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Kindle in the wrong direction

Ross O. Storey | May 11, 2009
New e-book reader already seems set to be overwhelmed by proposed new-generation dual-screen laptops.

Last weeks announcement from Amazon about their new e-book, newspaper and magazine reader, the Kindle DX, touted by some as a potential saviour of the ailing newspaper industry, strikes me as having some problems.

This new device can only display in drab black and white (it has 16 shades of grey), cannot show videos and does not have a browser to surf the Web, nor can it send e-mail.

It seems to be deliberately attempting to become a totally separate device for reading digital versions of newspapers, magazines and text books only.

At a time when laptops, desktops and television monitors are all converging into one, video is becoming the format of choice on the Web, and multi-functionality is being demanded by consumers, the Kindle DX seems set on blazing a new trail backwardssticking to black and white, even though newspapers have published colour photographs for yearsand apparently convinced that people are willing to add another specific device, with limited features, to their carry bags.

To my mind, this simply demonstrates that newspaper moguls remain entrenched in the mindset that print will always be separate, different and apart from other media. They are going to be in a difficult position attempting to get people to pay to view their content on the Kindle, when similar content is generally already available for free on the Web.

There may be technical reasons, but I cant help asking why the Kindle could not be a laptop with enhanced e-book reading capabilities, instead of an e-book reader missing many accepted laptop functionalities?

Likely laptop of the near future

Asus Dual TouchscreenAsus has already unveiled, at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany, in March, what seems to be the likely laptop of the near future, a dual-screen device that removes the keyboard, allowing for data input through a touch-sensitive display. This device is basically all screen, with one being able to be used as a virtual keyboard for data input, if required.

In its announcement, Asus said the two touchscreens provide the flexibility for the laptop to be used in many different scenarios. It can be used as a conventional laptop, an e-book reader, or as a multimedia hub. The company says the two screens can also turn the laptop into a multimedia device, with both panels forming a larger display for wide-screen entertainment. One screen can turn into a software-based virtual keyboard for data input while the other can be used as a display, Asus said.

By disabling the virtual keyboard, the laptop can also be turned into an e-book, which can be held like a conventional book in which pages can be moved through touch or gestures. On its side, it looks much like a traditional magazine, in full colour, with animation and everything else consumers have come to expect.


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