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Handhelds Hardware

I Want a Kindle Killer 321

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the newton-rises-from-the-grave dept.
lpress (707742) writes "Amazon's Kindle is a good e-reader and they've sold around 40 million units, but it is far from perfect. It could be significantly improved with speech recognition for commands and text entry, a well-designed database for marginal notes and annotations, and integration with laptop and desktop computers. Google, Apple and Microsoft all have device design and manufacturing experience as well as stores that sell books and other written material. A Kindle-killing e-reader would be low-hanging fruit for Apple, Google or Microsoft — think of the competition if they each built one!" Handwriting as an input method would be nice too; a friend in college had one of the experimental Windows XP tablet PCs, and it was great for note taking and document annotation.
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I Want a Kindle Killer

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  • by spiritplumber (1944222) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @09:51AM (#47108645) Homepage
    great battery life, runs Android and is easy to root so you can do other stuff with it... I'd have added a keyboard on the back, for typing with fingers while holding it. Why not just make more of that?
    • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:08AM (#47108915)
      you can type backwards on a keyboard that faces away from you? hardcore, man.
    • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:09AM (#47108917)
      Hell, I don't think that there's anything wrong with the Kindle. When I'm looking to relax at the end of the night, I don't want a multitasker. My Kindle does one thing and one thing only, it lets me read my novels and keeps them synced with my Windows 8 (shudder) tablet at work for when I get bored at lunch. If I want to make annotations, read comics or tech books, I reach for my Nexus 7. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it with a Nook and use MoonReader+ to keep everything synced. If Kindle weren't first to market with the Paperwhite, I'm sure I'd be a happy Nook owner now.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        I have a kindle but almost never use it. I tend to read on my nexus7 for books and Nexus 10 for magazines and comics.

      • by spd_rcr (537511) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:35AM (#47109301) Homepage

        The "paperwhite" backlighting on the latest Kindles is killer. I checked out the latest Nooks and they just aren't up to par as far as an even backlight is concerned.

        The only multi-tasking ability I wish they would add (back) to the Kindle is the MP3 player/audio. I hate having to use a second device to listen to music while I'm reading and I miss the option of having an audio-book play while I'm cooking or such.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Agreed, I want a paperwhite with the back/forward physical buttons. And that's all.

          • by nospam007 (722110) *

            "Agreed, I want a paperwhite with the back/forward physical buttons. And that's all."

            I second that. Also the screen should differentiate between a fly and my finger.

    • by taxman_10m (41083)

      I don't care for your keyboard idea, but yes about the rooted Nook. I'm not sure why no one came out with a full fledged android device with an eink screen. If you are mostly reading emails, reading internet articles, reading twitter, etc, it works great and is very functional.

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      I recently popped Cyanogenmod 11 [xda-developers.com] (KitKat ROM) [cyanogenmod.org] on my Nook Color and use it as a remote control for my Chromecast. It's amazing the utility in a device that isn't locked down with hardware that isn't black boxed. I must say when it was originally announced that KitKat was optimized to make slower systems perform better I was skeptical but it is noticeably faster and consumes less battery than any version I have ever used.
    • by mu51c10rd (187182)

      Same here...I am/was a happy Nook owner. Shame the line has ended...the Nook could read about any format you threw at it, had fantastic hardware specs (including a microsd card reader), and could be rooted if you needed all the fancy apps the submitter is mentioning. No idea how the Kindle destoryed the Nook market when you can take both devices side by side and find the Nook to be quite better (in specs and functionality).

      • No idea how the Kindle destoryed the Nook market when you can take both devices side by side and find the Nook to be quite better (in specs and functionality).

        The Kindle's lower up-front cost and much longer battery life had a lot to do with it.

        But don't discount the way the cheap android pads & phones and the expensive Apple equivalents also cut into the Nook's demographic niche.

        The Google Nexus 7 sitting next to me has SIX e-reader applications installed, including Nook and Kindle and FBreader apps.

      • by Shadowmist (57488)

        No idea how the Kindle destoryed the Nook market when you can take both devices side by side and find the Nook to be quite better (in specs and functionality).

        Because the original non-Android Kindle was the best book reader in the pack. It still is because it doesn't try to be anything else. It doesn't have the overhead of a large operating system, a color display, the infrastructure to run a bunch of applications that have nothing to do with book reading. And you didn't have to worry about charging it on a daily basis because it just sipped it's battery, not drank it like a man dying of thirst. It was just a plain effective book reader that magically rece

  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @09:51AM (#47108655)
    "had one of the experimental Windows XP tablet PCs" Not experimental. They were all pen input devices and worked very well. Just ask Fujitsu and a bunch of others.
    • Carried one for several years when I was a network tech at a local college; aside from the decidedly chincy (sp?) rotating hinge for the screen, I absolutely loved using that thing.

