New eReaders, Kindle Killers & iPad Killers

It’s been fashionable for the last two years to label every new device a Kindle Killer or an eReader Killer – Now, journalists and bloggers all over the world are overcome with euphoria at the realization that the new breed of Tablets can be called Kindle Killers, eReader Killers, and also iPad Killers. No more need to waste time thinking up good headlines. 

Asus Eee Tablet anointed Kindle Killer, iPad Killer

Gizmodo demonstrate their ingenuity by devising a painfully inaccurate headline  – Asus Eee Tablet: Call It a Kindle-Slayer, Not an iPad Killer.

  • Number of Times iPad is mentioned in the article: 0.
  • Number of times the Kindle is mentioned in the article: 0.
  • Number of comparisons with either Kindle or iPad: 0.

Yet Gizmodo is so in love with the concepts of kindle killer and iPad killer it finds a way to stuff them into the headline.

Let’s take a look at this new device, the Asus Eee Tablet, which seems to have such violent tendencies – 

  1. 2540 dpi screen. That seems impossibly high. Let’s see what it looks like with that sort of richness.
  2. A 8″ black/white passive TFT LCD screen with 1024 by 768 resolution and 64 levels of gray.
  3. Fast 0.1 second page turns.
  4. Will be between $200 and $299.
  5. Take notes with a stylus – highly sensitive touchscreen. There are a variety of notepad templates to choose from.
  6. A 2 MP camera. Take pictures and write on them.
  7. WiFi.
  8. MicroSD card slot and USB port to connect with PCs. 
  9. Will arrive in September.
  10. There is no backlight and Asus promises up to 10 hours of battery life.
  11. Asus is billing it as electronic notepad + eReader + media player.

Some of the above details are courtesy Hot HardwareTech in Style has lots of nice Asus Eee Tablet photos.

Asus Eee Tablet Details

From the photos it’s clear that -

  1. When reading a book you have Page Numbers and a tempting Full Screen option.
  2. There are buttons for table of contents, zoom in, zoom out, Settings, Highlighter, Pen, Bookmark, and what seems to be a full screen icon.
  3. Apps include Calendar, Calculator, Notebooks, Photo Albums, Sticky Notes, To Do List, and Voice Memo. The Apps are presented in a cover flow type view.
  4. There’s a search functionality and you seem to be able to search within a single notebook (and presumably a single book).
  5. It says you can store, sort, tag, and organize your notes.

Whoever provided the photos didn’t do a thorough job because the page that shows the list of Apps also claims to be Page 134. It’s rather unlikely that there are 134 pages of Apps.

Asus is targeting students and mobile businessmen and it’s going to be a pretty good fit for both – although you have to wonder about the gap between what is the best device for these two demographics and what device these two groups find the most appealing. Surely a device that would let them watch movies or surf the Net or play games while pretending to be working or playing would be much more attractive than the Asus Eee Tablet. 

Does the Asus Eee Tablet measure up?

Well, it’s an easy question to answer –  

  • The Asus Eee Tablet is obviously not an iPad killer. It’s not a do-everything device so there’s no way it can compete with the iWhatever.
  • The Asus Eee Tablet is probably not a Kindle killer either. It doesn’t use eInk and apart from writing functionality and the high screen resolution there aren’t any strong points.

In a way the Asus Eee Tablet tries to take the best of LCD screens and the best of eInk screens without realizing it’s also taking some of the disadvantages of both. The net result is that it isn’t really a huge threat to either the iPad or the Kindle.

eReader invasion from the East

Asus isn’t the only Asian company looking to capture a chunk of the exploding eReader market. There are three other very interested companies.

Acer LumiRead eReader takes on Kindle

The LA Times reports on the Acer LumiRead -

  1. The LumiRead has a 6″ eInk screen.  
  2. It has a camera that lets a user scan a book’s bar code and then compare the ebook price or add the book to a wishlist.
  3. Acer is set to release it in USA, China, and Germany in Q3, 2010 (perhaps even as soon as July). 

There’s a lot more on the LumiRead at my Kindle vs Acer Lumiread comparison post.

Delta’s Color eReader named eMagazine

This is a rather interesting new eReader that somehow managed to escape my attention (well, until now) -

  1. eMagazine is a Color eReader that uses particle-based technologies Delta and Bridgestone have jointly developed. 
  2. Its 13″ display shows complete magazine pages one at a time – no need for scrolling and zooming.
  3. It’s half the weight of the iPad. 

Go to love how Delta contrast screen size with 6″ eReaders and weight with the iPad.  

Delta also drum up quite a strong argument against LCDs -

Apple’s iPad and some e-readers sport LCD displays, which can show color. But those are harder to see in sunlight, cause eye-fatigue and consume much more power than the e-paper displays used in other e-readers.

Very valid points.

There are also two interesting snippets on their future plans -

Delta’s Lee said the company hopes to develop in two to three years particle-based displays that can display sharper colors like magazine pages, instead of the more shady colors its e-Magazine now displays.

No price tag was given for e-Magazine.

Lee said publishers may offer the e-readers free with a two or three years magazine subscription.

Really? Sign me up right now.

If Delta do deliver a 13″ color eReader that’s comparable to eInk in readability – then they will be very well placed. They’re promising to have something out by December 2010.

Hanwang plans to dominate the Chinese market and become world’s #1 eReader maker

Hanwang keep coming up and we now have both LA Times and Financial Times writing about them -

  1. Hanwang sold 266,000 eReaders in 2009.  
  2. They plan to sell over 1 million eReaders this year. 
  3. They released a 6″ eInk based eReader just last month.
  4. The founder, Mr. Liu Yingjian, wants to make Hanwang a Fortune 500 company.
  5. The founder also thinks that Tablets will not replace eReaders and that within 3 years there would no longer be any confusion between the two.

Hanwang’s Founder is pretty confident and went as far as to claim that by 2012 Hanwang would be the biggest eReader company in the world -

 “By the year after next at the latest, we will be the biggest in the world. Why? Because China is the world’s biggest market,” Mr Liu said.

He brings up the fact that US companies struggle with localization and Chinese character recognition. Wonder how much of a factor that is and how much of a factor is the uncertainty of doing business in China.

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