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Education Portables

$99 Moby Tablet As Textbook Alternative 191

Posted by kdawson
from the down-with-rolling-backpacks dept.
Taco Cowboy writes "Marvell's Moby tablet will be an always-on, high performance multimedia tablet capable of full Flash support and 1080p HD playback and supporting WiFi, Bluetooth, FM radio, GPS and both Android and Windows Mobile platforms for maximum flexibility. It could eliminate the need for students to buy and carry bound textbooks and an array of other tools. The tablet is expected to hold a full year's worth of books but weigh less than half of one typical textbook." The tablet is a bit vaporous at this point, but if the final device comes anywhere near these specs and price point, it could be attractive.
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$99 Moby Tablet As Textbook Alternative

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  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:22PM (#31540596)

    How about just letting me load the textbooks onto the laptop I already carry around?

  • by bheer (633842) <rbheer AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:24PM (#31540644)

    The CrunchPad was supposed to be a dead-simple, cheap $200 tablet [wikipedia.org]. Closer to production, it looks like it'll cost more like $500 [thejoojoo.com]. A $99 device would be nice, but I'll believe it when I see it. A decent screen + NAND memory + battery alone will add to the cost.

  • by bornagainpenguin (1209106) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:25PM (#31540658)

    ...all this great looking (and supposedly wonderfully performing) ARM powered vaporware products that either never shows up outside China or retail for ridiculously high prices and so locked in with WinCE nobody wants it?

    Either put up or shut up already! Personally I'd rather they put up than shut up, but either way enough already!

    --bornagainpenguin

  • by sixteenvolt (202302) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:35PM (#31540806) Homepage

    Another kdawson special. The product does not exist. It cannot be purchased. If every claim about what somebody INTENDS to do is news...

  • Wrong problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:36PM (#31540820)

    I don't mind lugging them around. What I mind is paying out ridiculous amounts for a rehash of last year's now worthless book. They sell ebook versions of textbooks; I don't see how this will hamper that (besides eliminating resale markets). What we need is some serious, high quality, free, open source type textbooks. I wouldn't mind paying to have them stamped on dead tree, I like dead tree, it's the BS mark-up that's the problem. This is cool and all, but it would mean a lot more if they could get something good and free/reasonably priced to put in it.

  • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:36PM (#31540832)

    Can't grep a dead tree (or use Ctrl+F)

  • by MoralHazard (447833) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:36PM (#31540842)

    Seriously, you thought the RIAA and MPAA were bad? Hoo boy, you're in for a surprise when you meet the textbook publishers. They aren't even human, they're like... Mind Flayers, or something. Pure evil, and smarter than you think.

    Textbook pubs will never permit mass electronic distribution unless they have mandatory DRM backed by scary laws that the state aggressively enforces. When Congress passes laws authorizing copyright holders and their agents/officials to summarily arrest and imprison suspected copyright violators, without trial or notice, THEN the textbook publishers will decide that they feel confident moving into electronic distribution.

    But one of these days, somebody will start selling cheap, easy-to-make/use automated book scanners (with page turning capabilities). Or maybe they'll put up an Instructable. That'll be the harpoon in the side, for the textbook industry.

  • Re:epaper table (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aristotle-dude (626586) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:44PM (#31540952)

    I would rather use E-Paper, tables are good and all but they are hard on the eyes after a while. http://novelwhore.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/e-paper.jpg [wordpress.com]

    Poor lighting causes eye strain. The reason why people don't get eye strain from e-paper as much is because is "requires" ambient light in order for you to see the screen. Don't use the blacklit display as a replacement for sufficient lighting and your eyes will be fine.

    Stop buying into the hype. Do people work in offices on e-paper displays all day? No. Eye strain does not occur if you take frequent breaks and work in a well lit environment.

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:47PM (#31541000) Journal

    Me too! I had been keeping an eye out for ARM based "smartbooks" etc. for several months. Lots of reference designs, lots of demos at CES. No one ever brought anything decent to retail stores. I heard HP was releasing something in Spain. Lenovo is supposed to be releasing something in the US later this year.

    I wanted something around a $200 price with decent battery life, capable of running Linux. I wanted ARM, too, because I didn't want to buy a machine that came with Windows only to wipe it. After months of waiting, I gave up.

    A few weeks ago I purchased a used Acer Aspire One, along with a high capacity battery. Total price, including shipping and taxes for all items, was less than $200. The machine had originally come with Windows, but was sold without any OS installed. I put Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it, and I'm quite happy with it.

