How many $850 electronic paper devices do you think will sell?

17 Comments

IrexreaderI’m sitting here sadly shaking my head because of the Forbes article I’m reading. They’re covering some new standalone eBook devices and I’m shaking my head due to the anticipated prices:

“Though Plastic Logic won’t yet reveal the price for its device, iRex says its basic reader will start at $650. (By contrast, Kindle sells for $360.) Adding a writable screen to the iRex reader will cost another $100, and equipping it with wi-fi, Bluetooth and a 3G cell connection for downloading documents will raise the price to $850.”

Now I realize that the devices are geared towards business customers thanks to the large 10.2-inch eInk display that is touch-capable for annotations with a stylus. But that actually illustrates a problem that I think is a larger issue than the price: is there really a market for this type of device in the business world? Folks in the enterprise who want to read PDFs, Word docs and HTML already have mobile devices that can handle those functions. We call them laptops. Yes, it would nice to have a thin, printed experience type of device but is there a driving need for such a thing… especially at a price like this? I don’t think so, but I’m not the market, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts. I just see limited use in a standalone device like this that probably won’t stop the suits from carrying their laptop in the first place. Maybe the unveiling of the new iRex device next week will offer more insights as to the value.(Image: Forbes)

17 Comments

borax99 (Alain C.)

No sale!

$850 is about what I paid for a spanking-new HP tx2508ca. Granted, it is a tablet with some compromises, but at least there you get bang for the buck !

Semantic

I’m personally interested in one of these for note taking capabilities in meetings (assuming I can transfer over to onenote or evernote after..).

I have a T2010 tablet that has 8-9 hours of battery life and weights 3.8lbs for that at the moment (costing over $2000). I still find it a bit tiresome to take into meetings to store my scrawl, plus its chunky on the desk.

The new iRex weights just over 1lb and will most likely have over 20 hours of battery life. Will be watching the reviews with interest.

A cheap netbook can handle most of the rest of my computing needs..

Eric H.

I think that these products are in the same boat with net books; why are they needed? These devices are just “cool” and thats it. What practical reason would a large corporation choose these things or netbooks over a laptop? The bus execs are looking for devices with the most versatility possible; the most bang for their buck. Clearly these readers, like netbooks, will be looked upon as mere cool IT gadget wizardry.

Somename

What I wrote:

I can see perhaps buying one roughly as described for use around the gym, where I now read magazines and newspapers during and between many exercises. It’s somewhat lacking as a more general business tool but would get points if it basically gave a laptop tablet sitting next to it features.

What I meant to write:

I can see perhaps buying one roughly as described for use around the gym, where I now read magazines and newspapers during and between many exercises. It’s somewhat lacking as a more general business tool but would get points if it basically gave a laptop sitting next to it tablet features.

Thorsten

I have been eyeing the Iliad for some time but it has been too expensive for me. In the US it is still $600 I believe and despite the conversion it is a scandalous €600 in the Netherlands (home of Irex tbw).

Although I think it would be great to have such a device to read and annotate university papers as well as read the afternoon paper I just can’t justify the expense. Especially since PDF files right now can’t be annotated only read. I truly hope that will be fixed in a new release of the firmware.

Somename

I can see perhaps buying one roughly as described for use around the gym, where I now read magazines and newspapers during and between many exercises. It’s somewhat lacking as a more general business tool but would get points if it basically gave a laptop tablet sitting next to it features.

I’d like to see that screen swappable onto a convertible laptop, perhaps with a dual-core Atom; I wonder how much battery life it might add over an LED-backlit LCD. I’d give up some video and color for weight and battery life, at least as an alternative, at some price.

BBusyB

What you might not be considering especially when comparing it to normal tablets and UMPS are a few factors

* Battery life – Even the current generation Irex device gets 15+ hours and from whats being heard, they been working hard to address the shortcomings.

* Screen – Its a e-ink screen, which means its going be a lot more easier in the eyes then a normal LCD. and getting the version with the touch screen means that you can annotate and edit documents directly on it.

* Size and Weight – Keep in mind that the device is going to be thinner and lighter then most Tablets, even Slates. and the slates that are in that form factor are much more expensive.

* Service – While iRex service has been horrible in the past, they appear to have learned, and recently moved all their support in house. And one thing to keep in mind is that iRex never really wanted to go into the consumer market, they were mainly interested and geared to supplying to and supporting companies.