      Pretty sure it was an IBM Thinkpad variant.

    • by Paco103 (758133)

      I had one. Loved the thing. I could type my notes in classes that lended themselves to that, and then flip it over and hand write notes and homework for other subjects, like physics and math. The reason for poor sales was likely due to price vs benefit. For a lot of people touch input is only useful in front of the TV, and for that $1500 is a lot of money for anything without an apple logo. Mine was a Toshiba Satellite, and I finally replaced it last month with a ThinkPad Yoga, because I really did not

    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      My friend had a Gateway XP tablet PC. Not bad for browsing the web but not that great for much else unless you hooked a keyboard and mouse to it. It was single touch and if you used your fingers to try and press the tiny maximize button on a window, you may accidentally close it. So the sylus was a must, if you didn't loose it.

      If it had multitouch, pinch zoom, and gestures to manipulate windows then it might have been better. Its on screen keyboard was also a disaster and typing URL's was painful. But I wil

  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @09:55AM (#47108717)

    They're called "hammers."

  • it's a **copyright problem**

    that's it...we have plenty of digitalia of all shapes, sizes, and makes to display the text

    most use programs called "apps"

    all are subject to backwards-minded legal copyright holders who misuse artificial scarcity

    • by Obfuscant (592200)
      I'm sorry, but did you even read past the word "Kindle"? How is a lack of voice input and good note-taking software a "copyright issue"? Where is the "artificial scarcity" imposed by "copyright holders" here? You think a book author or publisher can control what other applications are on your notebook or tablet device?

      So, the answer to the "Kindle Killer" question is -- use a real tablet, not a book reader. They all have book reader apps and interface with desktops just fine. I don't use voice input becau

      • I don't use voice input because I don't choose to announce to everyone within earshot what I am doing..

        I am skeptical that the larger market cares about voice control at all. I like it for hands free phone dialing in the car, but that is about it. Its definitely important for those with disabilities, but otherwise voice control still seems more "gimmicky" than it is useful.

        • That's my impression of the voice control in those Kindle TV ads with "Find Gary Busey." If we had that in my house, I know just what would happen. My kids would get into a shouting match:

          Kid 1: "Play Show A"
          Kid 2: "No, Play Show B!"
          Kid 1: "Play Show A!!!"
          Kid 2: "PLAY SHOW B!!!"
          Me: "TV, TURN OFF!!!"

          Then again, perhaps that last voice control part could be useful. (Recognize the parents' voice and then ignore the kids.) Still, I think we'll stick with plain, old remote controls.

      • most smartphones & tablets have voice input

        so...what was your point again?

        if someone wanted voice input & note taking *AND* an 'e-reader'....you can easily envision an app that does exactly that

        your 'e-reader' app wouldn't have any books in it though, would it?

        the listed features are **already available** on most digitalia I refered to

        maybe you should think more about what an 'e-reader' really does

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          so...what was your point again?

          Pretty simple question. You claimed that copyright issues had something to do with a lack of voice input and note taking applications that the article asked about. I asked you what the hell you were talking about.

          your 'e-reader' app wouldn't have any books in it though, would it?

          I don't know what the hell you are talking about, and I don't think you do, either. All of my "e-reader apps" have plenty of books "in them".

          maybe you should think more about what an 'e-reader' really does

          I know what an "e-reader" does. I also know that copyright problems have nothing to do with what other apps are on the device I use to "e-read".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How many features do you want to add to this before you kill it completely?

  • what he wants is everything and cheap, will not happen if it is not supported as kindle is by amazon that can sell it cheap because it lacks all those above
    • There are some cheap things that could be added but were, IMHO, cynically left off for marketing reasons. For example, an SDCard port.
      • by Richy_T (111409)

        I was kind-of annoyed that they left that off but truly, I don't really miss it.

        Of course, they also dropped the audio option from their newer e-ink readers so it's not like you'll be loading them up with large media anyway (and the media player was a joke anyway)

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rjstanford (69735) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @09:56AM (#47108747) Homepage Journal

    I believe that the Kindle is an excellent device primarily because it does one thing - its an eReader. I don't normally write all over my paper books and have no desire to do so on the Kindle either. Far from a luddite, I've got a ton of technology devices, but sometimes simple task-focussed pieces are better. My paperwhite is easy on the eyes, the battery lasts for a long time, its very lightweight, and I never have to troubleshoot it or wonder why its various components aren't playing well with each other.

