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Summary:

One of the most amusing things in the mobile tech world is how the more things change, the more the same things come around again and again. Take the e-book craze, which is seeing more companies than you can shake a stick at promise us the […]

One of the most amusing things in the mobile tech world is how the more things change, the more the same things come around again and again. Take the e-book craze, which is seeing more companies than you can shake a stick at promise us the newest, bestest reader ever. Looking at these new gadgets makes one thing clear: We’ve seen these before, and quite a long time ago.

Take the two promised “readers” from Paradigm Shift, which will be color readers and so much more. The two gadgets, slated to appear next week at CES, will have 5- and 7-inch screens for high contrast viewing. They will also bring “impressive battery life” as they run Windows CE. Using CE means they will not be mere e-book readers, but will be able to do much more.

If this sounds familiar to you it’s because Windows CE “e-book readers” have been out for almost 10 years. The first Pocket PCs ran Windows CE and had e-book reading software readily available. Paradigm Shift also points out that its revolutionary gadgets will be able to do such things as read Microsoft Office documents. Hello, that capability has been available in CE for years.

The good news is that the company claims it will be able to sell the two readers for $150 and $200, making them cheap alternatives to other single-purpose readers on the market. But they should be cheap; they’re using years-old technology and bring functionality I had almost a decade ago.

  1. Well at least they are cheap. The ability to read MS Office Docs and pdf’s is something I need for work.

    I want to put my hands on one before I plunk down cash.

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  2. I wonder if MS Reader supports lit well on this screen size and touch screen? (But, of course, we are hearing rumors that MS might be tied to a different approach to e-books now with Blio, so who knows how committed they are to either .lit or MS Reader in the future.)

    Still, if there will be a decent selection of applications for e-book reading on this form factor with Android or Windows Mobile or Windows or Linux, I’m pretty interested in an alternative like this myself. I generally prefer a general computing platform over a dedicated device because of the flexibility. Backlighting is nice. As well as color and low prices and what would seem to be reasonable battery life.

    I hope we see more of these. Whether it’s an old idea or not, the newer hardware should be revolutionary in terms of true usability.

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    1. I quit MS Reader after the last debacle I had with them:

      http://jkontherun.com/2004/07/23/new_computer_fo/

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      1. Yep, I agree for anything DRM protected it’s a pain in the neck and not worth the trouble. Good point.

        But for reading non-DRM’d content I like it. (I know I may be in the minority, but I really like MS Reader. And Calibre can generate the non-DRM .lit files with ease.) In that area, my real concern has more to do with longevity of the software, and support for the UMPC form factor.

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  3. You can already get cheap Windows CE readers – the SmartQ 5 and the SmartQ 7.

    If you do a search on Eletroworld (no ‘C’) you’ll find a Chinese store that sells all kinds of interesting CE products.

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    1. I’m seeing those with Ubuntu and one with android.

      I’m also finding that claims of cross platform ebook readers (as the SmartQs 5 & 7 have) doesn’t necessarily mean the ability to read DRM encoded ebooks. If FBReader can open DRM files, those look like excellent alternatives to the Nook and Cranny, er, Kindle.

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      1. Unfortunately, no DRM support (so far). From the FBReader web site… “FBReader doesn’t support any encrypted (secure) book format. Don’t buy book in encrypted format if you plan to read it using FBReader.” But if e-books become popular on these non-Windows UMPC-like devices, I’m sure some applications will follow for the most popular DRM schemes.

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