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Freescale's Cheap Chip Could Mean Sub-$99 E-Readers

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the readership-growth dept.

Books 158

eldavojohn writes "Last week, Freescale Semiconductor announced their i.MX508 chip and a few days ago released a rather bland and boring announcement that it's available. But there was at least one interesting line from that press release, 'The i.MX508 applications processor is expected to be priced at less than $10 (USD) in quantities greater than 250K units.' Yes, less than ten dollars. This sparked a wave of articles detailing how this new chip will allow the sub-$99 e-reader to emerge and according to market research, consumers are thirsty for something much more affordable than the Kindle."

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But what about the cost of e-ink? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350276)

I seriously doubt it's the processor that's causing the Kindle to be so high priced. It's most likely the costs of using the e-ink screens.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (4, Insightful)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350394)

I also think that the display is the main cost. But the network interface are not that cheap as well. And I think the main cost of the kindle may be the 3G internet access.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350710)

So why nobody has an e-book reader without cellular access (there are plenty) which is significantly cheaper than the Kidle? You mean nobody saw an opportunity there?

And for that matter, in most of the world Kindle 3G access is "free" in rather loose sense of the word...

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31351490)

My wife's ECTACO jetbook lite was about HALF the cost of the kindle.

When I tried to explain to her I had a limited budget when buying for her (it was an xmas present), she said she loved it, and asked me "why the f*** would anyone want wireless on a book reader?" I told her it was for purchasing books on the go.
Her reply was "I have a perfectly good computer for that, and at least TWO ways to get them onto this thing". All the arguments about "value" when it comes to reader costs just kinda deflated in the face of such logic.

Point is, if you don't act like say, Apple and try to control everything on your device, there is no need for the extra costs based on projected usage patterns, or worse still, suggested usage patterns. I'll use my device the way I see fit.

She's perfectly happy now with 'bookbook' as it has been nicknamed.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (2, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351692)

Nah, they pay for the recurring 3G cost through ebook sales.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350422)

The cellular hardware probably doesn't help either(for that matter, it isn't exactly clear, at least not from publicly available figures, how much of the cost of the bandwidth is baked into the cost of ebooks and how much is baked into the cost of the device). You can already get cheaper(albeit generally content-storeless) e-ink devices without that hardware.

That said, BoM savings are a good thing no matter where they occur. If they felt the need to trumpet the price in the press release, the new chip is presumably cheaper, or embeds what were previously distinct peripheral chips, or both.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350616)

For 90% of users I bet the cellular hardware could just be removed. Just have it load books via usb mass storage or via an itunes like app.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (4, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350726)

See, that's what the sensible person would think. But note, if you loaded books via USB, how could they tether you to their expensive online bookstore? How would they upsell to you? Gasp - you might even buy PDFs from a competitor!

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350742)

For 90% of users I bet the cellular hardware could just be removed. Just have it load books via usb mass storage.

That's a terrible idea! I couldn't have come up with a wor...

Huh. That's odd. I could have sworn your post was advocating some idiotic storage method. But I guess it isn't.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (2, Interesting)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351072)

Actually, I think a full Bluetooth implementation should be enough:
- via tethering to your non-castrated phone, it give you 3G on your ereader. Sorry, iFans :-p
- it can give you LAN access
- if can give you ethernet acces at home via your PC

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351624)

I'm not a total iFan, but my iDevice is not castrated in any way. You can thank AT&T for that, NOT Apple.

My Rogers-based iPhone (Canada) tethers perfectly.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

CottonThePirate (769463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351946)

You know I would have said that before I got one, but I haven't hooked my kindle up to a computer in months. It's much easier to just download from the device itself. Certainly this is true on trips where I don't bring a computer, but even around the house. It's one less step. Sure it's not hard to hook up a cable and drag a file, but it's easier to just click on it.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (3, Informative)

Mitsoid (837831) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350436)

iSuppli reports the cost of the display modile is ESTIMATED at $60 [isuppli.com]
I put estimated in capital letters as TFA I linked says its an estimate.
Anyway, Just throwing that out there for those curious about the cost breakdown

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (2, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350592)

Yeah, based on what you've linked to the Kindle processor is only $8.64. The new processor incorporates features that represent another $8.71 worth of IC's. So, this new processor reduces the price an estimated $7 over what's in the Kindle. Still, any improvement helps.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350628)

So that already puts us at 70 bucks for *just* the display and chip (assuming these number are correct). Throw in the cost of the other parts and that means the LOWEST price we'd see something made with these parts on the market is around $100, but count on $130-150 for a reasonable profit for both the manufacturer and the retailer. That's not a whole lot lower than the current price of a 5" reader on special somewhere.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350468)

I'm not sure that's the case at all. If e-ink is not cheaper than LCDs, it will be soon. You just can't lay your hands on e-ink displays because they are only available to OEMs.

