Converting an iPad into a Paperless NotePad

In October last year e-Fun showed off their aPen A5 an iPad digitiser that converts the iPad into what looks like a very useable and convenient notepad… although I was somewhat surprised (suspicious) to see them using Byzero’s Studio Basic + iPad app, after all they must be a competitor? or are they using the same tech?

ByZero’s Studio i Pen looks a bit more up-market and has a sleeker looking design, but it’s $149, while the aPen A5 is expected to hit the market at $89-$99. Details on both pens are as rare as hen’s teeth and trying to track down a way to purchase Byzero’s Studio i Pen is almost impossible! (Amazon’s the only place according to Google)

So as expected with CES underway e-Fun are showing off the aPen A5 and surprise surprise they’re using the same artwork and marketing images as Studio i Pen? So it’s pretty obvious that theses are exactly the same products. So if you want to save yourself $60 grab the eFun aPen A5. Plus unlike the A1, A2, A3 & A4 models, the A5 doesn’t need a pad of paper to work, you write directly on the iPad screen.

Links:
e-Fun
e-Fun aPen A5
Byzero

Bye-bye Kindle, E-reader Screens Coming for Netbooks

The snippet below is taken from an article on PC World

Netbook makers will soon play a larger role in the e-reader market if start-up Pixel Qi has anything to say about it.

The first Pixel Qi product, called 3qi, is a 10.1-inch netbook screen designed to work in three modes: a black-and-white e-ink mode for reading text documents and e-books, and two color modes, designed for use indoors or in bright sunlight, that are more suitable for Web surfing and video playback.

E-ink mode extends battery life by shutting off the backlight, and is intended for reading e-books, documents, Web sites or blogs and other text-based material.

more info:
Pixel QI Blog
Pixel QI
PC World

Kindle for iPhone

aha looks like Amazon are playing both sides of the fence, they said they’d offer the Kindle services in non-Kindle devices, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be so soon.

The iPhone app is free, so saves you forking out $360 for a Kindle, it can access all of the eBook content available on Amazon (although strangely you cannot do this through the application itself, you have to use the web browser), the application then copies the files from your account. A terrific feature named Whispersync, keeps your current location in a book in sync with the Amazon servers,  so those that own a Kindle can keep both in sync, including notes. Unfortunately it only reads Amazon’s proprietary formats and is limited to North America, but without having to worry about a hardware distribution chain for the iPhone app, this may be a simple way for Amazon to spread their Kindle market share worldwide, let’s hope so!

more info here:

Google
Washington Post
CNET
Mac World
PC World

Fujitsu Explores eNewspaper potential at cafe

Fujitsu Ltd are testing coloured ePaper readers in a cafe in Japan.

Customers of “Termina Kinshicho Fujiya Restaurant” can pick up the terminals equipped with a color electronic paper module on the tables and browse newspapers and advertisements wirelessly sent to the terminals. The four companies will verify whether the electronic paper module can be accepted as a terminal for reading newspapers and other content, and whether the service can promote sales and boost customer satisfaction.

Users can read the newspapers by operating the terminal while waiting for their orders, or enjoy viewing the advertisements and timetables that are automatically switched to a different screen every several minutes when the terminal is not being operated, such as when the users are eating.

Full story here Tech On

The Kindle 2 vs Google Books

So what’s changed with the Kindle?

It’s thinner (thinner than an iPhone!), it’s has more memory, a 25% longer battery life, it can read to you (as long as you don’t mind Steven Hawkins or his twin sister reading to you that is) and thankfully, it doesn’t look like it was made in the 1980′s anymore.

What hasn’t changed. It still costs $359, it’s still only available in the USA, it’s still locked to a limited proprietary file format, it’s still tied to a wireless only subscription service.

Then Google come along and launch their GoogleBooks portal. Which if I’m honest is a library of 1.5 million copyright free books or documents that very few will actually read. It’s a bit of a half arsed attempt if you ask me. Books that have been scanned and converted to long bitmaps that you scroll through on your iPhone or Android Phone (ensure you’re on an unlimited data service, as bitmaps are much larger than free flowing text). From a user’s perspective the entire interface, search & delivery is appalling, something you’d expect from a DIY web enthusiast, not one of the world’s leading software development companies.

So all in all a disappointing day. Amazon haven’t given us much except a thinner better looking Kindle, while Google has released a service that is shockingly bad to say the least. Which is strange, as the eBook Reader market is potentially huge, yet neither of these mammoth companies seem ready to cash in on it. Granted Google doesn’t have a hardware offering to worry about, for them it’s content driven, but content nobody wants isn’t going to attract users. Amazon have hardware margins to recoup and make a slice from each book sold or newspaper subscription, but they’re not exactly pushing the envelope, they’re simply staying one step ahead of Sony.

Rather than strangle holding the Kindle with their wireless network & closed file format, they should open it up so users can also put their own content on the device. I know they’re trying to hold onto and control the subscription services, but that’s a very shortsighted approach, they won’t be able to hold onto that for long.

I guess we’ll have to launch our no paper services earlier than anticipated, that might rock the boat a little!

Various News snippets:
Telegraph: Kindle 2
Times online

Tech radar

Google put 1.5 Million books in reach of your iphone

Google Books

Amazon to reKindle it’s love affair with eBooks

Well it’s not exactly new news, but in case you’ve missed it, it would appear that on Monday 9th, Amazon will eventually announce the Kindle 2, whether they announce the much rumoured free “premium subscription” Kindle is anyone’s guess.

For more info, ahem, “rumours”, check out the links below.

Engadget:
Amazon to host press event at library, innocently whistling when asked about Kindle 2

Citigroup analyst says 500,000 Kindles were sold in 2008

Appleinsider:
Amazon rumoured to introduce Kindle 2 next Monday

Boy Genius Report:
Amazon Kindle 2 may be coming on February 9th

image from Boy Genius Report

There’s more to eBooks than Books!

Here’s an interesting snippet of news, Verizon is looking for eBook Reader partners for it’s Open Development program. This approach would of course take Amazon’s Kindle head on, which is great news for consumers everywhere, but there’s a comment at the end asking can anyone take on Amazon, as they have existing relationships with publishers, but I don’t think that’s a problem.

I don’t see the future of eBook Readers as simply devices that hold numerous published books, that’s a tiny market compared to blogs, news, internal company files & manuscripts. Having a device that can remotely connect and download the latest files off your company servers or collate the news for you from your preferred news networks etc when you’re on the road is a great asset. eBook-Readers will be the mainstay for the business traveler, road warrior or remote technician/support staff, that requires up to date information on a device which batteries won’t run out after only a few hours!

Forget literature & published books, think information, think unpublished content, think business documents, think data retrieval, think user generated content, think open formats, think free content! It’s estimated we read 10 times as much business documentation than we do compared to books for leisure, so Amazon may have relationships with book publishers but there’s a huge untapped market out there waiting to be accessed!

Foxit eSlick Reader Announced

Foxit Software announced today that it will be selling it’s very own branded eBook Reader, the eSlick Reader for the amazingly low introductory price of only $229.99 (then $259.99), which is incredible when compared to Sony’s eReader $399 and Amazon’s Kindle $359.

The eSlick has a 6 inch, 600×800 pixel screen, which uses the same display technology as the Kindle as supplied by E Ink Corporation. The unit weights just 6.4 ounces (180g) and is only 0.4 inches thick (9.2mm). It has 128meg of memory, capapble of holding hundreds of books, with a battery life of over 8,000 page turns.

The eSlick is expected to ship in 5-7 weeks, but unfortunately will only be available within the US.

For more details visit Foxit Software