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$99 Moby Tablet As Textbook Alternative

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the down-with-rolling-backpacks dept.

Education 191

Taco Cowboy writes "Marvell's Moby tablet will be an always-on, high performance multimedia tablet capable of full Flash support and 1080p HD playback and supporting WiFi, Bluetooth, FM radio, GPS and both Android and Windows Mobile platforms for maximum flexibility. It could eliminate the need for students to buy and carry bound textbooks and an array of other tools. The tablet is expected to hold a full year's worth of books but weigh less than half of one typical textbook." The tablet is a bit vaporous at this point, but if the final device comes anywhere near these specs and price point, it could be attractive.

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Moby DICK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31540550)

Suck my cock!

Or... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31540596)

How about just letting me load the textbooks onto the laptop I already carry around?

Re:Or... (2, Informative)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540822)

You may be getting your wish. [informationweek.com]

Or perhaps it's been available for a while. [amazon.com]

Re:Or... (4, Insightful)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541244)

It's not a matter of having a program that can read ebooks. PDF's work find for that. It's a matter of the textbook publishers A) not releasing digital versions of their books, B) charging ridiculously stupid prices for the books that are digital, and C) usually time limiting the PDF's to 3-6 months.

The time limit thing is what makes the prices ridiculous. $60 for an ebook that lasts 3 months? For that price I should be getting it forever. If you want to limit it to 3 months, try $10-15.

Re:Or... (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541708)

Of all of the electronic formats for books, the Kindle format is the most likely to be an available option for a textbook. That was implicit in my point.

Re:Or... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31542006)

If you want to limit it to 3 months, try $10-15.

I would say if they want to limit it to 3 months, they're misunderstanding the fundamental purpose of books.

Re:Or... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31541048)

Technology x is old and busted. Technology y is new and exciting. Never mind that technology x can do everything technology y can do. Marketing can't sell technology x anymore, so we'll only support technology y.

Re:Or... (1, Insightful)

RadioElectric (1060098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541642)

I'm pretty sure you mean to say "Technology y is the new hotness".

Re:Or... (5, Informative)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541706)

Wow... a slashdot geek should really read about technology y before commenting, but hey, few of us RTFA, right? Check out the Pixel Qi display [youtube.com] . Also check out the Nvidia Tegra processor [wikipedia.org] . This is the year of the tablet/slate, or whatever you want to call them. They're a new class of $100 - $200 ebook readers that blow away anything we've seen to date, assuming you like to read. They are easier on the eyes than Kindles, yet able to run real OSes, even Ubuntu UNR. With their ARM processors, and awesome integrated graphics, they use a small fraction of the power of any Intel based system, and at a fraction of the cost. The killer application will be e-book readers, in a "convergence" device that also let's us watch color youtube videos, run Firefox, write e-mails, and all of that on a nice 10" multi-touch display that blows doors on any phone or e-ink display. We'll buy them because they're cheaper and better than a Kindle for reading e-books, yet nearly as useful as a netbook for getting work done. Many of these devices will ship with detachable keyboards, making them true netbooks when used that way. Battery life in e-book mode will be in days, not hours.

So, feel free to enjoy your technology x. I'm really looking forward to y.

Battery (2, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541240)

The main problem is that you either have to provide students with power outlets, or the batteries have to be able to perform in the real world for around 8-12 hours.

I would have loved to have had such an option when I was in Uni. You had two choices. Either carry the textbook as you were told in which case you'd better have a good hiking backpack and like being a social outcast, or don't carry them and do your homework/reading at home. Most students chose the later.

I did my Masters online and never had to carry a book. It was a much better experience in that respect.

Re:Battery (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541308)

have a good hiking backpack and like being a social outcast

Uhhh...what university did you go to where this was true? Sounds like high school.

Re:Battery (4, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541750)

Agreed. At uni the social outcasts have bags they drag about on rollers... :)

Re:Battery (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541826)

The main problem is that you either have to provide students with power outlets, or the batteries have to be able to perform in the real world for around 8-12 hours.