Motorola had a phone with an e-paper display three or four years ago. It's a low end GSM phone targeted at developing countries. You can buy the sucker now off Amazon, unlocked, for the princely sum of $24.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (2, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350774)

That Motorola phone doesn't have a raster display though; it has preset symbols + alphanumeric display (similar to 7-segment displays of classic calculators)

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351114)

True. But the point is that just because the technology is new, doesn't mean it's expensive.

I did some digging and found an article last June which discussed the acquisition of the Kindle's display manufacturer by a Chinese company. The current display for the Kindle adds about $60 to the cost of the device, but it is manufactured in Massachusetts. When production moves to South China, it'll probably drop by at least 50%, if not 80%.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31351080)

The price of e-ink increases nonlinearly with the area. A phone screen will cost much less than half the price of a screen twice its size.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31352098)

I'm not sure that's the case at all. If e-ink is not cheaper than LCDs, it will be soon.

1) It's not cheaper than LCDs. We're talking of something around $60 for large-scale orders, and well over $100 for individual items at the moment.

2) It's not going to get cheaper for as long as eInk technology and manufacturing process are patented by E Ink Corporation. The only company currently licensed to manufacture screens is PVI, and they have few factories actually producing that stuff.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350584)

Uh, certainly, it couldn't be gratuitous pricing on the part of the vendor. I'd love to see the original manufacturing cost. I'd be surprised if it was over $65 USD.

Ummm... profit margins? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350650)

Amazon's desired profit margin wouldn't have a thing to do with the high cost, right?

Re:Ummm... profit margins? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350906)

Unlikely. All e-Ink products cost $200+.

If I had to guess, I would say the e-ink display is the biggest cost, followed by the battery. CPUs, Flash, RAM, and wireless chips are commodities at this point. E-ink and ultra-compact batteries are not.

Re:Ummm... profit margins? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351198)

The cellular chip is the second largest single cost of such a device.

Re:Ummm... profit margins? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351620)

I'd agree with Lord Ender that, materials-wise at least, the battery would probably come in second or third (if indeed the cell chip is second). Of course it's worth keeping in mind that much of the cost of that cell chip may in fact be due to IP licensing costs rather than actual costs of materials and production.

I have a hard time comprehending the cost of batteries in general, since the materials are trivial and AFAIK there's no governmentally required environmental expenses rolled into the cost.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350914)

Fewer components can also lead to a faster development time. If companies were only lazily interested in an e-reader before, the cost barrier to break into the market in R&D has decreased dramatically.

Anyone scope any datasheets? All I can find is some dumb "fact sheet" on Freescale's site.

Re:But what about the cost of e-ink? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351606)

I agree, considering what an e-reader does, you're likely capable of doing it on chips in the range of one or two dollars when you buy the processor one at a time, let alone in bulk.

Absolutely (5, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350288)

consumers are thirsty for something much more affordable than the Kindle.

I know I sure as hell am. The price of entry is the only thing that has stopped me from getting an eReader. I would love to not go over $100 for a good-quality eReader, but $150 would be my firm limit. I realize that e-ink screens are the primary thing driving the prices up for now, but hopefully with things like this new chip combined with new processes of putting together e-ink screens will bring the price down.

Despite how much I complain about it around here, I would be willing to pay the same if not slightly higher for ebooks as I would for dead tree books if only the eReader itself wasn't so damn expensive.

Re:Absolutely (1)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350334)

same complaint here. the reader itself is too expensive. while yes having a bookstore in hand and lots of cheap books is nice still not worth the cost of entry yet. I do still like having piles of books strew through the apartment as well. would probably end spending the money saved on books to only buy more books the instant I am done however. not that that is particularly bad.

refresh (2, Interesting)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350514)

I agree that a lower price point is desirable but I'm still planning to wait until the page refresh process on these things is more acceptable. There is an annoying delay for every page turn, and most of the ereaders I've played with (at least 20 different models at CES this year) have a really annoying black screen in between page turns while the e-ink particles rearrange themselves. The delay and rearranging isn't so bad if you are just reading one book at a time always from start to finish, but it becomes really frustrating if you are skipping around or browsing through various documents and you want to navigate from one document to another like you might do while web browsing or working with legal briefs, etc. I would love to see e-ink technology improve to the point that one can use these things for browsing large quantities of documents -- this would be an incredible tool for researchers and educators. I'd be willing to pay current $250+ prices for one of these that was usable for such tasks, but at the moment we're still a couple years away from that.

