No wonder the dog’s smiling: New e-book readers from Taiwan

image So when will we see $99.95 E Ink machines? The current shortage of E Ink displays---probably the reason for the Kindle crunch---won't last forever.

Meanwhile, the more manufacturers in the game, the better in terms of spurring demand. That's the key to lowering prices in the long run, even if PVI may be reluctant to invest more than such-and-such amount in the manufacturing of the current generation of displays.

Netronix, owned partly by PVI, is the latest out the gate. It's unveiled 9.7- and 6-inch E Ink-based readers, the latter  of which, the EB-100, is a Linux machine similar to the Cybook Gen3. But the 9.7 model, the EB-300, comes with a twist, the use of the Windows CE operating system in an E Ink gizmo.

Software and format possibilities

imageDoes the CE mean that Mobipocket and eReader could follow---either via software bundling or your own installations---so we could read DRM-hobbled bestsellers on that 1200X825-pixel, 170-dpi screen? And how about uBook, which runs on at least some CE machines? Currently announced formats include TXT, PDF (probably just nonencrypted), RTF, HTML, BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, MP3, AAC, and WiFi and Bluetooth are available. Oh, and the EB-300 offers True Type---meaning, I'd hope, some nice heavy bold fonts to make it easier to read off the E Ink screen in dim light.

Mysteries

Price? Dates of availability in States and other parts of the world? Mysteries, still. You can pick up more details from Alex at MobileRead and a PDFed Netronix spec sheet for the larger machine. Wait. I'll repro the specs here along with some accompanying ballyhoo from the company.

Introduction

Hold a mobile library in your palm and bring it everywhere! EB300 is a thin and light electronic book. With an anti-glare 9.7″ big screen, EB300 gives you the best view of e-papers. The power saving design allows you to read up to 5000 continuous page in a single charge. What’s more, EB300 embeds with a 3.5mm earphone jack; you can listen to music while reading e-books.

Key features

Turn page — forward/backward/auto(default 10seconds)

Jump to page

Progress bar — display position in the book

Font increasing — increase font size

Bookmark — add bookmark to a page

Zoom — zoom in/out page

Slideshow — Start/Stop slideshow image files

Auto shut-off — on/off(default 10 minutes)

Play MP3 — playback MP3 files

802.11b/g Wi-Fi

Bluetooth

Touch Screen

Delete File

WinCE 5.0 OS with splash screen on boot

Language support : English, Chinese (Big5/GB), Japan,

Dutch, Spanish, French

Embed 3.5 mm headphone jack

Support 2 * USB 2.0 ports (one port with power charge

function)

Support 2 * sliders

Accessories: 1 * battery charger, 1 * stylus, User

Manual

Product specifications

Screen

9.7″ EInk paper

Resolution

1200 x 825 pixels, 170dpi, B&W, 4 grayscale

Support Format

E-Book formats — TXT, PDF, RTF, HTML/CHM

Image formats — BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG

Sound format — MP3, AAC

Font format – TTF

Input

Touch screen (to be used with stylus and finger)

4 functional buttons programmable

Storage

SD card expansion (up to 2GByte)

SDRAM

64MByte

Flash

NAND 4Gbit

Battery

Lithium-ion Battery 3.7V 2100 mAh

(up to 5000 continuous page turns)

DC IN Jack (USB)

LED Display

Power/Alarm (Green), Charger status (Red)

4 LED for page turn

Dimensions

255 (H) x 195 (W) x 14 (D) mm

Temperature

Operating: 0° ~ 40°C (32° ~ 104°F)

Storage: –20° ~ 60°C (-4° ~ 140°F)

Certification

FCC Class B, CE Mark

Power Supply

Switching power adapter 5V, 1A

/////////////////////////////

Other info from Netronix…some facts overlapping…

Interface

2 x USB ports (one with power charge function)

1 x 3.5mm stereo earphone connector

Power on/off, up/down/right/left/enter, menu, music, up page, delete, volume up/down, reset

2 x sliders

Screen

9.7″ EInk paper

Resolution

1200 x 825 pixels, 170 dpi, B&W, 4 grayscale

Memory Size

4Gbit NAND type Flash

Storage

SD card (expandable up to 2GByte)

SDRAM

64MB

Dimensions

255mm(H )x 195mm(W) x 14mm(D)

Power supply

+5V/1A Switching Power Adapter

Certification

FCC Class B , CE Class B

E B – 3 0 0

■ Read in the dark without damage your eyesight

(not TFT back lit mode)

[Yes, like Alex at MR, I’m curious about the above. – D.R.]

■ User-friendly interface

■ Bookmarking, slideshow, and zoom

■ Thin and light; easy to carry

■ 802.11g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Touch Screen

■ Accessories: Battery charger, Stylus, and User Manual

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9 Comments on No wonder the dog’s smiling: New e-book readers from Taiwan

  1. Going by appearances, I’d say the EB-100 is not just similar to the Cybook, but is the same reader in white instead of black.

    It has the exact same navigation button surrounded in the same contrasting stripe positioned exactly over top of the same USB charging port (see the slight bulge at the bottom right of the picture).

    Michael

  2. Alan Wallcraft // March 12, 2008 at 9:45 am //

    So, the EB-100 is probably going to run a bootlegged copy of Linux (the manufacturer of the device is violating Linux’s GPL), just as the Cybook does, but the EB-300 is on much firmer ground since presumably WinCE is licensed from MicroSoft.

  3. Alan, that’s pretty strong stuff. Why not share the details? I’ll also welcome Bookeen’s side. Thanks. David

  4. I was surprised that none of the e-babel formats are supported. I guess one will have to convert *.prc or *.mobi files to RTF. Unprotected PDF are easy to convert to text. Kindle formats are out of luck. At least they didn’t contribute to the proliferation of the e-babel mess.

  5. Regarding Al’s comment:

    Technically there is no such thing as “Linux’s GPL”. The GNU GPL is used to license many types of software and some Linux software is licensed under the GPL.

    That niggle aside, companies that use GPL licensed software are supposed to make the source code (which includes their modifications to the code) publicly available for other users to examine/use/change/etc.

    I do not know if Cybook is making their code available as I have not looked for it but if they do not make it available they would be in violation of the GPL. That may be what Al is referring to.

    Amazon makes the Kindle code available for download via their website so they are in compliance with the GPL. Not that anyone asked – I’m just saying :)

  6. Ooops…

    In my previous post I was referring to Alan Wallcraft’s comments posted at 0945.

  7. Alan Wallcraft // March 12, 2008 at 7:55 pm //

    For the lack of the required source code for the Cybook, see this thread at MobileRead http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21074

    The primary problem is with the OEM, but only the resellers, such as Bookeen and Netronix, have the clout to get the OEM to make the source code available.

  8. From USA TODAY article: Short Kindle supply is keeping e-book fans waiting

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2008-03-11-kindle_N.htm

    There are no apparent shortages in the display technologies that go into e-book readers, says Vinita Jakhanwal, a principal analyst for mobile displays at iSuppli. Her firm projected worldwide display orders for all e-books to reach 225,000 in 2008 and 1.1 million in 2012, up from 150,000 in 2007. And the numbers could go even higher, she says.

  9. Hmm. That contradicts info elsewhere about a display shortage, but I’ll be delighted if it’s true. Big thanks for the link! David

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kindle love « Higgie’s Medium
  2. Netronix EB-100 and EB-300 could offer up some price relief on the e-ink front - SlashGear

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