Done. I wish I could grant other wishes so easily. These new devices will have battery life measured in days, not hours, because in e-book mode we get to turn off the back-light and read the display using ambient light, just like a book. They'll also have power-saving ARM processors that only drain significant energy when you turn the page. But, if you want to see that you-tube video your friend just texted you, you can turn on the back-light, and enjoy it.

Re:Or... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541674)

But you can play games as well on a laptop

It's Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31540604)

Too bad it doesn't exist...

Re:It's Awesome! (2, Informative)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541836)

?
 
It's not awesome at all that some electronic widget can do all those things. What's awesome must be the textbook it's replacing! When I was in school I never had a textbook that did WiFi, 1080 HD, Flash, GPS, etc, etc, etc. Mine were all just paper with non-moving print on the pages.

Also emulates Phantom console using Hydra (1)

Orga (1720130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540626)

Additional details: Contains video cards from multiple manufacturers with no loss in GPU power. Phantom console games sold seperately.

Is there even a prototype? (4, Insightful)

bheer (633842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540644)

The CrunchPad was supposed to be a dead-simple, cheap $200 tablet [wikipedia.org] . Closer to production, it looks like it'll cost more like $500 [thejoojoo.com] . A $99 device would be nice, but I'll believe it when I see it. A decent screen + NAND memory + battery alone will add to the cost.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (3, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540736)

Agreed. It does look nice, but the best TFA could muster is a prototype device that may or may not even be this machine. Still might be worth it at a couple of hundred, though - I'll have to wait and see.

I do think the textbook focus in the press release seems odd, too. We passed the point where a laptop became lighter than a textbook back with the first round of netbooks. Textbooks, of all things, are fine for reading on a normal screen. You generally need them for quick reference when you're at a desk - the traditional e-reader advantages fall here. If anything I'd have though they'd be pushing these things as web pads/multimedia devices.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (2, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540832)

Can't grep a dead tree (or use Ctrl+F)

Re:Is there even a prototype? (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541422)

True, but a paper copy doesn't run out of battery power at really inconvenient times.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541600)

The light being used to see it is powered, though.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (1)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541754)

Unless you're using the sun? Yeah, I know, that's fusion powered, but not exactly what you meant by "powered."

Re:Is there even a prototype? (2, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541770)

Nothing close to 100% uptime on that, though.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (2, Funny)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31542016)

Y5B Problem

Re:Is there even a prototype? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541778)

by batteries? Probably not.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (2, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541124)

Depends on the grade you're looking to get. In many courses, if you're looking for an A, you're probably going to need to read substantial portions of the textbook. Reading the same book for two or three hours in a single session is certainly not rare, and that can cause considerable eye strain on a normal screen.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541694)

> Reading the same book for two or three hours in a single session is certainly not rare, and that can cause considerable eye strain on a normal screen.

And how long you have been sitting at the computer screen RIGHT NOW?
I have been here for 5 hours reading email, slashdot, doing work, etc. Staring at a computer screen the whole time.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541798)

Actually, most of my time is spent fighting crime vigilante-style on the streets of a major city in a brightly colored spandex suit. I only spend a few minutes at a time on the computer.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (2, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541936)

Actually, most of my time is spent fighting crime vigilante-style on the streets of a major city in a brightly colored spandex suit. I only spend a few minutes at a time on the computer.

By "brightly colored" do you mean to say "Cheetoes-stained and mom hasn't done the laundry yet"?

Re:Is there even a prototype? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541958)

No comment.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (1)

EchaniDrgn (1039374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541898)

If anything I'd have thought they'd be pushing these things as web pads/multimedia devices.

But you can't PR an educator into buying 30,000 multimedia devices for their students. Electronic Textbooks yes, web-tablets... not so much.

Re:Is there even a prototype? (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540922)

I would be a touch surprised, and impressed, to see the case, battery, screen, wifi, etc. come in for less than $100.