    I'm now out of the market for one of these many rumored ARM-based devices... no one has any decent offerings (and no, the Touchbook is not what I would consider a decent, consumer-oriented offering, and they're not even in stock AFAICT), so I gave up. Also, $99 for this Moby Tablet? Yeah, right. Maybe the bill of materials is $99, but I doubt even that. This thing stinks badly of being vaporware.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:48PM (#31541012) Homepage

    It could eliminate the need for students to buy and carry bound textbooks and an array of other tools.

    Huh? "Carry" is one thing, "buy" is another. It's true that free textbooks exist (see my sig), but they are not yet all that popular in K-12 or colleges. California has a Free Digital Textbook Initiative for high schools, but it has not yet reshaped the landscape; the traditional commercial publishers are essentially sitting it out.

    So I don't see why a cheap tablet would eliminate the need for students to buy textbooks. Publishers are already offering DRM'd electronic textbooks, at about the same price as print textbooks. K-12 schools that are using non-free books will still need to buy books for their kids. College students will still need to buy books.

    Actually, the traditional publishers love DRM'd e-books, because it's a way for them to kill off the used book market. They can use the DRM to prevent you from selling your copy if you don't want it when you're done with the class.

    The books I use in my physics courses at a community college are all free online as DRM-free PDFs. Even so, the vast majority of my students end up buying a printed copy. (I don't receive any royalty from the printed books. They're priced pretty cheap, about the same as photocopying.) Maybe some of them are not going digital because they can't afford a laptop, but I suspect that in most cases, they actually perceive a printed book as more convenient than an electronic one. Reading a book off the screen of a laptop is a pain in the ass. It's much nicer and easier to be able to see two full pages at once, in a large format, and to be able to riffle through pages.

  • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:50PM (#31541048)

    Technology x is old and busted. Technology y is new and exciting. Never mind that technology x can do everything technology y can do. Marketing can't sell technology x anymore, so we'll only support technology y.

  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:02PM (#31541244)
    It's not a matter of having a program that can read ebooks. PDF's work find for that. It's a matter of the textbook publishers A) not releasing digital versions of their books, B) charging ridiculously stupid prices for the books that are digital, and C) usually time limiting the PDF's to 3-6 months.

    The time limit thing is what makes the prices ridiculous. $60 for an ebook that lasts 3 months? For that price I should be getting it forever. If you want to limit it to 3 months, try $10-15.
  • Re:Battery (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <.nomadicworld. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:07PM (#31541308) Homepage
    have a good hiking backpack and like being a social outcast

    Uhhh...what university did you go to where this was true? Sounds like high school.
  • Re:A whole year? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:08PM (#31541322)

    Little more for textbooks. Figures take up space. The programming texts I have in PDF form usually weigh in close to 10 MB. A decent anatomy and physiology text is closer to 100 MB.

    Multiply by eight to twelve courses a year and you're still not talking about much space by today's standards, but you're into not-a-ridiculous-estimate territory, particularly for a $99 device.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:24PM (#31541538)

    I have a PhD and have always read far more on a CRT or backlit LCD than I have on paper, mostly code and papers versus textbooks.

    If you adjust a backlit screen properly and use it in appropriate lighting conditions it's the same as a reflective screen. Reflected photons aren't magic.

  • Re:Or... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by RadioElectric (1060098) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:31PM (#31541642)
    I'm pretty sure you mean to say "Technology y is the new hotness".
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:40PM (#31541770)

    Nothing close to 100% uptime on that, though.

  • by Charbax (678404) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:46PM (#31541864) Homepage
    They need to reach ARM Cortex A9 or good A8 with full hardware acceleration of Google Android for Laptops or Google Chrome OS software and Flash 10 support for full speed web browsing. Once they have that, which is really imminent, they will be selling huge amounts all over the market.
  • Re:Or... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:58PM (#31542006)

    If you want to limit it to 3 months, try $10-15.

    I would say if they want to limit it to 3 months, they're misunderstanding the fundamental purpose of books.

  • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Friday March 19, 2010 @03:35PM (#31542488)
    That's fine for a textbook...I usually end up losing more than $15 when I sell them back after the term is over. I rarely keep them.
  • Re:Or... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2010 @03:38PM (#31542532)

    I intend to use both x and y. The question is why not use data format q that works on x now and can work on y later?

  • Re:It's Awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spazdor (902907) on Friday March 19, 2010 @04:29PM (#31543238)

    You should have watched more Inspector Gadget. That Penny chick had the best textbook.

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