The Fifty Dollar eBook Reader Component Costs

   
   
   
   
   
martin woodhouse
Martin a few years ago

I thought I should report on where we are with the design of the $50 I-Book Reader. "We", in this instance, being myself, my young business partner Ben Wibaut, and David Thornhill, who teaches engineering at Queens University, Belfast and who is making a model of the I-Reader for display purposes.

Before I list the components we suggest for this machine, with their costs and their estimated power consumption -- an absolutely vital aspect of things for a solar-powered device -- may I remind everyone that its design process is quite different in approach from most information processing gear, including the XO.

We are here asking not how much in the way of function we can supply for a given complexity, but rather the reverse. The only task we have is that of taking a few kilobytes out of memory and displaying them on a screen as a picture in 64 colours or less.

How, then, can we achieve this as simply as possible, and using what in the way of power? The answer here is "with a power demand so small that we can supply it from a solar panel built into the lid of the Reader itself."

We thus, at a stroke, both simplify things enormously and avoid all the costs of outside power provision which bloat the expense sheets for the XO and its competitors.
In the UK, at equinox, a photovoltaic (solar) panel of 8" by 6" can supply a mean of just over 4 watt-hours per average day with a peak output of around a watt. So we should be aiming for an overall requirement for the I-Reader of (say) 0.1 watt minimum, 0.2 watts as a mean, up to a maximum of around 1.2 watts when the processor and other components are running at full transfer speed and the screen is backlit.

This constrains design and performance considerably, but turns out to be achievable. (As always, I invite comments on any aspect of design from anyone who may have them.) Here, then, is a list of all the components needed, with quoted costs where available or estimates where I have been unable to find them.

Screen
We start with the MIT (Mary Lou Jepson's) dual mode screen, since we have a quoted price for it at US$16, and known power consumption figures of 0.1W with the backlight off, 1 Watt when backlit

Processor
There are several low-power processors we might use, but I have chosen the ARM9 core. It's capable of 300 MIPS when running at 180MHz, though in fact -- again, since all we're doing is taking small pages out of memory and putting them on ths screen -- we probably don't need anything like this speed.

However, it comes complete with 16K each of instruction and data caches, plus 160Kb SRAM and an 8-level interrupt controller, as the A9(!SAM9261 'board', for US$ 10 (quoted, in 1,000 quantity). And it consumes only 0.2 Watts when fully loaded, and a tiny 16 microwatts when in standby -- that is, when a page had been loaded to the screen and its static image is merely being read.

Battery
Now that we have solar power in the I-Reader, we only need a small battery. With its charging mechanism, it's mainly used to "smooth out" power delivery from the solar panel itself, plus a small reserve for times when a book is being read after dark. I suggest 2 x standard NiMH AA cells, which will give us 2.4 volts and a capacity of more than 2.4 Watt-hours. Cost in bulk, US$2 at a guess.

Case
With four button-switches, auxiliary power socket, the serial socket (wireless, if possible) for e-book library 'cards', etc: say $11 -- until production volume becomes large enough to reduce this.

Solar Panel
8" x 6", sunk into lid as shown here: $4 (quoted price)

Total estimated cost here, therefore, comes to US$43.

Although much of this is merely estimated if not guesswork, I believe that a production run in the hundreds of thousands should easily bring this little machine in at -- as its quoted title states -- the "Fifty-Dollar E-Book Reader."

Note: In point of fact we are currently redesigning the 'lid' so that it is hinged and more closely resembles a book cover, while still containing the solar panel.

In future articles I will try to discuss the actual process by which the Illumination Reader could be prototyped, tested and brought to market, including the unique software which enables it to perform as it does and which, therefore, is crucial to the project as a whole.

I have said -- and I repeat now -- that although I don't believe it will be a good idea to rewrite this piece of software in Linux and thereby make it 'open-source' in formal terms, I am perfectly prepared and indeed intend to make it available free of charge to anyone who wants to create an Illumination book in any language.

