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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is This the E-Book We’re Waiting For?

posted by on May 22 at 12:00 PM


Laptop Magazine has a first look, with video, of the next generation of the One Laptop Per Child project, which is possibly due in 2010. It would be composed of two touch screens, so you can use it as a keypad. But one of the major goals of the initial OLPC was to make it an energy-efficient and, most importantly, eye-friendly e-reader. Setting the thing up to look like a book is a major deal; I’m surprised that more laptop manufacturers haven’t done this.

I was intrigued by the OLPC, but I actually bought an Asus EEE as my low-budget, low-weight travel laptop instead. I have no regrets about the EEE, but it certainly isn’t an e-reader. This next-generation OLPC looks like maybe the first e-reader that I would actually use from time to time, especially when traveling.

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Who is waiting for one?

By 2050, we're all going to have eye tumors.

Posted by Mr. Poe | May 22, 2008 12:19 PM

no one has done this before because typing on a surface that does "give" under pressure is painful and difficult. Also, it should be noted that one of the goals of the OLPC project was a sub-$100 laptop. It's now nearly $400. OLPC is trying for a $75 price-point with this one. No freaking way.

Posted by cmaceachen | May 22, 2008 12:27 PM

@2, if by $400 you actually mean $188, then yes, you're right. Now I realize that you're probably speaking about the "Buy-One, Give-One" program in which you pay for two computers and one gets sent to a child in need, but for the sake of your argument, you're not on point. I agree that the $75 price point is unrealistic, but if it's below $200, I would expect the device to sell quite well.

Posted by Preston | May 22, 2008 12:35 PM

That's the problem with OLPC: It doesn't actually exist. Nick Negroponte is totally full of shit. He can't deliver ANY of his pie-in-the-sky brainclouds -- never has, never will.

Posted by Fnarf | May 22, 2008 12:36 PM

A neat idea if they can ever pull it off. OLPC's track record is not exactly encouraging.

Posted by mattymatt | May 22, 2008 12:39 PM

@3, you're right, i misspoke regarding the price of the current OLPC. However, I still don't see this as a viable notebook or e-reader. Typing for any meaningful amount of time would require an external keyboard and battery life wouldn't allow it to be a useful e-reader.

Posted by cmaceachen | May 22, 2008 12:54 PM

Asus isn't bankrupt yet?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 22, 2008 1:07 PM

E-readers are never going to catch on. Books are supposed to be things, not files.

Posted by The CHZA | May 22, 2008 1:11 PM

I got my eee for $295 with a Linux OS pre-installed. That pc pictured looks pretty cool though.

Posted by asus owner | May 22, 2008 1:12 PM

I believe any e-reader that uses E-ink such as the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader feels pretty good to my eyes. No refresh rate flicker, just etch-a-sketch style solid grey/black.

Posted by Anon | May 22, 2008 1:39 PM

@10. e-ink is currently the only viable e-reader solution because it only uses power when changing pages, and is often rated at 1000's of page changes per charge (as opposed to 2-6 hours for most notebooks). You're right, it also looks pretty good.
@8. If I could get non-DRM e-books at lower price than a physical book, I'd switch immediately. Given that most people don't seem to mind DRM, I think we'll see a decent surge in e-book sales in the next 5 years. It used to be that people wanted physical media when they bought music. Now mp3s are huge.

Posted by cmaceachen | May 22, 2008 1:50 PM

Asus Eee, it comes with Linux. Just tried Linux for the first time a few weeks ago (, gotta say, not going back to the old boys. Bye bye windows, nice knowing you osx.

Posted by mattro2.0 | May 22, 2008 3:27 PM
13 in the younger brother of John Negroponte. Just fucking great.

Posted by Shawn Fassett | May 22, 2008 3:58 PM

I've found that I really like reading ebooks on my Tablet PC. Unlike a regular laptop which is a pain to balance, I can hold the tablet like I would a pad of paper. I can read at night without having to have a lamp on keeping anyone else awake, and the last time I flew cross-country I fit 1500 pages of text in an inch of space in my bag.

Posted by celyn | May 22, 2008 8:32 PM

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