However, the joojoo thing is almost certainly a bad comparison. That hardware is a full Atom based x86, with Nvidia graphics(since ion was terminated by Pine Trail, presumably Ion2, which is a full discrete GPU, albeit a rather weak one). Since Marvell is pushing this thing, and Marvell makes ARM SoCs of various flavors, it'll almost definitely be cheaper(as well as somewhat weaker) than the intel+discrete GPU equivalent.

Perhaps the more valid comparison, and not a wildly hopeful one, is Marvell's Shivaplug, which is the headless, batteryless, designed for small scale embedded server use version of their ARM platform. Quantity one, that goes for $100 without screen or battery. For quantity LOTS, I'd assume that it would be somewhat cheaper; but $99 for a similar board, plus the usual mobile device trimmings would be a fair feat.

Is anyone else getting tired of reading about... (4, Insightful)

bornagainpenguin (1209106) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540658)

...all this great looking (and supposedly wonderfully performing) ARM powered vaporware products that either never shows up outside China or retail for ridiculously high prices and so locked in with WinCE nobody wants it?

Either put up or shut up already! Personally I'd rather they put up than shut up, but either way enough already!

--bornagainpenguin

Re:Is anyone else getting tired of reading about.. (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540912)

SheevaPlug isn't vaporware. N900, iPhone or any smart phone uses ARM, aren't vaporware.

Re:Is anyone else getting tired of reading about.. (2, Interesting)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541268)

SheevaPlug is $99 with no screen or battery. A tablet at that price would be really something.

You're not the only one! (4, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541000)

Me too! I had been keeping an eye out for ARM based "smartbooks" etc. for several months. Lots of reference designs, lots of demos at CES. No one ever brought anything decent to retail stores. I heard HP was releasing something in Spain. Lenovo is supposed to be releasing something in the US later this year.

I wanted something around a $200 price with decent battery life, capable of running Linux. I wanted ARM, too, because I didn't want to buy a machine that came with Windows only to wipe it. After months of waiting, I gave up.

A few weeks ago I purchased a used Acer Aspire One, along with a high capacity battery. Total price, including shipping and taxes for all items, was less than $200. The machine had originally come with Windows, but was sold without any OS installed. I put Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it, and I'm quite happy with it.

I'm now out of the market for one of these many rumored ARM-based devices... no one has any decent offerings (and no, the Touchbook is not what I would consider a decent, consumer-oriented offering, and they're not even in stock AFAICT), so I gave up. Also, $99 for this Moby Tablet? Yeah, right. Maybe the bill of materials is $99, but I doubt even that. This thing stinks badly of being vaporware.

Re:You're not the only one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31541218)

Me too! I had been keeping an eye out for ARM based "smartbooks" etc. for several months. Lots of reference designs, lots of demos at CES. No one ever brought anything decent to retail stores.

Uhhh, CES was barely 2 months ago. Did you expect everything shown there to be on store shelves the following week? Your point might be just a tiny bit more valid if the situation is the same in another 5 or 6 months.

Re:You're not the only one! (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541764)

CES 2009, my friend, was more than a year ago. Some of the same ARM-based models were demoed at CES 2009 and CES 2010. All throughout 2009 we heard that they would come to market in "mid-2009" or "late 2009". Now we're hearing the same thing about 2010.

ARM Cortex and Chrome Browser software (2, Insightful)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541864)

They need to reach ARM Cortex A9 or good A8 with full hardware acceleration of Google Android for Laptops or Google Chrome OS software and Flash 10 support for full speed web browsing. Once they have that, which is really imminent, they will be selling huge amounts all over the market.

Re:You're not the only one! (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31542164)

I'm with you on the $200, ARM-based, 10" touchscreen slate. However, we're very tech-minded geeks here. To quote a marketing guy at Dell, "Wouldn't you rather pay $300 for a device that can also run all the applications you love?" Of course, I happen to love Linux apps, but I get his point. We're not Dell's target customer base. Tell Joe Sixpack that it's just an e-book reader, and $300 for a black and white 7" display seems reasonable. Tell him that for $200 he can get color, better sunlight readability, 10" display in the same form-factor, multi-day battery life in e-book mode, and a real OS with web browsing, e-mail and more, and suddenly it's a device for pot-head geeks with no real market. Go figure.