In the end (and this applies to the XO as well) it the supply of 'books', of class-work, of information of all kinds which matters more than the actual technology behind that supply. It's the teaching and the teachers, not the blackboard. Professor Negroponte saw that clearly when he set out on this voyage, and many others have observed it too.

We may well argue among ourselves over such matters as whether we need to teach our children -- the children of the world -- computer literacy or just plain ordinary literacy. But, whatever is the case, I believe that this Reader can travel a long way towards the end which Negroponte, and OLPC, identified.

And, therefore, that it will be a very great pity indeed if it is not taken up, supported and developed, for that end and for the benefit of those children who need, first and foremost, words and pictures.

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28 Comments

Interesting post. Just to be clear:

You are proposing a proprietary 'Illumination book' format, into which existing materials would have to be converted?

Could you sketch out some scenarios for how this might occur? (i.e. how you think content owners might be enticed to have their content converted for use on this platform, how public domain content might be adapted, etc.)

Also:

How does the content get 'on' the book reder itself?
I see in your cost breakdown "the serial socket (wireless, if possible) for e-book library 'cards', etc" -- are you proposing that individual books would be available on individual cards (purchased separately at addiitonal costs?).

Available over the Internet somehow (in which case, there would need to be a mechanism for content storage on the web in appropriate formats, and some way to sync content)?

My apologies if I am asking questions that you have already answered in your posts on the topic.

I think you still fall for the same critique I always made: if I had to wish for a generation of readers or a generation of creators, writers, drawers wich would you choose?

But the good news is that I believe on free market forces, and defend the idea that all OLPC laptop plans should be open sourced and released so that small industrialists (those who make cheap taiwanese copycats) could actually invest in projects like that without spending too much on R&D

Hi Martin . . .

Your idea about the solar panel as part of you ebook has piqued my interest somewhat. I'm not an expert on this technology but I did a fair amount of reading about it this summer.

Not all solar panels are created equal. The cheapest variety, conventional amorphous film, are not particularly efficient (5% or so) and may be only good for about 5 years. The multi-crystalline variety fare much better in terms of efficiency (15% and upward) and have a useful lifespan of 20 years or more.

Mono-crystalline panels are even more efficient and have a similar long lifespan.There are also some new thin film technologies that compare very favorably in terms of efficiency and lifespan to the crystalline ones.

Please feel free to contact me off-list and I can direct you towards specific solar panel manufacturers so that you can compare technologies and prices.

Hello anon

Yes, any reading material would need to be converted into 'Illumination format.' But Illumination pages are quite easy to create and I would, of course, make the creative part of Illumination available free of charge to anyone who wants to create an Illumination book. In fact, Illumination Publishing and its associated charity, The Light Of Learning, would be happy to publish any such works; it's part of our intended function

I think we'd need to start by converting -- "translating" -- works which are out of copyright.

Next (in fact, as soon as possible) I'd like to teach, and encourage, those people -- children or adults -- in the parts of the world which use the I-Reader, to write their own Illumination books in their own languages. (NOTE : In fact, this is an absolutely vital part of the whole education project, whatever machine(s) is/are used to distribute 'teaching' material and under whatever auspices it's done).

After that, well, once the project is running on a few million machines in several dozen countries, and in the developed world as well --- thereby making money, that old stuff -- we can allow commercial forces to take over and people will queue up to have their work presented in Illumination format, that being the way.the world works.

-------

As for the books themselves: Good question. I envisage a 'card' or other piece of RAM as being around the size of a postage stamp (for anything from a single issue of a magazine, or a brochure, up to a library of several hundred books) and to cost, well, a few cents?

Content for these little 'RAM-sticks' -- whatever their size or shape -- could indeed be downloaded from the NET if need be. But, where this is done, I'd expect it to happen at a 'centre' --- a library, a school, a bookshop, for instance --- where the material is downloaded and then copied (as can be done now) onto as many 'RAM-sticks' as happen to be needed by children in the surrounding areas.