And while the price does seem to be a expensive compare it to

* a year’s worth of textbooks at Collage ($1000-1500)

* a slate tablet like motion.

* The cost of having to print and ship around manuals for a tech support team. and while they may already have laptops, a device like this will probably be easier to carry and use in the field.

* Lawyers, Accountants, etc. – Basicely anyone who need to have a lot of reference material within easy reach , and in a easily searchable format. and for the lawyers, the ability to lookup and mark-up briefs, which could then easily be synced with their computer.

That brings us to another major point. The device is not going to do any of this unless the software is up to scratch, which it has not been in the past. but They are supposed to make a major software announcement alongside the ‘official’ release, so lets see.

Tate J

I’d love to have something like this, but its only worth about $150.00 tops.

I don’t every wireless connection method. Just wifi or bluetooth so I can transfer files back and forth

James P

I think depending on how the they market it, and who they target, it could do very well. The fact that it’s limited in its function may be an added plus, as there is less to learn. Readers of this blog, would rather use a tablet pc, but for corporate officers, members of congress, legal professionals, it may make sense. All it would take would be a few high profile users.

mark

Holy hell, you can buy a full umpc for that kind of money and play solitare in addition to reading! Maybe they haven’t seen the news lately…people aren’t in the mood to throw money at crap anymore.

Gonzalo

Tc1100 works great for me, i just wish i would have got the motion ls800. portability is a huge factor for me.

Andrew P

Ditto for ISO certified companies where keeping paper copies of docs around is a no-no.

I’ll probably be getting one for myself. I have a Sony PRS505, but the lack of search or any kind of annotation capability makes it nearly useless for non-linear reference reading. Can’t get the Kindle here in Canada.

In the iRex devices, it’s the pen input combined with WiFi that does it for me. I’ll be referencing and annotating O’Reilly Safari publications, IEEE publications, device datasheets and manuals, etc. Icing on the cake would be if I could use it as a configurable input device for my laptop/desktop via USB and/or bluetooth; doable if this version is still Linux-based.

CTSLICK

Seems to me this will hit the market with a loud…thud. User nomo mentioned the tc1100 above. I am shopping for a good used tc1100 right now and your description of the iRex device does nothing but reinforce my thinking…ESPECIALLY at that price point. Thin is nice but for me functionality commands my tolerance for price point a little more I guess.

Scotty

When you’re talking about iRex you also have to add: and the reliability of an XBOX 360, only with out the warranty extension.

In addition to the 10.2″ screen it better have a much faster CPU and actually have the ability to suspend/resume and sleep between E-Ink page turns.

The previous generation device didn’t have the power to render detailed PDF’s used in business. It was really only powered enough to quickly render pot boiler paper backs. Anything with lots of fonts and diagrams and it collapsed or even crashed.

And with all the connectivity in the top end unit there better be onboard annotation capability. One of the serious limits of the prior units was that all annotation had to be composted on your PC and there was no way to share data at a meeting. You couldn’t have someone hand you a memory stick and drop a copy of the meeting notes on them (you can’t copy files, much less composite them even to this day).

Service and support were not up to corporate standards either.

It’s going to take a lot more than a 10.2″ screen.

Gonzalo

“Yes, it would nice to have a thin, printed experience type of device but is there a driving need for such a thing… especially at a price like this?”

Absolutely correct Kevin, the price range is wayyy off. I can do the same and more with my used tc1100 which costs me 450$. But! i’ve been considering a device like this for the following reasons:

I recently purchased an eee 1000h which is good enough to be my primary computer, the tc1100 is purely for note taking and carrying/reading college textbooks and annotating on them. I was seriously considering selling the tc1100 and going for a device like the Kindle or Sony reader just because the battery life is 100X better on those devices, not to mention the weight. the problem with the kindle/sony reader is they don’t handle PDF files very well, and you can’t scribble your notes on them. The Irex Iliad or ebook (older versions of this new device) have the ability to do this, IF the price was right, i would get one in a heartbeat. It’s a superlight notepad, i can carry all my textbooks, it has superb battery life, not quite worth 700-800$ if i can do the same in my ancient tc1100.

nomo

This makes sense if: 1) you have enough moeny not to care about $850, or 2) the device connects to your laptop (preferably wirelessly) and provides tablet functionality for the computer. Otherwise, it’s just another overpriced dedicated device (IMO).

Weylund

The legal market might eat these things up. Reviewing, marking up, and redacting documents may never have been easier or more convenient.

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