Re: e-books, hardbacks or paperbacks our thoughts.
[quote = DFS]I think dedicated ereaders will be around for quite awhile. They have 3 major selling points over other devices at this point in time, these selling points are also technological sticking points. Battery life is quite fantastic, e-ink readability, and price. Until these things can be replicated on other platforms or more multiple use devices I really do not see them being ousted anytime soon.[/quote]
In the comparison between dedicated reader and a general purpose device (whether sit apparatus started its conceptual existence as a cut-down lapptop, a telephone, a personal organiser or a pad) is multifaceted.
Firstly, size. We all have jackets with pockets the right size for a mass-market paperback, obviously (of about two hundred pages, not one of the doorstop monstrosities that seem fashionable nowadays) or equivalent space in a handbag or backpack; part of being a reader. And we're accustomed to that size page. Not that we can't reaccustom, but habits are warm and comfortable…
A dedicated reader can closely approach the experience, while a phone or organiser has a lot fewer words at a time, (or teeny little ones) and a webbook won't fit into anything smaller than a briefcase. This is no criticism of the designers. A general purpose device has to have a more sophisticated interface (well, punch card readers possibly- but I'm not convinced) and the ASCII keyboard is so established in the minds and fingers of users that replacing, or shrinking, it would require as much reeducation as changing the musician's piano black and whites.
The generalised apparatus would mean I could use it as a mobile writing machine, as well as just reading, in exchange for not being able to put it in my pocket – an exchange I've not yet decided if I want to make.
eInk, with a zero refresh cycle, is easier on the eyes and the battery than conventional (Uh, conventional? How long has it been around to acquire that label?) LCD technology, but less impressive for colour, or anything that requires animation.
The pads (no, I've no real experince with them) seem at first sight to be too big to fit into a pocket, while too small for a decent keyboard, while using battery power like their full-scale bretheren.
Multi-purpose machines always seem to accumulate junk which slows them down. In theory a dedicated eReader would only collect books – lots and lots of them – while the operating system would remain clear of cookies, junk mail, spam cans…
So, it should always be using the same minimalist software, and always work as well (or as annoyingly) as the day it was delivered. A software which is only for text display can be made almost virus proof, low CPU use (which means slower clock rate, and in turn still longer battery life), aqnd the communications protocols and standards converters required should not, hopefully, degrade this too far.