Re:refresh (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350794)

The delay and rearranging isn't so bad if you are just reading one book at a time always from start to finish, but it becomes really frustrating if you are skipping around or browsing through various documents and you want to navigate from one document to another like you might do while web browsing or working with legal briefs, etc.

If you had something like B&N's Nook -- with an e-ink screen and a smaller LCD touchscreen "strip" -- it would make sense to use the LCD screen for navigation more complex than simple page turning (searches, skimming thumbnails or scrolling ToC, etc.). AFAIK, the Nook doesn't do this now, but it would be interesting if it did (or someone made a similar product that did.)

Re:refresh (2, Informative)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31352230)

FYI, the nook has Trook [nookdevs.com] as a unsupported add-on that does exactly this. It is really the perfect reader for news, it pulls the rss feed, and you browse the headlines like a iPhone finger motions. You click the articles you want and it pulls them from wifi to the Big screen.
I have never had a better browsing experience. But it still is complete crap for a site like slashdot where you may want to enter data at some point... (you can, but the small touch keyboard is useable...)
It is actually really easy to install, simply stick a micro-sd card into the nook back panel, download the latest firmware from Trook, copy it to the device with USB, turn the nook all the way off, and back on holding the page turn button. done. May void warranty, YMMV...
The only downside, is the nook screen is so nice for viewing, it makes reading text from my PC noticeably sucky now.

TL;DR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350832)

Paragraphs are hard.

Re:Absolutely (2, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350526)

I know I sure as hell am. The price of entry is the only thing that has stopped me from getting an eReader.

Having played around with a B&N Nook and one of the Sony ones, the slow speed of the page changing drove me nuts. I realize that it is a feature/side effect of e-ink, but I can't ever see myself getting used to the whole flashing/slow page turning thing. No matter what the price.

Re:Absolutely (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350582)

The Kindle has significantly faster page turning than the Nook.

Re:Absolutely (2, Funny)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350858)

Both are significantly faster and easier than a book.

Re:Absolutely (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350950)

I hope the above was a joke. Most people take far less than a second to turn a page. Try it.

Also, remember that almost nobody reads to the end of a page, stops, grasps the page, turns and begins reading. Without exception, in my own observations, people prepare to turn a page well before they finish it, by the time they reach the last word, they flip the page in less than half a second and continue reading without any stoppage.

I don't even remember turning pages in books, I don't even notice it.

The slow reaction time in e-ink is probably my largest deterrent from purchasing an e-reader.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350868)

Yarg, yes. The Nook takes over 2 seconds to turn a page, that would drive me crazy.

Re:Absolutely (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350624)

I'd even be willing to spend over $200 if it could replace my textbooks (which can cost that much to begin with). It weighs less and the books are less costly to produce. Add in internet access and note-taking capabilities and I'd spend much more.

Unfortunately, the textbooks that my classes used simply aren't available electronically.

Re:Absolutely (1)

bsharitt (580506) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350716)

Even if they were available electronically, they're not likely to be much cheaper. Very little of a book's cost is from the paper it's printed on.

My 'cheap' eReader... (1)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350654)

Is my netbook (AO751h) + the yBook [spacejock.com] application (Win32 Freeware, also runs under WINE). No, it doesn't have eInk, but with a $55, 9-cell aftermarket battery, I do get ~10-12 hours without having to touch a wall wart. Plus there's a full size keyboard, and I can do just about anything else computer-wise with it that doesn't require huge video capabilities (due to Intel GMA500, which could be better, but is sufficient so far, @ ~6 months ownership). Netbook + battery = $350. More than a dedicated eReader, much cheaper than an iPad, capable of doing more than either/both, it's the best geek tool/toy that I have run across in a long time.

Re:Absolutely (4, Interesting)

samuraiz (1026486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350762)

I have more than $260 worth of shelving for my dead tree books, and I buy cheap shelves. There are infrastructure costs associated with any kind of book ownership.