At a few cents a throw, this wouldn't involve any great cost --- and, furthermore and vitally, would allow teachers ) to become deeply involved in the educational process, an aim which I believe we all consider important.

Hello Benjamin

Thanks for your notes on solar panels, a subject on which I shall indeed be contacting you.

The panel I've quoted above and on which my own current calculations are based is in fact one available as part of a small 'educational-toy kit' here in the UK, but obviously I (we) need as much information as we can get on the matter, including some kind of guess at future development and pricing of small PV panels (in million-unit quantities !)

Incidentally the next article I'll be writing here -- it will be appearing shortly, I hope -- is on the topic of solar energy as a power source for an e-book reader, with its general implications for the project as a whole.

Cheers, Martin

Hi Martin.

Just a few points.
'It's the teaching and the teachers, not the blackboard. Professor Negroponte saw that clearly when he set out on this voyage, and many others have observed it too.'

I thought Negroponte advocated schools without teachers.

Also you commented in your discussion,

'Next (in fact, as soon as possible) I'd like to teach, and encourage, those people -- children or adults -- in the parts of the world which use the I-Reader, to write their own Illumination books in their own languages.'

What would they be writing those on? Surely not an Illumination Reader?

Perhaps you should add a keyboard socket and the children then have the option to author their own work.
Better yet, put a keyboard on your reader, perhaps a rugged rubber one? It starts to look more like a PC then does it not?

On the subject of external pluggable memory. It makes far more sense to have just one USB port for connections. That way they can use cheap flash USB drives.

The ARM9 is a good choice for processor but it does make more sense to use Linux as the core OS and a lightweight GUI and something to render PDF files as the 'reader'. At least then you have options.

Hello Robert

No, the children (and adults) can -- of course -- create new Illumination books on the XO !

(I did say the I-Reader is not intended to supplant the XO, but to lead up to it.)

So, no, again, the last thing I want is for the I-Reader to look like a computer. It's an e-book reader, and that's what it should look (and feel) like.

And I don't think we can read .PDF files on a solar-powered machine. In any case, why bother? Illumination pages look nicer than most .PDF pages. (I am giving a link to an actual Illumination book in my next article, so that you can see for yourself what kind of beast we're talking about, here.

Cheers, Martin

In real life; PC looking eBook devices have readability problems, especially in sun light. Most people use computers in closed environments. Any laptop user can tell you that using a laptop outside has several problems. Glare is a problem. Natural light also undermines the resolution and rendering. eBooks have been around since Adobe Acrobat. The public at large rejected it, because in a natural environment (not florescent) the words are difficult to read. Paper has evolved over thousands years, so we take it for granted.

Besides, electronic paper is already here. Plastic Logic is the most famous in America, but there are others. Electronic paper avoids the disadvantages of an eBook.

http://www.plasticlogic.com/products.php

Plastic Logic looks great -- I'm interested to see it's what the Sony Reader uses -- and when it's developed enough to be able to deliver colour I'm sure that's what the I-Reader would like to use, too.

We have to allow (and happily!) for the fact that hardware is improving all the time. Presumably, for instance, solar (PV) panels will get more efficient, more flexible and cheaper than it they are now. Hardware improvement will, like everything else, be driven by demand.

Both Plastic Logic and Sony Reader use E-ink
http://www.eink.com/technology/
E-ink licensed the R&D data learned from Xerox Gyricon
http://www2.parc.com/hsl/projects/gyricon/

What Plastic Logic makes is synthetic material the Gyricon/E-ink molecules. Organic electroluminescent devices used to construct electronic paper has been researched in California, USA for 30 years. Color is available, but it is not in finished product yet.

