! Still a neat idea but an e-book for me needs to last weeks of casual use without a charge :D

Gordon394

September 8, 2009, 5:49 am

@Keldon - I get that viewpoint, but eBook readers are already topping 8,000 page turns on a single charge (that's not just weeks of casual use, that's months and months). Divide that by two for dual screens and that's still months and months.





The content in the product shot is mocked up by The Guardian (note the Guardian home page grab), I'd be surprised if it ships with colour screens.

Stewart

September 8, 2009, 12:03 pm

The mock up looks more like The Times Online (so does your link....)

SweetFA

September 8, 2009, 12:33 pm

erm do you mean The Times?

davidh

September 8, 2009, 1:10 pm

Blimey, The Guardian has changed..........

Ryan131

September 8, 2009, 1:55 pm

Eee-book, anyone?





Anyone?





I'll get my coat...

StephenW

September 8, 2009, 2:18 pm

I must say, my first reaction was 'Well, what use is it with two LCD displays?'. If it's just a mock up and the person doing it didn't realise the significance of e-ink displays in readers...then ok. I'd be very grateful if the two disaplys could act as a single large display area for PDF and image files. I fear my luck, however, is not that good.

Chris

September 8, 2009, 3:06 pm

@Ryan: Sorry, I think Gordon beat you to it on that gag, see previous Eee-book article :)





I think the idea of a reader that folds at the 'spine' is pointless and not a little kitsch. It will add bulk, complexity and cost and it's completely unnecessary.





I would also say that an e-book reader is pointless without an 'e-ink' display, not just to extend battery life but also because the display doesn't require a backlight and is easier on the eyes as such. I'm sure Asus know this, unlike The Guardian...

Keldon

September 8, 2009, 4:39 pm

@Gordon Ahh ok didnt realise it was a mock up! If it ship with a traditional E-Ink display for £100 or under I will buy one :)

Old Pedantry

September 8, 2009, 4:59 pm

Must be just me then, I'd certainly have one. This has potential for any scenario where you want to compare one document with another - business documents, text books, your own notes, any combination of those - or just have more than one document open and visible. In the lo-tech world I can do that with a few bits of paper on a desk, but not on a single-page e-reader. To be honest I've had my fingers crossed that some manufacturer tries putting additional (flexi-screen) pages in the middle, like a 4- or 6-page book, where you can "hold" pages or parts of documents on each page, and/or incorporate the page-turning paradigm into the UI.

Chris

September 8, 2009, 5:22 pm

@Old Pedantry: I can see where you're coming from and that does sound useful, but I don't know if any of those features will materialise. They sound more like 'business' productivity features, whereas e-book readers (particularly cheap ones) are squarely aimed at consumers. I think Asus have just added the spine to make it appeal to people who are used to reading from the book 'form factor'. Maybe they'll even be cheesy enough to include some kind of page turning gesture...


Hopefully they'll prove me wrong.

Gordon394

September 8, 2009, 5:34 pm

Times/Guardian, Guardian/Times - it's all just slight left/right leaning variations on moderate politics ;)

Andy0d2

September 8, 2009, 7:46 pm

That isn't the guardians mock up. Asus made their own earlier this year at CeBIT.


See link - http://www.engadget.com/2009/0...

Chris

September 8, 2009, 8:52 pm

@Andrew Violet: Thanks for that. The link you posted indicates that the picture is actually a touchscreen netbook running Windows 7? For less than £100?!? Not likely.





I detect some confusion going on here. Are we looking at one product or two?

mikfrak

September 9, 2009, 9:53 am

The people behind the One Laptop per Child project have been working on a new simplified laptop device using two touch sensitive LCD screens that fold into a book format. This looks suspiciously like the device they have been working on. The design also seems to envisage using new LCD screens which combine the readability of e-paper and the low manufacturing cost of conventional LCDs. When the company Pixel Qi, backed by some of the designers from One Laptop per Child project, demonstrated their new screens in bright sunlight earlier this year they used Asus laptops to do it. Perhaps this device is the first commercial application of Pixel Qi's new technology. And if they use ARM CPUs (like the ones used in mobile phones and the iPod) and run Linux or Google Android on them, then the extremely low price suggested might just be feasible. Especially if the price is subsidised by a subscription model for Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, the way set top box and mobile phone prices are kept low by subscription for phone services. The Pixel Qi website also claims that its new screen will appear in ebooks in late 2009. Just put two and two together...

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