Re:Absolutely (2, Insightful)

armyofone (594988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351400)

Bookshelves full of books look nicer than YAGLAOTKC, (yet another gizmo laying around on the kitchen counter)... :-p

Re:Absolutely (1)

armyofone (594988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350820)

"... would be willing to pay the same if not slightly higher for ebooks as I would for dead tree books..."

Why? Not trying to troll. Just curious about this statement. Knowing that the cost to produce is significantly lower, (yeah, yeah, I get the 'supply/demand economics' argument), why are you willing to contribute so much more to the supplier's bottom line? Is it all in the convenience factor or is there something else I'm missing?

Help me understand as I have the opposite mind-set; if a thing costs less to produce, it should cost me less to buy it. Otherwise, there is non-free market profiteering going on somewheres, isn't there?

Re:Absolutely (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350892)

Don't get me wrong, I think it's outrageous how much is charged for e-books...but if the readers themselves were cheap (say around $100), I would see the too-high prices of the e-books simply as a convenience charge.

As it is now though, with expensive ebooks AND expensive readers, it's more like a middle finger than a convenience charge.

Re:Absolutely (1)

armyofone (594988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351168)

Again, I have the opposite viewpoint; if the price of the books were more reasonable, then wouldn't that offset the higher initial price of the e-reader? That seems the more consumer-friendly approach.

Disclaimer: Other than reading the occasional Gutenberg text on an old Palm TX, I don't own an e-reader. With the recent shenanigans by content publishers forcing Amazon to raise their e-book prices, I'm really not interested in even entering the market - no matter what the price of the e-reader. If they gave it away free, (a la mobile phones), I still wouldn't bite the lure. $15.00 for an electronic book is just too much, IMO. Especially when I can get all kinds of dead-tree reading material at the local used bookstore and library. They have plenty available there to keep me occupied for the rest of my life.

Re:Absolutely (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351070)

I would gladly pay $300+ for an e-reader. However, it needs either a color display, or a secondary highres display (overlapped, see Pixel Qu http://www.engadget.com/2009/06/03/video-pixel-qis-e-ink-lcd-hybrid-screen-demoed-at-computex/ [engadget.com] )... I could even live without those features, but without them I'm going to wait to see if there's another revolution in book stores (Google Books, or something similar) that doesn't lock me into just one... I read enough that I can all but justify the cost (I spend around $500 to $1000 per year on books, so it'd be just about break even given the discount on ebooks). When I find the right one, I'll get it. But from what I've seen now, I'm holding off...

Re:Absolutely (2, Informative)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351528)

I'm going to wait to see if there's another revolution in book stores (Google Books, or something similar) that doesn't lock me into just one...

Pretty much all e-readers with the exception of the kindle use the epub format. No matter what e-reader you get you are not really licked in to any book store. You just download the book from whatever bookstore or other souce and copy it to the e-reader. Most bookstores these days sell in the epub format so that makes everything nice and easy. I've even seen a few libraries start "lending" ebooks in the epub and pdf formats as well.

Re:Absolutely (1)

irright (1369385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31352014)

I imagine there are book stores you can be "licked in to" but, as always, that costs more.

Re:Absolutely (1)

proxy318 (944196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351328)

I don't think ebooks are worth as much as paper books for reasons that have already been beaten to death here - DRM prevents you from lending the book to a friend, if the DRM server disappears, so do your books, the bookseller can disable/delete your books whenever they feel like it, lots of publishers are delaying or choosing not to release ebooks to try and drive up sales of paper books, if you upgrade your device, it might not be compatible with your collection, and the marginal cost of producing copies of ebooks is practically zero. The most I'd be willing to pay for an ebook is $5, and it would have to be a current best seller. Older and less popular books would have to be cheaper, unless they offered some additional advantages.

Going down. (2, Funny)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350368)

2008 $99 laptop
2009 $99 netbook
2010 $99 ereader

Yes, the ereader will run Linux.

Re:Going down. (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350410)

but will it run crysis ?

Re:Going down. (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351164)

As long as there's a beowulf cluster of them.

Re:Going down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350446)

The problem with your list is that none of those has happened.

Re:Going down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350530)

2008 $99 laptop
2009 $99 netbook
2010 $99 ereader
Yes, the ereader will run Linux.