"Electronic reusable paper utilizes a display technology, invented at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), called "Gyricon." A Gyricon sheet is a thin layer of transparent plastic in which millions of small beads, somewhat like toner particles, are randomly dispersed. The beads, each contained in an oil-filled cavity, are free to rotate within those cavities. The beads are "bichromal," with hemispheres of two contrasting colors (e.g. black and white, red and white), and charged so they exhibit an electrical dipole. When voltage is applied to the surface of the sheet, the beads rotate to present one colored side to the viewer. Voltages can be applied to the surface to create images such as text and pictures. The image will persist until new voltage patterns are applied."

Plastic Logic's flexible backplane is combined with a frontplane material
(e.g. electronic paper) to make a flexible display.

Please forget solar. From a human usability standpoint it needlessly complicates things for the end user. Just use rechargeable NiMH or Li-ION batteries.

And no propriety formats please, I know the lockin is appealing but I think most posters here would agree that they would rather see open document support for: .lit, .rtf, .djvu, plucker, .txt, .odf, .epub, .fb2, .odf, .opf, .pdf, .cbr, .cbz, .abw, .odt, .doc. And you'll need open font libraries as well.

I really don't think you need the upper context button, or the lower menu button, you'd be better off putting them out of the way on the base. I really hope that slot is for SD cards, anything else is just suicide, and you'll also need one or two USB 2.0 slots right beside the SD slot. And if possible I'd suggest a cheap external USB Wireless option to keep costs down.

So in summation, no format lockins, no solar panels, decent format support for current book and graphic novel formats and you'd have my money.

Let me repeat my previous thoughts about your ebook reader. On the one hand, it looks really neat and I wouldn't mind having one myself.

On the other hand, let's remember that in terms of components an ebook reader is basically a crippled computer. Add another 25-50% or so to the cost to supply the missing components (such as a keyboard) and you have a fully-functioning computer that can run programs, surf the internet, and so on, that is ten times as functional as an ebook -- a whole lot more bang for the buck, and therefore a much better investment.

"when it's developed enough to be able to deliver colour I'm sure that's what the I-Reader would like to use, too."

They have color already.
Like I said, people have been researching electronic paper for 30 years. Color is already available.
http://www.eink.com/press/releases/pr86.html

TOPPAN Printing Co,Funkwerk Karlsfeld GmbH, IXYS Micronix, Plastic Logic,Polymer Vision, LG.Philips all make electronic paper technology.

I'm sorry,.Eduardo, but 'a functioning computer which can run programs, surf the Internet, and so on, and is ten times more functional than an ebook' means you have the XO2. Or the "eee", or the Classmate, or whatever.

Which makes it fine for the nice tidy little girls and boys in their nice tidy little classrooms with their nice electricity supply and their Internet connections, and all,.in . . . well, wherever?

But -- don't you see? -- they aren't my children, my audience, my world? My children probably don't even have shoes.

Added to which, look where the XO and the aaa and the Classmate, etc, are now. Locked into a boring, boring, commercial battle for cheapo computers in the world's lower-end classrooms?

Ok, maybe not boring ---- but that isn't where Illumination, or The Light of Learning want to be. And it isn't where Nicholas Negroponte was headed, when he set out, either.

Cheers and love, Martin

I wouldn't "forget solar" as Xero is suggesting. You will obviously want some sort of battery (Nimh, LiPoly, etc) but you will also want a way to recharge it. Even the simplest of solar systems typically don't rely on just the panel to keep the DC power at a desirable level. The panel is there to charge the batteries and the device (an ebook, in this case) runs off the batteries. There is typically a simple regulator to prevent the panel from overcharging the batteries (when UV rays are doing "too good" of a job) and, alternately, lets the batteries do their work independently of the panel when conditions are less than ideal (clouds.) Don't think of the solar panel as a direvt replacement for the battery. Think of it as a key part of a simple-yet-elegant system that allows recharging of batteries when (and where) reliable AC power is not an option.

I see from Martin's illustration the the panel is part of a protective cover to protect the screen. I would hope that it is removable and that it could be connected to the ebook with a wire. Put the panel out in the sun where it is needed and place the ebook (and person) a few feet - or meters - away in the shade where it's more comfortable and where the screen can be read without glare.

