The eInk reader market is about to get a bit more crowded. Today at the DEMO conference Plastic Logic gave a preview of the e-reader device they expect to ship in 2009. The focus here seems to be all about form factor, and I don't get it...
I've been using the Kindle's 3-1/2 x 4-3/4" screen for awhile now and I've never stopped to wish the darned thing was larger. Never. I'm not just reading books on here either. It's a mix of newspapers, magazines, books and business documents, the latter apparently being a big selling point for the Plastic Logic device. Would it be nice to see PowerPoint slides on my Kindle? I guess, but just like the Plastic Logic device, they'd be rendered in black-and-white so they'd lose a lot of their impact. They're also hyping the thinness factor on Plastic Logic's reader. There again, I've never wished my Kindle was just a bit thinner.
I almost titled this post, "It's the Content, Stupid!", because I want to hear more about what content sources Plastic Logic is building their service around. I like that they've included wireless as a feature but will they have as many content options as the 140K+ books as well as dozens of newspapers and magazines Amazon currently offers for the Kindle? If not, is e-reader access to your business docs really a compelling enough feature to make this one a winner?
On a related note, I recently had the priviledge of getting a sneak preview of a soon-to-be-released e-doc platform and tool from a major vendor. The thing that kept crossing my mind was, "all of these features are so cool...nobody's going to use them on their computer though, so when will the be offered on the Kindle, Sony Reader, etc.?" The answer is, of course, "not for quite awhile." I'm talking about embedded video, audio, color and other nifty bells and whistles. The eInk platform is many generations behind what you can do in something as simple as a PDF file. While I love that eInk is easy on my eyes I hate it that it's holding us back from implementing some truly outstanding features on these e-readers. The market for reading books on a computer is tiny, so I hope eInk (or some other provider) can figure out how to implement these features on an e-reader before too long.