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The Skiff, the largest eBook reader on the market, debuted at this year’s  Consumer Electronics Show. The device is optimized for newspaper and magazine content and boasts an 11.5-inch touchscreen with 1600×1200 resolution and 3G+WiFi connectivity. Price TBA.

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LG has developed a 19″ flexible electronic-paper screen that “only requires power when the screen is refreshed.” I wonder what the battery life will be?

eReaders and tablets have flooded this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Advances in technology have made it possible to manufacture these devices with a longer battery life and at an “ever-decreasing cost,” according to the NY Times.

“There are a billion and a half Internet users on the planet today, and a lot of them are primarily using it for entertainment and social networking,” said Glen Burchers, director of global consumer segment marketing at Freescale, a chip company hoping to power the new tablets. [via A Deluge of Devices for Reading and Surfing]

Consumers will soon be able to pick and choose from a wide range of products specifically designed for reading and/or surfing the Internet, for around the price of a netbook. Perhaps these WiFi-ready reading devices will help to rescue, or at least keep afloat the floundering print & publishing industries.

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Bonnier R&D and design firm BERG partnered to explore the future of digital magazines. Below is a conceptual video for  Mag+, a prototype for a future issue of Popular Science. According to Bonnier, they tried to capture the essence of magazine reading and create an experience where “high-quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories.”

Sports Illustrated has their own take:

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3D HDTV was another buzzword at CES 2010, but the technology has been hyped up too much.

Watching Avatar 3D was a great experience, but I can’t imagine having to wear bulky 3D glasses over my glasses every time I wanted to watch TV. That would be a (dizzying) pain. I hope 3D TV doesn’t become standard.

I’ve compiled the features & tech specs of the eBook readers out on the market and whittled them down for your convenience. Major product perks are in bold–which one will you buy?

Amazon Kindle (6″ screen, 2GB, 10 oz.) = $259
Amazon Kindle DX (9.7″ screen, 4GB, 19 oz.) = $489

  • Audiobooks, eBooks, newspapers, and magazines are available.
  • Supports TXT, MP3, and Audible natively; many other file formats by conversion.
  • 3G wireless and has a basic web browser.
  • 16 levels of gray; 4 days of battery life with wireless on, 2 weeks of battery life without.
  • Charges via USB or power adapter. Has 3.5mm audio jack and built-in stereo speakers.
  • Features image zoom, bookmarking & annotations, dictionary, and text-to-speech.
  • International version of the Kindle has global wireless access.
  • *Kindle DX auto-rotates for reading in landscape or portrait mode and supports PDFs.

—–Barnes & Nobles Nook (6″ EInk + 3.5″ color touchscreen, 2GB expandable, 11.2 oz) = $259

  • eBooks, magazines, and newspapers are available.
  • Supports EPUB, eReader, PDFs, image & MP3 files.
  • 3G Wireless and Wi-Fi, but no web browser.
  • 16 levels of gray; 10 day battery life without wireless.
  • Features bookmarking & annotations, dictionary, and text-to-speech.
  • Charges via USB or power adapter. Has 3.5mm audio jack and built-in mono speaker.
  • *Lend books out to friends & family on their computers, cell phones, or Nooks.
  • Personalized screensavers, wallpapers, and backplate; runs on Android OS.

—– Sony Pocket Reader Edition PRS-300SC (5″ screen, 512MB, 8 oz.) = $199
Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600BC (6″ touchscreen, 512MB expandable, 10 oz.) = $299

  • >1 million public domain books available from Google. Magazines & newspapers TBA.
  • Supports ePub, PDF, BBeB Book and other formats by conversion.
  • No wireless and no web browser.
  • 8 levels of gray; 2 weeks battery life.
  • Charges via USB and has a 3.5mm audio jack.
  • *Touch edition supports freehand annotation, images & MP3 files.

eReader devices such as the Amazon Kindle are made for a tiny niche of consumers who want digital content (magazines, books, newspapers) on-the-go. A laptop or smartphone is excessive and even inappropriate for a purpose so simple as reading.

Why? Our computer displays are like TVs. Good for motion pictures, not so much for scanning pages of print.

Transmissive LCDs, prevalent across consumer electronics, require a backlight to illuminate the layer of liquid crystals. These screens are fine indoors, but appear dull and muted if brought out in daylight. For serious reading, they should set at decent refresh rates to avoid eyestrain (above 60Hz, please).
The displays on eReaders, however, are different.
kindledx
Without delving into the technology, eReaders use eInk displays that deliver high readibility (high contrast + high resolution) with much less power consumption.

eInk displays are reflective–if you bring it out in the sun it only gets brighter–and can be viewed comfortably from any angle. That’s why the eReader beats a laptop or iTablet when it comes to reading. Think of your eyes.

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One obvious downside is you can’t read in the dark. And damn, these things are expensive for not having an color. But I still want one! I love reading newspapers, but they don’t always fit in my bag and it’s troublesome when they accumulate. I enjoy the tangible nature of paper, but again, it piles up.

To Amazon and all the other eReader manufacturers: cut your prices, throw in the option of an LED backlight, and start developing those color eInk displays.

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Also, eInk is thin and can be made very flexible. Even if eReaders don’t take off in popularity, I can see eInk replacing paper in many forms.

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