vistaeinkA slim E Ink tablet that links wirelessly to a Vista PC will debut in November, according to the home page at Ricavision.

The price isn’t public yet, but it could be much less than E Ink machines from other vendors. See our earlier coverage of the Home E-Reader.

Using Vista’s Sideshow tech, the machine focuses tightly on the mere display of the information, although it apparently will work with a stylus.

The focused approach means less power but a lower price. Vista renders the pages for viewing on the Home E-Reader. Sideshow provides the Windowish graphical user interface.

If these devices catch on—and the Vista dependence is no small handicap—perhaps less Microsoftcentric models will follow from other companies.

Toward e-book museums, ultimately?

The upside is cheaper hardware for reading, while the downside is that this could ultimately help promote to the E-Book Museum Model. Imagine a future where you picked out your book online via your desktop, specified the style and size of the type, then downloaded it to your PC infested with DRM at the hardware level. Then in return the material would go to the equally "safe" tablet. You wouldn’t be storing your books over the long term, or at least not your entire library. Good-bye book ownership. Of course, ultimately maybe the books would simply be piped into the handheld directly via wireless, as Amazon apparently plans on doing with the Kindle.

But that’s the future. For now, I’ll be curious to see how or if the Home E-Reader will tie in with existing Microsoft products such as Microsoft Reader.

For now, remember that the tech ultimately could be A Good Thing if decoupled from Vista through the efforts of other vendors.

Meanwhile here are more details from PDF literature from some months ago:

"The Ricavision Home E-Reader is a small handheld portable device wirelessly connected to a PC running Windows Vista that functions as a normal enhanced device for Windows SideShow. The display is of the reflective eInk type, which is optimized for reading documents, so that reading is as comfortable with the Home E-Reader as it is from print on paper. The Ricavision Home E-Reader enables the user to cache a large number of pages, including entire books, on the device so it can also be used out of wireless range of the Windows Vista-based PC. The Home E-Reader also includes stylus capability. It uses SideShow as the primary GUI and Windows Vista as the means by which pages are actually rendered for display on the device."

(Spotted via MobileRead. Thanks to Jon Noring for some speculation on the direction of the technology. Like me, he sees both positive and negative possibilities.)

Related: Wikipedia on SideShow.


  1. Nice and pithy, Mike, thanks, but you also need to consider this, from the cited source: “In Smart Display OS 1.0, the display would lock the host PC to it while in use. Microsoft variously attributed this to licensing issues (that Windows XP Professional was licensed for one user per running copy [1]) and resource management problems. The requirements of licensing — not to allow the devices to work standalone, not to allow the device to connect to the host PC while the PC’s main screen was active and not to allow multiple Miras to control one PC — were widely derided in the press.”

    See why I’m really rooting for this concept to go beyond Microsoft?


  2. It may well go beyond Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean there’s a market for these things. I never heard of the Smart Display issues you cited before now. Nor do I think did most people. It still failed. We are at least a generation away from the Star Trek: TNG imagery of totable wireless always-connected tablets of this kind — in-home satellites of the desktop or home server. But before then, we’ll have Apple doing a tablet (or mini-tablet) right.

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