I have spent five (long) years looking for a really good eBook reader. Not perfect; just good. And yet I keep looking.
I have lot of gadgets! Why do I want one more?
What it comes down to it, I don't want a new eReader no matter now fancy. What I want is a robust device that I can use for a variety of things including, reading eBooks.
The new devices needs to have these characteristics:
A logical hardware package:
- Light (5-8 oz.) ergonomic design. The ability to EASILY hold the device in one hand. AND to be able to comfortably do basic navigation with the same hand. Doesn't matter if it uses buttons, flip bar, finger or pointer.
- Enough processor speed and RAM to make it snappy -- this changes so fast I won't bother with specification.
- A 6-8 inch TOUCH screen with internal lighting.
- High resolution screen for text, graphics, and video.
- Clear audio capabilities for both listening and recording.
- Always-on connectivity -- WiFi works great
- Generous storage 40-80GB; I personally like the solid state hard drives.
- Long battery life and easy battery replacement.
- All the standard hardware things you would expect like SD card slot(s) and USB ports.
A robust operating environment:
- A full operating system (Palm, Windows Mobil or Linux come to mind)
- Basic functional software -- Internet browser, email, contacts, calendar, notes, photo gallery etc.
- A full compliment of readily available productivity software, GPS capabilities, and games.
- Easy writing/note taking ability with real annotation ability -- handwriting recognition and on screen keyboard plus the ability to use a keyboard and mouse if desired.
eBook-specific software included:
- The ability to read least 2 of the common protected eBook formats: PDF, MS Lit, Palm and Mobipocket
- The ability to buy books "over the air" from any source, anytime, anywhere.
- Great search capability that includes not only searching of the eBook text but all annotations as well.
- The ability to share my annotations with others.
- All the obvious software features you would expect: changing font type, font size, highlighting and bookmarking, dictionary lookup.
And I want it all for a decent price -- less than $500.
OK, that might be a little optimistic but certainly the capability can be had for close to $800. And as far as add-on capability (more RAM, larger hard drive, more slot); that can be as pricey as the manufacturer can get away with.
The most intriguing possibilities on the horizon are the tablet and ultra-mobile devices. Here are a couple of possibilities shown by Engadget in the last month.
The iriver prototype tablet
or the Inventec UMPC 7A
I keep wondering why Sony and Amazon have just introduced single purpose brain-dead devices. Presumably they studied the market before creating their readers.
The the only conclusion I can draw is that they are invested in protecting a divided marketplace -- keeping listening device, video device, eBook device and GPS system device users in separate little ghettos for their marketing convenience.
A universal device is inevitable. So the real question is this: Are they going to start listening to the consumer or will some Chinese company come along and eat their markets?