I'm happy to see the technical achievement, BUT... (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541612)

I'm happy to see the technical achievement for what it is, but I am worried that the purported text books would change daily (updated by WiFi or some wireless means) to fit the revealing political views. Ministry of Truth, anyone?

Re:Is anyone else getting tired of reading about.. (3, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541992)

You make a decent point. The Nvidia Tegra processor, QualCom Snapdragon, and TI something-or-other, are all fine ARM processors for multi-touch slates, yet no respectable manufacturer (I'm not including Apple as "respectable"), has even announced a device based on this.

My brother-in-law works at Dell, and while he may take issue with how I paraphrase him, what I heard was "Dell doesn't innovate. Instead, we wait for others to prove the market first, and then crush them with our manufacturing capabilities." The big players, like Dell and HP, are waiting for the equivalent of the Asus EEE PC in the ARM based tablet/slate space. Once an off-brand has dominated the market, they'll follow like lemmings. In the meantime, early adopters will need to buy products like "Notion Ink Atom" from some random group of entrepreneurial Indians, or this Marvell thingy. Honestly, I think the big players look to Apple for innovation. MacBook Air? How about a nice Dell netbook for 1/4 the price? iPad? How about a Dell slate for $150? At least we have that great A-hole Steve Jobs to help our corporations find their way...

Marvel? (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540682)

So, is DC coming out with one as well? A Dark Knight themed tablet would be cool.

Good deal! (4, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540714)

Launch package deal comes bundled with Duke Nukem Forever and Optimus Maximus keyboard support.

Re:Good deal! (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540786)

$99 for a Optimus Maximus!?! I'm sold!

Re:Good deal! (2, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540794)

Optimus Maximus isn't vapourware these days, it's just unaffordableware.

Re:Good deal! (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541152)

It also isn't anything like the original design. The original had screens the full size of the keys, including the spacebar, instead of these pathetic little tiny screens with massive borders around them.

For $1500, I'd probably still be at least a little tempted to get the original design. At $400, I still wouldn't be tempted for the actual one.

Phantom Game Console Marvell Pad (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541880)

This plus the DNF and the Phantom console.

Let me guess (1, Redundant)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540716)

It's also going to be bundled with Duke Nukem Forever?

Dross (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31540734)

I involuntarily read the comments below TFA and now I want to scratch my eyes out.

A bit vaporous? (1)

Genevish (93570) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540754)

A bit vaporous? You think? Hehe, well, I'll certainly cancel my iPad order for this!

Has anyone used a Pixel Qi screen to read a book? (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540784)

I can't seem to find too much info, their site says it rivals E-Ink, which would be really cool if true.

Anyone? Anyone? If you're going to be reading that much with a screen, you pretty much need the equivalent of E-Ink.

Re:Has anyone used a Pixel Qi screen to read a boo (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541538)

I have a PhD and have always read far more on a CRT or backlit LCD than I have on paper, mostly code and papers versus textbooks.

If you adjust a backlit screen properly and use it in appropriate lighting conditions it's the same as a reflective screen. Reflected photons aren't magic.

Re:Has anyone used a Pixel Qi screen to read a boo (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541830)

But... But... the edges of reflected photons aren't as jagged as backlit screen photons so they won't tear holes in your eyes and all the fonts look warmer with reflected photons!

Re:Has anyone used a Pixel Qi screen to read a boo (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541932)

Only if you hook up the low oxygen video cable the right way around. Otherwise the electrons get bruised and bruised electrons can be rather rough with the photons.

Re:Has anyone used a Pixel Qi screen to read a boo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31542152)

I am a PHB

FTFY, you smug bastard.

