Thursday, January 24, 2008

Readius -- The Scroll Is Back

Everything old is new again: a reading platform that starts out the size of a pack of cigarettes (I know, it is politically incorrect to even use that c-word)and expands to a full 5 inch screen. 


readius closed


Photos of the so-called Readius prototype have been kicking around for a while. I couldn't have told you the thing was called Readius® but I did know that it was a small light reader with a roll up screen and just eight buttons!

What's not to like about the idea other than the fact that it isn't OLED based?  But I won't bore you with my particular hobby horse.

OLED or not, you still get a small, light thing to carry around.  A gadget that combines high resolution and long battery life -- always a winner.

Secretly, I've wanted one since I saw the first prototype.  If nothing else you have to admit that there is a real "coolness" factor to that roll up screen.

Looks like I might actually be able to get one soon.  According to a Reuters story earlier this week, the Readius will be available for sale by this summer.

The word is that it is really a cell phone that handles eBooks, RSS feeds, email and audio files.  Added features include a 30 hour battery life, an SD slot and it's very own portal.

According to Karl McGoldrick, chief executive of Polymer Vision:  "We are taking e-reading and bringing it to the mobile phone." 

Coolness not withstanding, before I get too excited there are a few question I want answered:

  • About that portal:  what exactly do they mean by  "the portal allows users to personally configure the Readius® User Interface and design content and services to their own style and needs"?
  • About reading:  What eReader software will I be able to use?  Will I be able to read my Mobipocket or PDF files?  Even the protected (DRM'd) files?
  • About eCommerce: Will I be able to buy eBooks, news services and subscriptions anywhere or will I be stuck with a proprietary reader and limited choices?
  • How much will it cost? 

The other thing I wonder about is if this device represents competition for current eInk readers (Kindle, Sony, Cybook, Irex etc) or the iPhone?  I guess time will tell.

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