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January 2010
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Tablets Threaten To Devour eBook Readers

The Entourage Edge Dualbook

The Entourage Edge Dualbook

I finally decided to address the elephant in the room and write about the tablets that are about to burst forth on to the scene. There has been a lot of talk about whether the tablets are going to kill off the eBook readers and my answer is both yes and no. Yes, I know that’s always and annoying answer to give but that’s the way life works.

To further explain, it will interest the readers of this blog that I don’t the Kindle is in any kind of danger at the moment even if Apple really launches a tablet device this month complete with a full range of content on iTunes. Here’s why.

The Kindle started this whole eBook reader thing, even though it wasn’t the first one at the scene. Amazon hit it on the head with the Whispernet. Then, the Kindle went international, giving Amazon much greater market penetration. It is also a device that has gone through more than one product cycle and that means it is better tuned and more in sync with the demands of the market. This is not true for almost all other readers in the market.

That is why they are easy victims for the tablets to pick off. Tablets will be multimedia devices and hence much more attractive at the onset. They will have full color and everything that a portable computer does today. But they will still lack the paper like display that is easy on the eye and lasts for days on end. The two most important things that made the eBook readers click.

Still, these hurdles will slowly be overcome and we might see a tablet Kindle in the future because convergence  is where we are headed and Amazon will surely upgrade the Kindle to counter this threat. So overall, I think it will basically be the survival of the fittest, just like it always has been in a free market economy.

14 comments to Tablets Threaten To Devour eBook Readers

  • Mark

    The tablet needs to be able to display an image without a backlight in my opinion if they are going to be used for long form reading. Trying reading a 1000 page novel on your computer LCD.

  • I believe that both the tablet and the Kindle will coexist happily without either one being “killed”. They are different devices, with different features and prices. The tablet will probably be two to three times more expensive than a Kindle and have a much shorter battery life (hours instead of weeks, if netbooks are any guide). So I have little interest in it as a replacement for my K2i. But it will probably be a great gaming / web surfing machine, and will be successful in that market.

    Or I could be totally wrong. Let’s wait until Jan. 27 before making “killer” predictions.

  • Stbalbach

    > Trying reading a 1000 page novel on your computer LCD.

    I have read many novels on LCD for years, and had no problem at all.

    1. You’ll need a table like this (many versions and mfg’s make them) for reading on a sofa or bed or comfortable chair.
    2. A laptop with a 15″ or bigger screen.
    3. A book in PDF format from Internet Archive or Google Books.
    4. Plop down on the coach and start flipping pages.

    It’s really a good experience. I actually prefer it to e-ink because the scanned books retain the original fonts, layout, look and feel of paper, color, etc..

  • Besides the high price, I think the one thing that makes E-readers in general safe from the tablets is convenience. For years, I have had two full computers at home and work, and yet used my small Palm or a laptop to sit on the deck or while traveling. I honestly like having my Kindle – a simple dedicated reader – by my bedstand.

  • dafoink

    the swiss army knife has been around for over 100 years, but it didnt put corkscrew, saw, and tooth pick companies out of business. The tablet will be able to do alot of things good. but nothing excelent. Just like the mobile phone. it can do alot of things good, but nothing really great.

  • Mark

    Usually when I read a lot on a monitor, I get a headache and my eyes go numb. I think one solution would be read from an LCD that has the page as black and the font as white, like on a Bloomberg Terminal.

  • admin

    I’d say that it’s a funny thing. I make a living by working on a computer. If you add news, gaming etc on an average day I’d say I spend at least 10 hours in front of the monitor if not more. I can’t say that it puts any special strain on my eyes.

    But personally I can’t imagine myself reading a 1000 page novel off LCD monitor…

  • Having just returned from CES in Vegas this weekend I can say everyone has an e-reader / table in the making. And I mean everyone. That said I say very few that were actually working were nothing more than the sony version with different button layouts. I might have missed it but I did not see a single Nook there. And there were so many accessory boothes there. But no Nook. Now after seeing the many tablets that are in the making, the one thing that will save the Kindle and Nook is content. These two devices will have the easiest access with their postion as book retailers. And I believe once the newness and once people have actually used a Nook, they will find the Kindle better. I heard serveal different companies telling me that the Nook can share books and that it has a browser simular to their reader. But Nook is very limited in these areas and I believe the share thing is over because of the publishing companies. It is funny that few mentioned the Kindle in there comparisons, but I guess the Kindle is old news in a 3D world. If you went to CES this year you know what I mean.

  • Dave

    It seems to me that both the dedicated e-reader and the tablet serve somewhat different purposes. Recreational reading, for me at least, is an attempt to block out the noise and bustle of the surrounding world. If there is too much access to “other stuff” (e-mail, internet, video, and the like), it can be difficult to concentrate on the story at hand.

    For me, a tablet would be a small, lightweight way to stay connected when away from my desk. Only problem is that I use a 13″ notebook as my main computer pretty effectively. For some reason, despite trying off & on for years, I have been unable to read for long periods (more than about 30 minutes) looking at my computer screen be it CRT or LCD or OLED. Perhaps the device itself demands too much attention. Perhaps it is the other capabilities of the computer that get in the way and tempt me away from my reading.

    On the other hand, I have been able to read on my e-reader for much longer period. Some others have suggested that a good e-reader sort of “disappears” while you are reading and the words themselves become the focus of attention, not the device they are displayed on.

    Does it have something to do with the back light? Perhaps. While I may read for a time on my iPhone, it tends to be shorter periods of time. That could be because of the situations that I tend to read books on my iPhone, or it could be due to the back lighting. The biggest factor, however, is that I am afraid of draining the battery so much that when I need a phone, there will be no power.

    All of the devices which can be used as e-readers have their niche depending on how much you use the various capabilities of each device. Those more concerned with staying connected will probably prefer a tablet or notebook as an e-reader. Those who read more and are less concerned with connectivity or who read for long periods of time may well prefer the e-paper device.

    The great thing about freedom is the ability to choose.
    To Each His (Her) Own.

  • rodomiro

    There are two things that LCD displays based “ereaders” will never do:
    1. Be easy to the eyes.
    2. Battery duration for more than 10 days.

    I suspect Color ePaper with screen refresh rates higher than current ePaper, will have a hard time trying to match point 2. Many people are expecting those color ePaper devices to reproduce video and have smoother animations, but that implies _many_ more power.

  • Mark

    Check this out, a Mirasol display. It’s more power efficient than eink and can display color and video!!! Revolution!

    A tablet in “ereader mode” could be used for weeks without charging. But then, you could use it as a tablet computer also.

  • You say “convergence is where we are headed.”
    I say “divergence is where e-readers and tablets are headed.”

  • TW Andrews

    There’s no way that I’d replace the kindle with a tablet. Battery life and form factor are both key reasons that I use the kindle. Neither of those will be sufficient with a tablet that worth having.

  • I’ve used both a Kindle and a tablet as ereaders. The tablet is great for web pages and short-form information. Longer works are just more comfortable to read on the Kindle. The reflective screen is easier on the eyes. Eventually, it would be nice to get color e-ink screens.

    http://wordspicturesweb.com/?p=543

    Buddy

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