I used Pixel Qi (4, Interesting)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541918)

It's as good as e-ink for reading. Check my video: http://armdevices.net/2010/01/08/charbax-tests-pixel-qi-at-ces-2010/ [armdevices.net] I tested it only for a few minutes though, I didn't actually read much on it, just had time to check it out outdoors and indoors at Computex 2009 and at CES 2010 as I was filming those Pixel Qi videos. It's very very readable and the whole 10" screen currently uses less than 500 milliwatts which means potentially reaching 50 hours battery runtime using an ARM processor to turn e-book pages on a 3-cell netbook-sized battery.

PR releases for non-existent products != news (5, Insightful)

sixteenvolt (202302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540806)

Another kdawson special. The product does not exist. It cannot be purchased. If every claim about what somebody INTENDS to do is news...

Re:PR releases for non-existent products != news (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540944)

Exactly. Maybe if the company had a working prototype on demo, or something. With all those claims, we'll probably see a product similar to what was announced...some time in 2015.

They are showing working prototypes (2, Informative)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541940)

Check the link, there is a picture of a working prototype at 10" and even a video of a working prototype with a 4.3" screen.

Wrong problem (5, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540820)

I don't mind lugging them around. What I mind is paying out ridiculous amounts for a rehash of last year's now worthless book. They sell ebook versions of textbooks; I don't see how this will hamper that (besides eliminating resale markets). What we need is some serious, high quality, free, open source type textbooks. I wouldn't mind paying to have them stamped on dead tree, I like dead tree, it's the BS mark-up that's the problem. This is cool and all, but it would mean a lot more if they could get something good and free/reasonably priced to put in it.

Chicken and the Egg (1)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31542030)

It's a bit like the Chicken and the Egg problem. You can't really use laptops to read textbooks. Once students all have low power readable tablets at $99, the affordable if not totally free access to all books and all textbooks is an obvious development. Even if the publishers will want to keep prices of digital versions of textbooks high, students will very easily be able to pirate them. This will force a new business model to monetize the work of authors. Such as one that is already used with libraries. Borrowing books from the library is free while authors are compensated directly accordingly with the popularity of their work through some sorts of taxes. Authors whos books are in libraries are compensated by how many times people borrows their books, which could be even more precisely counted using e-readers by counting the actual exact use and popularity of each ebook page.

epaper table (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31540824)

I would rather use E-Paper, tables are good and all but they are hard on the eyes after a while.
http://novelwhore.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/e-paper.jpg

Re:epaper table (4, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540952)

I would rather use E-Paper, tables are good and all but they are hard on the eyes after a while. http://novelwhore.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/e-paper.jpg [wordpress.com]

Poor lighting causes eye strain. The reason why people don't get eye strain from e-paper as much is because is "requires" ambient light in order for you to see the screen. Don't use the blacklit display as a replacement for sufficient lighting and your eyes will be fine.

Stop buying into the hype. Do people work in offices on e-paper displays all day? No. Eye strain does not occur if you take frequent breaks and work in a well lit environment.

Re:epaper table (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541230)

And adjust your backlight appropriately. If the backlight is too low or too high you can get eye strain. If it's set correctly the result is just the same as a reflective display. It's not like your eyes can tell the difference between a reflected and an emitted photon.

Re:epaper table (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541470)

Stop buying into the hype. Do people work in offices on e-paper displays all day? No. Eye strain does not occur if you take frequent breaks and work in a well lit environment.

Hype? I think most people are referring to comments from end users, not the manufacturers. The end users are reporting their observations based on personal experiences. No hype involved.

As for people in offices going about their daily tasks, here's an observation. None of them is reading, unless it's a published newspaper, periodical or book they're holding. To the extent anyone is staring at a computer monitor for a length of time, they're doing so in a way that only resembles reading.

Here's a simple test for you. Put a copy of something challenging on your monitor. I'd suggest a FCC filing like a prospectus, or if literature is your thing, Cervantes or Milton. Be sure it has none of that benefits that the form or typography of books offers (aka "mile long lines on a big screen with lame computer fonts"). Now try reading like a person accustomed to reading books: no breaks or interruptions for hours on end. See how many chapters you get through before you "tire" of the experience, and ask yourself if you could pass a pop quiz based on what you've read. I'll guarantee you'll fail to demonstrate anything other than limited reading comprehension, and you'll be in a shitty mood.

