A pretty good idea, but as you say, what's the real price?
If it's dirt cheap, then it might be a cute accessory to ease eyestrain when trying to read ebooks.
German ebook developer txtr has just announced an ultra-cheap, simple e-ink-based ereader, the txtr beagle, which it intends to retail at less than €10. It plans to achieve that price by piggybacking on the functionality already built into a mobile phone. For the moment that phone will have to run Android, but iOS software is …
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I'm not sure I get it. Surely cost-wise the e-ink screen, processor hardware and bluetooth will all add up to roughly as much as the hardware in the average e-ink reader - the only bit it won't need is storage which isn't that expensive, especially the low amounts of it required for books.
And AA batteries supposedly providing a battery life of years which is better than existing e-ink readers? Surely other e-ink readers have similar battery usage profiles to this device, perhaps even less as they don't need an always-on bluetooth connection?
A cheap bluetooth-powered e-ink second screen for a phone is a cool idea, and something I'd probably go for if it worked as advertised, but I can't honestly see how they've done it. Would be interesting to see the unsubsidised price - I'm guessing it's more like 50 Euros than 20.
This article is low on details.
The German press has more details:
The txtr Beagle is not a complete ereader, but mor like an image viewer.
The smartphone will render the ebook and send something probably is nothing more than a bunch of bitmaps to the Beagle. Thus the device can use a smaller and less power consuming CPU.
The claimed battery life still seems exaggerated.
Also due to the pages being pre rendered on the smartphone it seems like you can't change font size, spacing etc. on the fly.
E-ink displays are amazingly power efficient, and if you take out even the text rendering (since the phone is going to do all of that), the biggest power draw is going to be bluetooth, and it will be on standby a lot of the time.
I'm not sure I want a bookreader device, but a satellite screen for a phone is a pretty great thing - I would love to be able to keep my phone in my pocket and use my apps on a simple display unit. It's also less of a target for thieves - if someone grabs the screen I don't even need to remote wipe my phone - I just activate the built-in taser that drains the whole display battery in one shot...
"The smartphone will render the ebook and send something probably is nothing more than a bunch of bitmaps to the Beagle. Thus the device can use a smaller and less power consuming CPU."
Which explains why you can only put a max of 5 books on it at a time, despite having 4GB of memory. As far as the battery life being overstated, just remember you are only allowed to read a book per month if you want to keep it from running down too quickly.
It definetely sounds like a candidate for hacking with the Raspberry Pi, arduino or goodness knows what else. At that price (or even double it) it allows for a whole new range of low power devices with screens. With battery life being quoted as that long and a price that cheap it almost certainly a very simple controller circuit in it which means the interfacing is likely to be very simple and therefore easy to replicate.
It'd probably be best to use rechargeable AAA batteries with it as, in my experience, your standard Duracells leak after a couple of months/years, which will render the eReader as useless as any other with a dead, non-replaceable, rechargeable battery.
Otherwise, it looks quite a cute, useful, basic reader.
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Why would a normal battery be more prone to leakage than a rechargable chappie?
If I think of all the remote controls I've had, I've never once had a leak. They tend to keep their batteries for multiple years, and I'm not putting ever-so-f*cking-expensive rechargables into something like that.
"For the moment that phone will have to run Android"
Seriously - after that article the other day saying that developers (a) claim they are mostly motivated by the size of the installed userbase, and (b) yet bizarrely they choose iphone, it's a refreshing change that someone caters to the *actual* number one selling platform for a change.
I really don't get the spin in the article, and the sub-heading, that it's bad to "only" support Android, which has near 70% share. I'm more concerned at all those companies only catering for the ~15-20% of iphone users.
Sure cross-platform is nice - but then, what about all the other platforms, not just iphone? And the biggest non-Android chunk of the market is actually those "feature" phones, e.g., Nokia's S40, that don't get counted in the market stats, despite being smartphones that run apps etc.
> Seriously - after that article the other day saying that developers (a) claim they are mostly motivated by the size of the installed userbase, and (b) yet bizarrely they choose iphone,
You misread that article at the time and certainly failed to understand it. The developers stated that "*A* large userbase was required", they did not say 'the largest userbase' that you mistakenly think that it said.
Android has '*A* large userbase'. Apple has '*A* large userbase'. Most others do not.
> it's a refreshing change that someone caters to the *actual* number one selling platform for a change.
This product is not 'catering to the actual number one platform' it is catering to the platform that it can access. It is likely that, for the purposes it needs, iOS is too closed.
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on my phone sapping the batteries I'd love one of these and would possibly buy two in case I lost one!
If it's waterpoof (or easy to waterproof) I'd love it as so wanted to sit in jacuzzi/pool reading but wasn't going to take expensive smartphone in there!
Is there a pre order page around?
Only five books is a major problem. On my Nokia N9 I have pretty much all of Sherlock Holmes, the BASH Beginners Guide, On Lisp, Alice in Wonderland, The Origin of Species, loads of Wodehouse, Frederick Pohl, Montaigne, Dante's Divine Comedy, Treasure Island, etc., etc. It gives me something for every occasion.
Can't see it working out unless they have some magical way of getting the hardware cost down so that the 10EUR is actually a substantial fraction of the cost.
Plus it only has a five inch screen so I don't see that it is enough better than the 3,9 inch N9 to warrant carrying another device.
Some people are saying you need your phone on for this to work, others are saying it only holds 5 books...
Surely you buy/download the book to your phone, it renders it into a simple display format and chucks that on to the device.
Because the display format is simple it is big so only 5 books but you don't need the phone to read those 5.
Once you've finished a book you use the phone to delete it from the device & add another.
Why "five books" why not "2000 pages"? Surely it depends on the size of the book??
Why 1 year, why not "5000" pages? I guess standby, bluetooth, display time all make battery life a complex issue.
txtr states in its press release the beagle supports "[a]ll files supported by the smartphone or PC host application (e.g. epub, pdf)" though in the system requirements bullet point on its product web page that getting "more books from user's library requires (1) pairing via Bluetooth of smartphone (2) txtr Android app with beagle support." Which way are they going with this?
Even while I grapple with the "what's the point?" questions about the device as a whole, my real concern is the small size. My S3's screen is almost as big as the screen on this device, why go through all the hassle of an extra device and the battery drain on my cellphone from another connection, just for a tiny increase in screen size? Yes, it's e-ink and that's MUCH better for reading on, but I have a 6-inch e-ink device available to me, so I don't see what niche this new device is trying to fill.
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