We have had eBooks for almost 20 years. The problem was never portability. It was never popular, because it hurts peoples' eyes.The resolution of liquid crystal technology is just not good enough, and cathode ray tubes are worse.
http://www.techliving.com/archives/2006/04/sonys_easy_reader.shtml

Electronic paper has been around for 30 years. The problem was always the synthetic plastics needed to suspend the organic electroluminescent molecules.

We have had Constructivist learning for 25 years. The problem has always been that creating and implementing lessons is very difficult. So, it has always been a luxury.

Classrooms where the students all have laptops have existed for over 10 years. The problem has always been that the students do not learn any better nor faster. So, it has aways been a luxury or status symbol.

Internet service has been around since the early 1980's. The problem was always the infrastructure needed to deliver the service. It gets clogged. People have tried multiplexing and wider bandwidth, but it still gets clogged.

We've had ballpoint pens for about the past 60 years. Trouble is, they eventually clog and you have to clean the tip.

Pencils have been around since before the turn of the 20th century. Unfortunately, you have to stop what your doing and sharpen them every so often.

Geez, Robert! Tell me what's wrong with the stone tablet and chisel!

Benjamin,

I think you missed my point. These are the reasons the technology that the OLPC plans to implement has not been widely used. Rather than showing that they can overcome hardles that have baffled our scientists and enginners for years, the OLPC project chooses to pretend these challenges do not exist. When I say America has had these technologies for years, I mean that our scientists and engineers have been researching them that long. If these things were easy to make; they would be made by now.

California, USA started working on optical media in 1958, and Tokyo, Japan joined in 1975. Pioneer and Sony had to jump in and help, because the R&D costs bankrupted Magnavox and RCA. It is only now that all the stores have Laser disc ,CD,DVD ... It took from 1958 to now to solve the science and engineering problems. Scientists in Palo Alto California have been working to replace paper with e-paper/e-books since the early 1970's. Several companies went bankrupt from the R&D costs. If it was simple, they would have finished years ago. Research and development takes decades. The USA, Japan, Germany, and France are the only nations that have any real R&D. Most of the other nations just sit around or copy other people's work. Vice President Gore made our nation make sacrifices to build an "information super highway". Now people use the web to surf porn. What a waste.

The OLPC is just a cheap Dynabook, something people in California have been researching for decades. Negroponte should really give it to American children for free, since America has spent 30 years and tens of millions of dollars researching Dynabooks. People from Xerox PARC and Stanford Research should smack Negroponte in the head.

Martin,

"I'm sorry,.Eduardo, but 'a functioning computer which can run programs, surf the Internet, and so on, and is ten times more functional than an ebook' means you have the XO2. Or the "eee", or the Classmate, or whatever."

Exactly. In a couple of years XO will cost 50 dollars and do everything your ebook reader does and ten times more.

"Which makes it fine for the nice tidy little girls and boys in their nice tidy little classrooms with their nice electricity supply and their Internet connections, and all,.in . . . well, wherever?

But -- don't you see? -- they aren't my children, my audience, my world? My children probably don't even have shoes."

XO is designed for use outside the classroom in places where the children have torn, dirty clothes, there is no neat electricity and the children don't have shoes. Didn't you know that?

"Added to which, look where the XO and the aaa and the Classmate, etc, are now. Locked into a boring, boring, commercial battle for cheapo computers in the world's lower-end classrooms?"

It may be boring to you, but commercialization is how hardware gets out to the masses. How many exceptions can you think of?

Martin, would you be willing to give up all your computers and get along with just an ebook reader? My guess is you wouldn't, because your computers do so many things a ebook can't. XO is working to make it possible for hundreds of millions of children to do these many things, but you seem to think that is a bad idea.

Hi Eduardo

" In a couple of years XO will cost 50 dollars and do everything your ebook reader does and ten times more. "

By which time the I-reader will be down to $10.