An LCD computer monitor is a far improvement over the flickering monstrosities that sat on the everyone's desks once upon a time, but it still flickers (however imperceptibly), and it's still requires looking directly into a light source. You don't notice or don't mind? Good for you. The rest of us know the difference and won't/can't settle for less, irrespective of our ambient lighting conditions.

Re:epaper table (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541690)

Hype? I think most people are referring to comments from end users, not the manufacturers. The end users are reporting their observations based on personal experiences. No hype involved.

You're generally representing the parent post as stating that manufacturers are hyping how bad their screens are?

I think he meant epaper hype, as in, that it would be any better under the same lighting conditions.

Pixel Qi LCD = e-ink (1)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31542074)

Check out the Pixel Qi LCD screen technology, provide e-ink quality ereading and very low power consumption when turning off the backlight, and you can turn on the backlight to get the full color qualities of regular LCD screens as well when you want to browse the Internet or watch some movies. All on the same screen: http://armdevices.net/2010/01/08/charbax-tests-pixel-qi-at-ces-2010/ [armdevices.net]

Attractive, 'cept the tightest DRM lockdown EVAR (4, Insightful)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540842)

Seriously, you thought the RIAA and MPAA were bad? Hoo boy, you're in for a surprise when you meet the textbook publishers. They aren't even human, they're like... Mind Flayers, or something. Pure evil, and smarter than you think.

Textbook pubs will never permit mass electronic distribution unless they have mandatory DRM backed by scary laws that the state aggressively enforces. When Congress passes laws authorizing copyright holders and their agents/officials to summarily arrest and imprison suspected copyright violators, without trial or notice, THEN the textbook publishers will decide that they feel confident moving into electronic distribution.

But one of these days, somebody will start selling cheap, easy-to-make/use automated book scanners (with page turning capabilities). Or maybe they'll put up an Instructable. That'll be the harpoon in the side, for the textbook industry.

Re:Attractive, 'cept the tightest DRM lockdown EVA (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541194)

Plans for ones without page-flippers already exist and are very fast. If a handful of college kids wanted to take turns scanning their books and sharing with each other, it could be done very quickly.

The fact that most decent novels get scanned and OCRd (or at least PDFd) but textbooks don't is a big sign that students don't really think that process will help them much.

Re:Attractive, 'cept the tightest DRM lockdown EVA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31541572)

You don't need a page flipper. Students all kick in for one book that will be destroyed - you cut the binding then use a standard page feeder to the scanner. Done.

Re:Attractive, 'cept the tightest DRM lockdown EVA (2, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541602)

Have you looked at the ebook category on the Pirate Bay recently? It's not "it could be done very quickly," it IS done.

It's tough to find THE textbook you need because there are so many. It's not hard at all to find A textbook on a given subject.

cheap, automated book scanners (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541260)

I don't see them being sold, for the same reason its about impossible to sell a DVD backup device. Few could afford the legal costs.

I also expect them to squelch the plans for them as 'forbidden knowledge' and if you are caught with that data, well, you go to jail as a terrorist or something.

Re:Attractive, 'cept the tightest DRM lockdown EVA (4, Informative)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541496)

Nice buzzword usage, but see, I actually WORK at a University Press, and we make textbooks. And we're doing pdfs for the majority of our ebooks.

The *real* reason that textbook publishers don't make more ebooks is much less sinister:

There's no universal standard for ebooks. It costs money to get something converted to a format and checked for errors, and you don't want to fragment your efforts too much, so out of the several dozen implementations of ebook formats, you pick one or two, then you pick which version of THAT you want to support, and you try and learn about them. And since it takes two years or more just to make a textbook, by the time you've got a format learned sufficiently to get it in to your workflow, you've still got a two year lag before books start showing up in that format.