    Not every device needs to expand its footprint until all are equal. Want to read on a Fire or an iPad? Feel free. Don't try to turn the regular Kindle into a poor version of one of those.

    • What I got from this.
      I want a supercomputer, that is small and lightweight, full of every sort of sensors and inputs, has excellent battery life, and needs to be priced very cheaply.

      In short, I don't realize I live in a world where you can get everything for nothing, and you need to make tradeoffs in life.

    • by nabsltd (1313397)

      I believe that the Kindle is an excellent device primarily because it does one thing - its an eReader.

      If it supported ePub natively, the Kindle would be a real eReader.

      In reality, it's a device for consuming Amazon content.

    • by arielCo (995647)

      "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said 'faster horses'"
      -- Henry Ford (unsourced)

      You don't write on books because it's permanent and possibly damaging; Post-Its caught on as a way to work around that.

      The (e-ink) Kindle solves the speed+versatility vs power+weight compromise by specializing in a task that requires little of the first two. Arguably, virtual Post-Its don't require a change to that compromise; a better, more interoperable implementation doesn't cost extra.

      PC integration? Sure, just sync in a simple, flexible way (i.e., not iTunes) to a PC/Mac app or to your account through

  • by carnivore302 (708545) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @09:57AM (#47108765) Journal
    Why would I want speech recognition from a book? Or handwriting as input method?

    The only thing I would want them to improve on the kindle is the speech output.
    • by afidel (530433)

      I think that's for the note takers, either for book clubs or for electronic textbooks.

  • by xtal (49134) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @09:59AM (#47108783)

    All I want is a paper replacement.

    There are large e-ink displays, but they all lack high resolution input - as high as a 0.5mm pencil can get you.

    15 years after I graduated, I still carry engineering paper, and I get it from the same bookstore. All that's changed is I take pictures of my notes instead of scan them now.

    Come on Apple - want to innovate? Figure that one out. I triple dog dare you.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      All I want is a paper replacement.

      There are large e-ink displays, but they all lack high resolution input - as high as a 0.5mm pencil can get you.

      15 years after I graduated, I still carry engineering paper, and I get it from the same bookstore. All that's changed is I take pictures of my notes instead of scan them now.

      Come on Apple - want to innovate? Figure that one out. I triple dog dare you.

      Problem is, Apple was just given the smackdown by the DoJ.

      No doubt they're not going to be pursuing anything that i

    • This. And I'd like said Kindle replacement to have a large color e-ink display. There's plenty of demand for a reader with a static display and a week long battery life. Apple, if you're listening, 8-12 hours is not good enough.
  • Dead wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skaag (206358) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:01AM (#47108807) Homepage Journal

    While your suggestions speak to my inner geek, I think if Amazon does add those features they will kill the kindle.

    That product sold 40 million because it does NOT have those features. It is already far more convenient than using a paperback, looks bright enough to read even in low light conditions, and can hold tons of books. For those 40 million people who bought a Kindle, that's more than enough. Add more features and you'll make the product cumbersome, suddenly it needs more processing power, suddenly battery life sucks...

    No, I say the Kindle should remain as it is, and this simplicity is its strength.

  • by AuMatar (183847) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:01AM (#47108811)

    I have a kindle. I don't want it to be anything other than a book replacement. I don't want to input text, annotations (in fact I think ebooks are horrible for anything you would annotate, like a textbook- you need to be able to flip through those), or anything else. I care only about ease of reading the text and battery life (where it excels). If I wanted a tablet, I'd get a tablet.

    About the only thing I'd want changed is faster page loading times and better tools for organizing books (list of authors and series, for example) that I've bought.

    • I agree.

      One thing I do NOT want is a touch screen. I don't want my screen to be covered in fingerprints.

      One thing I would like is the ability to have a (wired) remote page turn button - so when I'm reading in bed I don't have to move my hands from a comfortable position to turn the page.

  • I Fail to See ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ilparatzo (3627897) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:01AM (#47108821)
    I fail to see how the "features" discussed would make for a Kindle Killer. They sound like features that would cater to a niche of the population but little more than that. A Kindle Killer would need to find some sort of feature that when added to a book, makes it amazingly better. Not to mention, you've got to be able to do it for a price that makes it worthwhile.

