Last week I stumbled across an article describing how ASUS was poised to enter the electronic book market and take on Amazon’s successful Kindle. One critical (and useful) difference with ASUS’ upcoming model is that it follows the traditional fold-open book form factor rather than Kindle’s slate shape, but a possibly more alluring feature is its color display. There is also mention of it possibly sporting speakers and a webcam for internet video chatting or Voice over IP (VoIP)– at a retail cost half of Kindle’s $300 USD. !
As a longtime user of ASUS motherboards I’m impressed with their workmanship and hope it translates to this product line. ASUS also has the brand recognition I believe to attract early interest to these products, especially if the proposed price and feature set make it to market.
On a related but more speculative note, this thread at talk.maemo.org introduced me to the Microsoft Courier. Check that engadget photo out. Deja vu, anyone? It’s also going to have to compete with Sony, whatever Apple eventually amazes us with and others.
Some pundits confuse the prospects of these devices with those of smaller handhelds like the upcoming Nokia N900, but while the latter may function as a usable eBook that’s not its primary purpose and the smaller screens can degrade the book experience for many. Likewise, the difference in portability will compound the insurance that the two families will occupy mostly distinct usage environs with only slight functionality overlap.
This particular product type has been promised as far back as I can remember, as a big-dreaming teenager inhaling as many science fiction paperbacks as I could afford. I’m encouraged by the final arrival of this cool technology but concerned over what it might mean for future human eyesight. At least paper doesn’t glare at you…