And I repeat, once again:- I am not trying in any sense to replace the XO, but to lead children up towards it.

Finally :-

"Martin, would you be willing to give up all your computers and get along with just an ebook reader?"

Eduardo, if it were a choice between doing without my books and doing without my computers.it's a no-brainer. I can easily survive without the internet and a word processor: I would survive very badly indeed without books.

So it's books, every time. Surely the same is true for you?

And books, for the children without shoes, means an e-book reader.

Cheers, Martin

"We have had eBooks for almost 20 years. The problem was never portability. It was never popular, because it hurts peoples' eyes.The resolution of liquid crystal technology is just not good enough, and cathode ray tubes are worse."

The problem is _content_ more than anything else other than price.

In 1991 I started reading on a CRT -- from about ten at night to one the next afternoon, when my eyes hurt enough that it was time for me to go home and sleep. I was 15.

LCDs are much easier on the eyes than CRTs, and I spend, on average, eight hours a day reading content, stories and books, on them.

I read things on my Zaurus, but it's too much trouble to feed content to it unless I'm going to be away from net access for a significant period, and know I'm going to be able to read.

One issue is content -- books (at least ones that I haven't read and want to read) are hard to (legitmately) find, and the proliferation of formats isn't helped by the fact that many content producers seem convinced that Linux and Mac OS (classic and OS X) are not markets.

"And no propriety formats please, I know the lockin is appealing but I think most posters here would agree that they would rather see open document support for: .lit, .rtf, .djvu, plucker, .txt, .odf, .epub, .fb2, .odf, .opf, .pdf, .cbr, .cbz, .abw, .odt, .doc. And you'll need open font libraries as well."

Half of those formats are proprietary, and avoiding the need to translate them on the reader is a good thing. That's what computers are for. Of course, my favorite format is still plain old 80-column ASCII text, so I'm a curmudgion on that.

After that I like HTML, but a gzipped archive of text or html would shrink things a bit.

the e reader i envisage reads from an external storage devise like pendrive etc. it should have capability to book mark so that one can start from where he left reading. it should be possible to scroll the lines at variable speed to suit one's reading speed. it should be possible to go back in to refer an earlier page / line and similarly should be able to go forward to a later page / line for reference and return to the line under study. it should be possible to enlarge fonts for people with vision defect. as it is to be mainly used by primary / secondary school children it must be sturdy and withstand shocks like dropping from about 1.5 metres height, and also be capable of being dipped in water of about 1m depth for about a minute, withstand temperature of deg. Centigrade 4 to 45 deg. and humidity of 100% max. its screen should not be damaged by poking by a pencil's or dot pen's tip.
my best wishes for the early realisation of such an e reader.
regards,
svs iyer.

It's going to be very hard to bump out Amazon's release today of the KINDLE, the fore-runner of which was Sony's E-book reader. I think the Kindle will do very well. Having that with solar power would be great, but actually two AA batteries in Sony's will flip and allow you to read 15,000 pages.

Hello Leon --

Okay, KINDLE looks cute, at $400 . . .

I think I'm getting down to $10 manufacturing cost for the LIGHTBOOK (which, please note, is what my litle beast has just been re-christened. Its Web site should be up by the end of this week).

Cheers, though,

Martin Woodhouse

Hello again,

-- Oh, and it says here, "greyscale only" ?

My children don't need four hundred bucks worth of Wi-fi, they need books with nice pictures in colour they can read without access to batteries, electricity and all that stuff,

--- and which, incidentally, they won't immediately sell for three months' income . . .