True. I can sniff the sarcasm. Does anyone remember how $99 was the original OLPC price? That was meant to be for Africa only, IIRC, then the Eee PC brought the netbook concept to the US and for their troubles, they launched at 3 times that target. Now, some 3 years later, the netbook hardware hasn't gotten much better. Yet the price is the same instead of drifting down to the magic $99 mark. If they're going to charge me the price of a cheap desktop, at least put in dual cores in the things.

Anyway, the $99 mark is like the sub $1000 PC. It will get there eventually for laptops, but they will probably be irrelevant compared to the other offers by that time. At least those of us with a tight budget won't mind.

Re:Going down. (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350660)

$99 netbooks exist. Google for chinese mips based netbooks.

Re:Going down. (2, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351600)

On the bright side, you can get a half decent Palm Z22 [amazon.com] for under $100 now. Load up Plucker and a bunch of books and websites sync'd via Sunrise-Desktop and you're set for a few weeks. Also with TCPMP you can play back music and movies. And it comes with a much better PIM than Android and maybe even iPhone.

Yes, I'm still holding out with my Palm T|X. Bluetooth tethering to a $10/mo. unlimited wap data plan, where I can access ssh, vnc, and much of the web with Opera Mini. Haven't found anything much better to upgrade to yet. Just wish Google Maps Mobile would update their PalmOS Garnet client :P

ten dollars too much (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350380)

it craptastik fur sure

u want cheap u gets cheap chit

hardware really expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350406)

I would rather assume that free *lifetime* and *world wide* wireless connectivity is what is costing Amazon money...

Really wont change the price (5, Informative)

quo_vadis (889902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350486)

According to isuppli's teardown of the kindle [isuppli.com] the E Ink display is $60. The main processor (made by Freescale) is ~$8. The EPD chip, which is what becomes redundant adds only $4.31 to the BOM. The main point is you cannot expect E Ink based readers to get any cheaper any time soon. Any price cuts will only come about due to increased competition from different technologies like Pixel Qi's, or by sacrificing things like onboard wireless (which adds ~$40 to the cost of the Kindle).

Re:Really wont change the price (5, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350808)

>by sacrificing things like onboard wireless (which adds ~$40 to the cost of the Kindle).

Its not wifi chips that are expensive its the EVDO and the deal Amazon has with Sprint that's expensive. I dont need a EVDO ebook reader. Wifi is good enough. Just give me an offline option if I cant get it on wifi someplace (copy file to USB drive and insert it into ebook reader). Really, there's a huge hole in the market for sub $150 dollar ebook readers. Its probably doable with a smaller eink screen and lack of bell and whistles. The Sony pocket edition reader is pretty close.

Re:Really wont change the price (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350984)

I bought the smaller BeBook reader for 175 euro if you don't count the 25 euro voucher. That is already getting really close to 150 euro (which is roughly equivalent to 150 dollar because taxes and the smaller markets in Europe). It does not have WiFi, but that's not something I miss at all. Just copy the books directly to the SD card and put it in the reader. Why have all the hassles of setting up WiFi? Browsing is a PITA with only an eInk display anyway. Even the USB (which is TERRIBLE on the smaller BeBook - it even crashes all USB devices on my laptop, be warned) is spurious, were it not that it is also used to charge the battery.

As for the smaller screen: I was fine with that, but I would not choose an eBook reader with less pixels. I need the sharpness of the display - more pixels is better. And I would not be surprised if the number of pixels is driving the price.

Re:Really wont change the price (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351718)

>by sacrificing things like onboard wireless (which adds ~$40 to the cost of the Kindle).

Its not wifi chips that are expensive its the EVDO and the deal Amazon has with Sprint that's expensive. I dont need a EVDO ebook reader. Wifi is good enough. Just give me an offline option if I cant get it on wifi someplace (copy file to USB drive and insert it into ebook reader). Really, there's a huge hole in the market for sub $150 dollar ebook readers. Its probably doable with a smaller eink screen and lack of bell and whistles. The Sony pocket edition reader is pretty close.

They can fund the recurring 3G bill with book sales.

Why would I want one again? (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350492)

I for one don't really see the for a dedicated e-reader, I know save a tree, but the fact is, sometimes I like to sit down and go low tech with a good book. Besides, I enjoy the smell of books in my library and I like to flip through the pages of a new book. I might invest in an e-reader for use on the plane, or when I go on a trip if it is attainable at say $80 on some promotion and the books are cheap, but for general use on a daily basis, I just don't see a pressing need.

