I try not to hop on the latest tech fad bandwagon. Not only that, I rarely blog about it. There are lots of blogs that post 30 times a day about the latest incremental upgrade to some lame flatscreen monitor, and I can't compete with that. I like to attempt to keep up on trends, but let's face it: technology is moving far faster than I can handle. Plus, there are things I just like to write about more than marketing somebody else's products.
However, I am hereby making an exception, because there are products about to come out that will significantly improve my internet experience. ePaper (or eInk - they're the same thing, I believe) displays are being integrated into devices which will mobilize the consumption of content on the internet in a new way. These devices are to the computer display what the computer display was to books. Here's the highlights:
- No backlighting: For me, staring at a source of radiation is often the cause of fatigue, especially when working long hours.
- Reflectivity: You can read it outside just as easily as a piece of paper in direct light!
- Higher contrast: This works hand in hand with the reflectivity to give you a printed media feel to the content.
- Low power consumption: Now here's the coup d'grace. ePaper only requires power when the display changes. Think about that: you only consume power when you flip pages. This results in battery lives of up to a week! The technology, in fact, already exists for ePaper to completely replace conventional paper in the office. Legal-size sheets of film-like ePaper can be loaded with content, removed from the loading device, and persist the display indefinately with no power consumption whatsoever.
The only real drawbacks are grayscale displays (no color ePaper - yet), slow refresh rates (it's designed for static content obviously) and cost. A survey of new ePaper reading devices reveals a device from Sony for under $400, but that locks you into a proprietary format. I'm more inclined to go with the iRex iLiad (pictured to the left), but that's looking like it will be pricey. It'd be worth it for full open standard support, however. And just check these pics out - that is one slick device, with WiFi ta boot!
My real concern, however, is the way I will get content to these machines. Will there be a browser integrated? The bottom line is that I get my content from the web, so I'd better have either a browser or a way to easily push content from, say, my feed reader to the eReader. If I have to manually drop articles onto the reader, my browsing workflow will be retarded, not enhanced, by this device.
I try not to jump on tech bandwagons, and I'm typically always behind the curve. That said, I'm really looking forward to these ePaper devices, and I'm willing to pay a premium price to get it now. Nothing would be cooler than to be able to chill on my front porch, read articles on the 'net in the sun, and enjoy the outdoors while I'm in the Matrix. I'm interested to see how these devices are marketed, priced, and evolved - the implications of this technology are vast and (for once) personally relevant. Hell, if you're gonna swallow the blue pill you might as well get the best steak possible out of it.