The e-reader category was hot at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month in Las Vegas.
The category really extends over the worlds of e-readers, e-ink and e-paper. These are disciplines that highly overlap but are not synonymous. At CES, according to CNN, at least four significant eReader announcements and introductions were made: the Skiff Reader, the EnTourage eDGe, the Blio and the Que from Plastic Logic.
This category is fun: The Skiff's display is a thin and flexible piece of stainless steel covered by plastic. The EnTourage offers an e-reader on one side and a netbook on the other (the company calls it a "dualbook"). The Blio turns any Microsoft-based laptop, netbook or smartphone into an e-Reader and the Que is aimed at professionals and is the size and thickness of a pad of paper, CNN reports.
The category is rife with strange terminology and new ideas. Dvice compares two of the new products, the Que and the Skiff. The writer observed that "it's weird how similar the two devices are" in terms of hardware. He goes on to say, however, that Skiff is available as a software app and therefore could end up in laptops, tablets and smartphones and offer color content.
The innovation did not stop when CES ended. Yesterday, LG Display said it is developing a 19-inch monochrome e-paper display that is nearly flexible enough to fold. It is a thin film transistor array that uses thin metal foil. The story offers more technical information, and says the product weighs almost 4.6 ounces and is similar to the Skiff Reader, which also uses a screen made by LG Display. A picture at the link shows a display that looks strikingly like a newspaper.
e-ink, e-paper and e-readers exemplify the growing debate about whether sole-purpose devices such as e-readers will predominate, or if smartphones, tablets and other general-purpose devices will be able to provide many of the benefits as applications. In the end, there's probably room for both approaches.