But oh hey! In the meantime, the standard shifted. So you're back to trying to learn the standard and get that merged in to your workflow. You think the RIAA and MPAA handled the change in the technology of their field badly? Books have been printed basically the same for centuries, not decades. Since the printing press, there's not been many advances that effect publishing. The offset printing press, and use of computers to do layout and editing. No, seriously, that's about it. Books are long enough that few people wanted to have to sit and stare at a screen for hours on end, so they never had to worry about digital distribution until laptops became common, and even then, people still didn't want to read things hundreds of pages long on a screen. It's only been in about the last 10 years or so that it's even been mentioned, and it wasn't anything close to a viable idea until the kindle came out in 2007. And remember what I said about textbooks taking at least 2 years to get through the publishing process?

No, you'll start seeing textbooks for e-readers when the formats are more stable. Until then, you'll get most publishers playing it safe and not wasting their cash on converting.

Re:Attractive, 'cept the tightest DRM lockdown EVA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31541582)

Or... maybe we don't need the publishers to create and distribute decent textbooks anymore.

A whole year? (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540962)

A whole year's worth of books is what? 30 MB? They'll be paying a premium just to find flash memory small enough that it would support a year's worth.

Re:A whole year? (3, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541322)

Little more for textbooks. Figures take up space. The programming texts I have in PDF form usually weigh in close to 10 MB. A decent anatomy and physiology text is closer to 100 MB.

Multiply by eight to twelve courses a year and you're still not talking about much space by today's standards, but you're into not-a-ridiculous-estimate territory, particularly for a $99 device.

Re:A whole year? (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541526)

For a 1080p screen, I think they'd jack up the resolution, so that you could zoom in on figures for finer detail. Since I've seen hi-res printer pdfs come in at 500MB+, I'd say they'd probably go with the average being 100MB, and then around 250MB for the larger ones.

Re:A whole year? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541806)

It almost certainly doesn't have a 1080p screen. It can (supposedly) do 1080p video playback. A 10" 1080p screen would be silly.

It could be that they'll boost the resolution, but I strongly suspect that the resolution will end up being similar to the PDF texts that already exist.

The book/magazine/newspaper publishers can't resist talking about video though, and that's going to produce some bloat. Many textbooks already come with limited time access to multimedia supplements over the web.

Re:A whole year? (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31542138)

It almost certainly doesn't have a 1080p screen. It can (supposedly) do 1080p video playback. A 10" 1080p screen would be silly.

Oh blah. I feel silly, obviously didn't read that one properly. I dunno about a 1080p screen being silly, but it would be rather overkill at this time. Frankly, if they don't go with a highish-rez screen (720p would be good, I think) and pdfs, I think it'll be a waste of time. Higher rez is easier to read for longer periods of time (in my experience), and like I said, would give the ability to zoom in nicely on pictures/figures. Some engineering texts I've seen are rather brutally detailed.

If they really want to be a paper textbook replacement, they shouldn't worry about video too much. Battery and readability are WAY more important.

Translation (1)

cfriedt (1189527) | more than 4 years ago | (#31540980)

... but weigh less than half of one typical textbook.

Translation: This will weigh less than 1/10th of most engineering textbooks.

Why didn't they come out with this 10 years ago!?

will still need to buy (5, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541012)

It could eliminate the need for students to buy and carry bound textbooks and an array of other tools.

Huh? "Carry" is one thing, "buy" is another. It's true that free textbooks exist (see my sig), but they are not yet all that popular in K-12 or colleges. California has a Free Digital Textbook Initiative for high schools, but it has not yet reshaped the landscape; the traditional commercial publishers are essentially sitting it out.

So I don't see why a cheap tablet would eliminate the need for students to buy textbooks. Publishers are already offering DRM'd electronic textbooks, at about the same price as print textbooks. K-12 schools that are using non-free books will still need to buy books for their kids. College students will still need to buy books.

Actually, the traditional publishers love DRM'd e-books, because it's a way for them to kill off the used book market. They can use the DRM to prevent you from selling your copy if you don't want it when you're done with the class.