Re:Why would I want one again? (2, Insightful)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350728)

For pleasure-reading, I completely agree.

But I want to go to classes with my e-reader and some paper, instead of my body weight in textbooks (which I may or may not need that day). I don't care about "enhanced content" (who actually uses the CD that comes with hardcover textbooks?) .. just give me a note-taking application, a good calculator and possibly access to my email.

Re:Why would I want one again? (3, Interesting)

Chad Birch (1222564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350756)

I like being able to hold (and turn the pages of) what would otherwise be an 800-page hardcover book in one hand while standing on the train, then slip it in my jacket pocket when I reach my stop.

If you do all your reading at home where you don't need to carry your books around, there's not really much reason to have one.

Re:Why would I want one again? (4, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351166)

Plus, they're great for reading in bed. Anyone who's tried to read lying on their side knows how much of an *enormous* pain in the ass regular paper books are. It's just not doable. But an ereader is perfectly comfortable.

Re:Why would I want one again? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31352146)

The trick when reading while lying on the side is to turn from side to side as you turn pages. And hey, it also counts as extra exercise! ~

Re:Why would I want one again? (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31352136)

If you do all your reading at home where you don't need to carry your books around, there's not really much reason to have one.

It's still lighter than most books. It also lets me make the font bigger, so I can read without wearing eyeglasses. Bookmarks are less of a hassle as well, and table of contents is actually navigable.

I mostly read at home, but I still find my PRS-505 to be more convenient than paper books.

Re:Why would I want one again? (1)

eddy the lip (20794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351248)

I'm in the market because I plan on moving around a bit more. I moved across country last summer and had to liquidate the book collection. (Yeah, ouch.) It's not like I'm going to stop buying books, so portability is a big deal for me.

Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. (3, Interesting)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350494)

Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. Meet those two criteria and they'll sell by the boat-load.

Re:Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. (3, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350512)

Except most consumers don't care about something being "open".

Re:Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. (1, Insightful)

serialband (447336) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350606)

Most consumers just want ease of use. If it requires too many steps, then it's not going to sell well.

Re:Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350648)

Poster meant they will sell by the boatload to the small percentage consumers that care or are aware about the Open concept.

And by boatload they meant small rubber dinghy.

Re:Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. (1)

null8 (1395293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351638)

I think this is a long lasting slashdot meme, I think if you are gonna invest >$100 in an ebook reader, you will surely spend half an hour researching what you can read on it. Cheap and open, and people will buy them and tell others about it. That's what I think about it.

Re:Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. (2, Insightful)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#31352138)

Obviously, you are wrong. I mean, that's why the iPod failed, why iTunes hasn't sold more than a handful of songs, and why Linux has 95% of the desktop marketshare.

It's like you live in an alternate reality or something!

Re:Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31352214)

Except most OEM's do. Open means cheaper.

Re:Cheaper than the Kindle, and OPEN. (1)

thePsychologist (1062886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350596)

This isn't as cheap as I'd like: http://www.pocketbookreader.com/PocketBook_360.html [pocketbookreader.com] , but at $240 it does run Linux and supports DJVU along with many other formats. You can even download a terminal emulator for it. I've been looking around for e-readers and I'm thinking of getting this one. I would like to test it first but unfortunately it's not sold in stores around here.

I was saying when i saw the Kindle... (2, Interesting)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350502)

...it's got a lot of "wow" factor, but just wait for the price on the technology to drop before you buy one- eventually, the e-ink tech is going to become as ubiquitous as the flash drive. Amazon did a good job of creating a great device, but eventually there are going to be so many clones out there that locking yourself into Amazon's platform (essentilly, Amazon was copying iTunes model) at such an early start might hit your pocketbook kinda hard... Just wait for cheap-ass readers, and then the publishing industry to set up their own store(s).

This is going to be an interesting battleground, especially in the education text-book market.

e-Ink displays (2, Interesting)

future assassin (639396) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350504)

How about someone just creates an e-ink display and no processor that can be hooked up to net/note book.

Re:e-Ink displays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31351556)

How about someone just creates an e-ink display and no processor that can be hooked up to net/note book.

Because e-ink has too slow a response for normal use.

it doesn't matter. the iPad is coming (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350572)

mod. me as a troll if you wish, but in two years, the only "e-reader" that will matter will be the Apple iPad.
Just like every digital music player is referred to as an "iPod" because Apple has 80%-90% of the market.
Sure, there will be lots of small "niche" e-readers available for specialized uses such as high contrast X-Rays, but for the most part, it's already game over. You might as well just go and buy an iPad on March 26th. Resistance is futile.

