O’Reilly TOC covers e-book news; Sharp’s President talks about new e-reader

sharpreader The O’Reilly Tools of Change blog has launched a new weekly column covering at e-book news. This week’s column looks at the Samsung E60’s UK release by WHSmith, the $70 price cut for the Aluratek Libre (from $169 to $99), the new Laser EB101 device in Australia, the Pocketbook announcement we covered earlier, and a couple of brief notes about the Blio and the new Sony Readers.

One reader that isn’t mentioned in the O’Reilly article is the new Sharp device (pictured above). Sharp’s President Mikio Katayama becomes the latest electronics exec to trash-talk the iPad, claiming the device will “rival” Apple’s tablet and may well feature a color LCD display and possibly even glassesless 3D. (Cool, that would mean we could finally read Google Books without needing special goggles!)

5 Comments on O’Reilly TOC covers e-book news; Sharp’s President talks about new e-reader

  1. Tangentially, the TOC blog described the new sony readers “both utilize E Ink® Vizplex™ screen technology to deliver an amazing, paper-like display similar to that available from the Amazon Kindle”.

    The vizplex screen is actually the old e-ink screen and is not the same as the new pearl screen. I suspect that the new sony readers will actually use the newer pearl screens, otherwise that would be a complete failure on sony’s part.

    From the e-ink product page, the pearl screen actually appears to be a new imaging film, not just a software/firmware update:

    http://www.eink.com/products/matrix/High_Res.html

  2. MarkChan: If the Sonys come with Vizplex rather than Pearl, I wouldn’t be so harsh at judging Sony. There have been rumors floating that Amazon has bought up the entire early production runs of Pearl films.

    Those are just rumors, and we’ll see. But a new technology like that takes time to ramp up into big production numbers, and Amazon is going to need a lot of Pearl films for their Kindle 3s. Amazon might have bought them all just out of necessity, with no anti-competitive intent (although I’m sure they wouldn’t mind those side effects).

  3. @Doug: Sony usually only releases new devices on a yearly basis and they have already stated that they will not be competing on price. This leaves only a few other things they can compete on – the device or the service.

    Amazon has a huge advantage on service with their system of simplicity and continuous updates. When it comes to the device, I think the screen is really the most important followed closely by the user interface and speed. If Sony can’t produce a screen that is comparable to the new K3, they will lose out on all three factors, thus leading to an inferior device and further market loss.

    Personally, I have the 505 and still think it is the best device for my needs. However, it is showing its age and will need to be replaced in the next 6 months. I would like to replace it with another sony reader, however, one of my “must haves” will be a Pearl eink screen with better resolution and speed than my current Vizplex screen.

    As for the rumours regarding availability, Felix and I talked about this on one of the earlier threads here and it is definitely a possibility and would be a huge win for Amazon’s market share. I still think Sony wouldn’t compromise on the design of the device over the lack of screen availability. I think they would more likely simply delay shipping of their device until more supply came. In the end, we will have to wait a bit more until the official press unveiling of the new devices to see what they offer.

  4. MarkChan: The Pearl film is superior in contrast (10:1 vs. 6:1), but “better resolution and speed than my current Vizplex screen” are not part of the package. According to E-Ink, the resolution of the 6″ Pearl is the same 800×600 as the 6″ Vizplex, and the speed is virtually the same: grayscale is <1 second for both, and 1-bit mode is 250 msec. vs. 280 msec. for Vizplex.

    The Pearl is only available in 4-bit gray scale (16 shades), where Vizplex is available in both 3- and 4-bit (8 or 16 shades). I believe that your 505 has the 3-bit Vizplex, so that would be an improvement for you. Both Kindle 2 and NOOK already have 4-bit Vizplex.

  5. @Doug: sorry I meant contrast, not resolution. My bad. :-)

    In the end for me it won’t be enough to stay with sony if they can’t incorporate the best screen possible, in this case, the pearl imaging film. Maybe for others, the vizplex will work priced at a higher point above most other competitors.

    In terms of speed, the K3 is definitely faster and more responsive than the previous models. Just take a look at the you tube reviews of it. Whatever they did to improve that speed, I can only expect that sony will also improve the speed of their devices compared to a model that is several generations behind.

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