Sorry, KINDLE people, I am filled with admiration for a good techno-shot, and all that, but,


. . . well, but still, cheers and love,

(because you're setting up the massively profitable, high-end half of my market, which is something I can't afford to do until some kind -- and commercially-minded -- person showers me with dollar bills in development money)*

* or pound notes, or whatever,

Martin Woodhouse

IMO, the ideal ebook reader should have a screen about the size of a letter-sized book, so that it's good for articles intended for printing out as well as being good for typical novels or paperbacks. Color would also be nice to have, but more importantly, the device should use a photon reflective technology such as e-ink, rather than photon emissive technologies such as what are used in typical LCD computer monitors. This choice would, in addition to being far easier on the eyes to read, would also make very long periods between battery chargings possible, as no power is required to hold a page static, only to change what is on the display. And speaking of not being hard on the eyes, a resolution of at _least_ 200 dpi should also be used so that the appearance of blocky text or graphics does not distract one from the reading of the material. It should be able handle most common computer formats like doc, txt, pdf, cbr/cbz, chm, djvu and many others mentioned by others above, and should have a touch-sensitive display for interacting with it, with which one could optionally use an included stylus for precision if it is required. The device should have a protective hinged cover on one side that folds over and tucks and secures behind it so that having the lid open does not impact the unit's size, which when secured in its closed position keeps the screen safe from accidental damage due to possibly being accidentally dropped or something similar. And since I mentioned the subject of accidentally dropping the unit, ideally, the device should also be water-resistant so that it will not be damaged even if it falls into in a bathtub, for instance, for the numerous people who like to read while they bathe. The device should be able to be expanded with a standard SD card, which it could use as a sort of removable hard drive, and of course if the unit is otherwise water resistant, the cover for the SD slot would likely have to have a rubber rim or something similar to remain water-tight. It should also be possible to upload material to the device from another computer wirelessly, via bluetooth or else a wifi connection.

Personally, I would not ever need an ebook reader to be able to play music, watch videos, or any other things that I could just as easily use a computer for. I want an ebook reader to be as easy on the eyes and easy to use as a book... and to be used only *AS* a book (albeit one with a nice "search" facility, for file formats that are amenable to it). But the most significant advantage of it over a book would be that it takes up *FAR* less space than the hundreds or so of books that could potentially be stored on it at one time, and could be easily carted anywhere one might otherwise want to read... sitting on a bus, reading in the bathroom, relaxing in bed... and so on.

If they can make a unit like what I described above and have it go for less than $300 or so retail, I'd be one of the first ones in line.

Hello, Mark,

I agree thoroughly with around 90% of your suggested specs, around 90% of which (in turn) the Illumination book-reader includes in its design; water- and bash-proofing, 200+ dpi, static e-ink-type screen technology, etc.

[ This is by no means intended as a smart put-down: on the contrary, I am immensely interested in comments such as yours from potential e-readers rather than from computer technologists. ]

Where I'm forced to part company with your eminently sensible specification is in the matter of formats.

If I were considering a book reader for the developed world, I'd accept all of it. But I am not; my primary, if not my only, interest lies in the 'deep' Third World with access either to schools nor electricity. This means no external battery-charging, hence pure 'calculator-style' solar power.

Which in turn means, no Windows. (Doing without which is an excellent notion on other grounds, I may say.)

Which in its turn means: no .pdf, .doc, etc etc. file formatting and no Internet access --- doing without which is also an excellent notion on other grounds; do we really want a child of the jungle or the desert or the slums of Madras deluged with the kind of rubbish --- some of it pernicious --- which dilutes the very few droplets of good sense offered on the Web? I think not, don't you?

============

Windows represents 'Computer-Think'. I am (I believe, WE are) interested only in reading; in getting ideas into minds. Which in turn means, putting stuff expressed in symbols and pictures onto a flat surface, in colour. And that is, as indeed you observe, all.

And which can be done, without Windows, and with file formats far simpler that anything being used now, using a few milliwatts, not watts. And for ten dollars, not anywhere near three hundred.

Cheers (and with thanks again for your attention and views),

Martin

Hi Martin,

Just read your interesting article.

May I know your current update for this?

Do you plan to mass produce this already or something like that?

Since I am coming from Indonesia, there will be a huge market for it.

Looking forward to assist you.

Rgds,
Ian

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