Re:it doesn't matter. the iPad is coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31350684)

You said it. The iPod completely destroyed the market for guitar strings, and you can't find a good trombone mouthpiece here *anywhere*. Don't even get me started on how the iPhone killed the market for quality wristwatches.

Re:it doesn't matter. the iPad is coming (1, Flamebait)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351612)

Ah yes, I wondered how long it would be before someone brings up the Ipad. Let's see - it's an article about getting an e-reader for under $99. What boxes does the Ipad tick for us?

* Will be cheaper than existing e-readers? [n]
* Will be an e-reader? [n]

Hmm, not doing too well there are we.

Just like every digital music player is referred to as an "iPod" because Apple has 80%-90% of the market.

That's the only market they lead. Will the Ipad be another Ipod? Or will it be another Apple TV/Air/Mac/Iphone?

How about focusing on functionality instead of $ (2, Informative)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350646)

The main reason I don't buy an eReader is a cost vs functionality. Most of the books I read, can be obtained in pdf format. So buying a computer with ability to read pdf format is more cost effective. Now if the functionality were to be increased so that I could take a pdf document and bookmark pages, scribble notes on it and such I would be happier with an eReader. There are some versions of eReaders which have this functionality, but in some cases I've heard you can lose this information. Maybe they should be thinking about eBooks being a lot cheaper or how about transitional marketing. Something where if you buy the hard copy you can obtain the electronic copy for free. Then I could better determine whether it's right for me. But then we are back to the entry level cost and the difference in cost between an eBook vs paper. Some of the books I have seen are advertised as $47 for paper and $44 for the electronic copy. So where do I come out ahead, yeah if most of my reading was fiction then it would be okay, but 90% of my reading is technical.

Getting closer (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350680)

Right now the Que has the right idea but it is a bit pricey. If we could see an e-reader around $200 that is network capable and has the ability to send print jobs to it. You can sign me up for at least $50 units. THe possibilities of e-ink in the business environment are impressive. As an Admin I could control loose papers with a password, reduce the usage of consumables and really speed up the availibility of information. No more...where did I put that spreadsheet or flyer...Our management here is pretty sold on the Que for the legal department but definitely are concerned with the price of pushing it out to more users.

E-Reader will turn into a function, not a product (2, Interesting)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350798)

The only real justification for a dedicated e-reader device is that it can be locked to a company's book service. If the device is "open", it'll contain many more functions (free or very minimal cost) and look more like a laptop or iPad.

Right now you can download text versions of thousands of books - and Notepad is all you need to read them. If I'm going to have a special device just for reading books it's going to have to be a lot more functional and a lot less expensive than anything they're even speculating about now.

Those corporate types that think that $400 is a good price for an e-reader and books should cost $25 each are setting the stage for their extinction. That kind of pricing will create a "pirate" market for digital books; this and the low sales rate (due to the pricing) will kill their market in short order./P

Re:E-Reader will turn into a function, not a produ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31351754)

The pirate market for ebooks exists already. How many of us have PDF copies of $200 text books? Not to point fingers but when I'm doing p2p it's not for the latest Britney Spears, it's for Tech Manual's and Academic Texts that would cost me a small fortune. Most of 'em are stored on servers in Europe, India, and or China...

When I look at Amazon offering a marginal price difference between hardcover and pure digital files, I start thinking absurd markup!

They used to tell us that it cost lot of money to re-print rare texts. Now all the type setting is digital and apparently if you want a digital format it costs the same as a hard copy still?

And I've got to admit, when I see fools lugging around a huge Oracle manuals or 800 page text book and thumbing the pages -I appreciate those pirated pdf's all the more. Same answer a fraction of the time and I can carry entire library on a single SD or miniSD. Not dependent on any 3G internet connection which can be costly too.

But most of our IS staff love the huge books not because they're building mental or physical muscle but more as a badge to sort of show off how much they pretend to know. Ask a question and they start thumbing what ever the latest tech bible for version "x.0.6" is, to make themselves appear savvy. Ask the same question of a programmer or analyst with pdfs the answer comes back four times as fast without the loud clunk and bible thumping on my desk... I'm just saying...

Re:E-Reader will turn into a function, not a produ (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351760)

The only real justification for a dedicated e-reader device is that it can be locked to a company's book service.