The books I use in my physics courses at a community college are all free online as DRM-free PDFs. Even so, the vast majority of my students end up buying a printed copy. (I don't receive any royalty from the printed books. They're priced pretty cheap, about the same as photocopying.) Maybe some of them are not going digital because they can't afford a laptop, but I suspect that in most cases, they actually perceive a printed book as more convenient than an electronic one. Reading a book off the screen of a laptop is a pain in the ass. It's much nicer and easier to be able to see two full pages at once, in a large format, and to be able to riffle through pages.

Unlikely to be anytime soon (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541018)

Considering Marvell already produces devices with similar specs at that price point, but no battery and no screen, it's unlikely they are going to be able to meet that price point.

Now if they said that was the bill of materials, I'd almost believe it. But still not with a Pixel Qi screen, which the article speculates but is not mentioned by Marvell at all.

Pixel Qi is being mass manufactured (2, Interesting)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31542162)

The Pixel Qi screen is designed to cost about the same as a regular LCD screen, especially once mass produced by the millions. And Pixel Qi is confirming that their technology is not being mass produced by LCD manufacturers without them having had to change anything in the LCD factories, thus as soon as the orders for millions of these screens comes in, I think you could find a 10" Pixel Qi with a Bill of Material below $60 including the capacitive touch screen.

Re:Pixel Qi is being mass manufactured (2, Informative)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31542180)

Pixel Qi is now being mass produced. And in this ARM Powered tablet, the screen is the largest cost of the device.

I wish they could add (1)

Admirer (168427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541058)

1) A cell phone module
2) 2 swapable batteries
3) A charger to charge the spare battery from regular outlet and/or USB.

Re:I wish they could add (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541782)

As soon as they add a cell phone module, they probably COULD price it at $99(*)

(*) In the US market only, pricing based on a 2-year commitment to a $40+/month data plan with a 2GB monthly cap, overage charges of $0.10/MB and a $425 ETF. Actual price $499 with a $400 rebate in the form of a prepaid VISA card mailed to you 14 years after initial purchase, to an address that does not exist, already expired.

Economy of Scale (1)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541148)

The $99 might cover the parts, but the R&D to design the thing is a different story.

Whoever can ramp up the economy of scale around netbooks is going to own the market.

My money is on the company that did this in the smartphone market.

You know who they are...

Re:Economy of Scale (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541560)

Microsoft?

Jetbook Lite for $129 already available (2, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541226)

Re:Jetbook Lite for $129 already available (2, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541406)

I suppose this could used for textbooks?

I think you a word.

We have been here before (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541238)

And it will end up being yet another 500 dollar device once it ships.

Open Text Books. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31541332)

We need to have open text books to put on these low cost machines. You should be able to put much of human knowledge on a computer with a 32GB flash drive.

Re:Open Text Books. (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541586)

You're rather optimistic, aren't you? If you did nothing but unformatted text, you might get most human knowledge on 32GB, after a good compression algorithm was used, but without pictures and figures, it'd be nearly useless.

Already Moving to the Web (1)

MrTripps (1306469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541598)

Many classes are already moving to a web based model where you have to pay some $70 a semester for a login. Unfortunately, that is in addition to the dead tree version that runs $170 and will net you $75 on the buy back.

$99* Moby Tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31541776)

*For clients who activate or renew on a 3 year term with a voice and data rate plan of $50 or greater. We reserves the right to modify eligible rate plans with this offer at any time without advance notice.

OMGPONIES!!! (0, Flamebait)

Fishbulb (32296) | more than 4 years ago | (#31541942)

It will also butter your muffin.

It cures cancer... (1)

Brett Johnson (649584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31542000)

Marvell's Moby tablet will be an always-on, high performance multimedia tablet capable of full Flash support and 1080p HD playback and supporting WiFi, Bluetooth, FM radio, GPS and both Android and Windows Mobile platforms for maximum flexibility.

It cures cancer ... and it even includes a pony!

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