That, and the much better display, and the much longer battery life, yes.

LCD and eInk (2, Interesting)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350824)

It is interesting to see that the CPU supports both LCD and eInk at the same time. I've just bought a BeBook and the eInk is just perfect for reading. The eInk display is however absolutely worthless as an interface device. After buying a my Hero (android) phone, the BeBook is left at home most of the time. For my workplace I would be very interested in using an eInk display for PDF. But navigating and searching is such a PITA on the current readers that I can not recommend it to anyone. On my reader I get irritated by the navigating experience even when going from one book to another.

Idea: maybe they should mate androids and iPhones with eInk displays, e.g. using bluetooth. You could make a really cheap one while using the wireless LAN / mobile internet / multi-touch screen etc of the phone for all the stuff that the current eBooks are missing. For now I'll just use my droid, even though I will get a headache from all that eye-strain.

We need affordable MEDIA. (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350850)

This horse is pretty dead but I'll give it a couple more kicks. Outside of new releases, ebooks should be priced the same as paperbacks minus the costs of production and distribution associated with physical paper. Once a new title moves from hardcover to paperback, drop the "new release" premium on the ebook version.

Honestly, does any avid reader think twice about spending a couple hundred bucks on a quality bookshelf? Okay, I cheaped out on my most recent bookshelf because I had to fit a weird-size space but I do have a couple Kindle's worth of money invested in bookshelves.

One or two specious claims in the original article (1)

Garwulf (708651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31350960)

Well, I just looked at the EETimes article, and I found a couple of specious claims.

Basically, they've got this chart, and they're using it to say that if the e-book reader gets below $99, the market penetration will rise to 65%.

Now, call me stupid if you want, but I took a close look at that chart, and that's not what it said. The actual figures for the $99 e-reader were:

Approx. 38% "Intend to buy in next six months"
Approx. 42% "Want to know more"
Approx. 54% "Frequent book readers with a household income of more than $75,000"
Approx. 65% "All U.S. online adults."

I don't even know what the hell that last section means, particularly seeing as its bar is smaller than some of the others in the other categories...even as a sentence fragment it doesn't make sense.

Either way, I get the feeling that the 65% market penetration might be a bit of marketing-speak, and skepticism may be called for...particularly since the source happens to be the Freescale marketing department.

Why not? I have a cheap e-reader. (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351138)

A couple years ago I bought a cheap mp3 player with a 2-1/2" screen for $69. Takes SD cards up to 2 GB. It also has a picture viewer and e-reader built in.

I have about 100 Project Gutenberg books on it right now along with a shedload of music and pictures. It can be set to auto-scroll or you can manually flip pages with the side buttons. Not a huge screen and not set up for fancy features like magazine viewing, but for books it's great. And I bought this almost THREE YEARS AGO!

Plus - the battery lasts for about 8 hours, it records, it recharges via USB and you can listen to music while you read.

With the advent of smart phones that do all of the above, is the e-reader really a practical device to make? And if so, why hasn't anyone made a Palm-pilot-sized e-reader with MP3 player, voice recorder, yadda-yadda-yadda for under $100? Or $50 for that matter.

Still waiting for the ... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351310)

... $100 e-meter. Thankfully there is a kind group nearby who will hook me up to theirs for a nominal fee until that comes around.

"will allow the sub-$99 e-reader to emerge" (1)

maharius (1235912) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351314)

Did anyone else read that as allowing the E-reader to E-merge? I think I have a case of E-fatigue, also I-fatigue come to think of it.

This is a great chip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31351338)

Sure the chip [freescale.com] is designed for e-books, but it has some great features for general-purpose, low-power computing:
Flash support
1400x1050 display support
5xUART
256k L2 cache

This is awesome value at $10.

I was excited (1)

RedTeflon (1695836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351362)

For a moment I was excited, I thought the article was about eepc for $99 soon not an e-reader. I personally couldn't care less about e-readers, while a nice idea I personally dont read enough print material to justify needing anything like that.

Wake me when they make a usable netbook under a 100

Re:I was excited (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351802)

There are many chinese mips based ones available ~100, some below it.

usable is left to you to define.

$9.99 is nothing special (3, Informative)

myforwik (1465003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351996)

Obviously not many electronic engineers around slashdot... The main point of the chip is that the eink display driving is direct, this will save about $5. if you don't believe me you can get the cpu that does the same for $8 and the display chip for $6.50....
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