    If note taking in books was such a massively popular thing, we'd see more books with large margins for doing just that. Reading is a largely relaxing activity ... talking to your book to get it to do anything isn't likely to improve that.

    What is being described here is more of a "goto E-reader" for research and/or students. Those aren't features I need when reading the latest novel. The notes or highlights I do take are minimal enough that I don't need anything too special, and certainly nothing that makes this the central aspect of my E-reader. Amazon did a pretty good job of understanding that people (the majority of readers at least) didn't want or need a ton of bells and whistles out of an e-reader. They needed something as similar to a book as possible. The book has been around for centuries and done a pretty good job, after all.
  • What the OP suggests would probably be doable with existing hardware. This is more of an iOS/Android update than designing a new device from scratch.

    IMHO, everyone wants something different in an e-Reader. For example, some want a tablet with a Nook app. Others want an e-Ink device that is easy on the eyes that can be held in one hand like a paperback and has a simple, efficient, no-frills UI.

    I'd like a rev of e-Ink devices myself. We have plenty of media-playing items, and if one wants to run apps and

  • Extra storage via microSDxc
    HDMI out
    some other way of charging besides microUSB (although it could still use microUSB for connecting to other devices. )
    miniUSB is way more reliable for charging, the microUSB cables just fall out if you breathe.

    And something all android tabs need - a Hard Reset Button for when it locks up, and you have to wait for the battery to go flat before you can use it again.

    Disclaimer: I have a Fire HDX 8.9" and I am generally happy with it apart from mentione

    • by Tukz (664339)

      I don't recognize your problem with the microUSB kabel falling out.
      Occasionally I hang mine (Kindle Paperwhite 2) in the charging cable at work, and it haven't fallen out yet.

      And doesn't most tablets support "holding down the power button" for hard reset, much like a power button on PC does?
      Both my iPad and Nexus does.

  • They have those. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:11AM (#47108959) Homepage

    They're called tablets. :-P

  • by Moskit (32486) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:15AM (#47109027)

    Ebook readers (the real ones based on e-ink) are good as they are. The less features the better, bookmarks and integration with vocabularies are enough for reading through a book.

    If you need fancy stuff - get a tablet, it has features that you mentioned and much more.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:16AM (#47109031)
    Buck and Gerber make great knives. Far better than anything gillette has ever put out. So why don't they make a really great disposable razor so that they can corner the market?

    Everyone rampaged around looking for an iPod killer and we never got one, until apple made the iphone, and popularized the convergence that everyone else had been trying to popularize in smartphones for years.

    Samsung tried to make an iPhone killer, but could never really be successful without the true killer: Google Play/Android Marketplace

    The iPod wasn't "the thing," iTunes was.
    The Gillette Razor handle isn't "the thing" the cartridges are
    The kindle isn't "the thing" the bookstore is.

    Trying to beat the kindle with better hardware is completely missing the point. Even more so with the fact that Kindle has an app for most devices that lets you read stuff you buy from Amazon anyway (and vice versa).
    The kindle is king because nobody (yes I am counting barnes and noble as "nobody") has any reason whatsoever to compete with it.
  • Because there is not much of a market for $400 e-reader.
  • My problem with the Kindle Touch that changing pages frequently invokes some unwanted function. It is infuriating to change page and get the Change Font, or Annotate, or Save Clipping dialogs. I understand that some users like these functions. I don't, I hate them. I wish I could switch them off.

  • Seriously. The current Kindle does one job - reading long texts for leisure - really, really well, and is pretty much crap at anything else.

    The e-ink display is very restful to read for long periods, even in bright sunlight and gives incredible battery life, but at the expense of a glacial refresh rate and the need for pixels to be regularly cycled to black. Its no good whatsoever for the sort of fluid touch interface that you'll see in a 'proper' tablet or smartphone.

    The Kindle is my go-to device for 'si

  • This is slashdot, damnit.

  • Amazon has never told anyone how many kindles they've sold. Where did that 40 million number come from?

  • by sootman (158191) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:30AM (#47109255) Homepage Journal

    They're called "tablets" and "tablet PCs".

    What, you think handwriting recognition and voice recognition are cheap? That they're no-consequence modules that can be simply bolted on to another device that somehow, magically, doesn't impact cost, performance, battery life, or complexity of use? And that adding handwriting recognition to the e-reader app itself is easy? LOL. "Low-hanging fruit?" Hardly.

    Do you REALLY think OEMs want to make yet ANOTHER class of device that fits between tablet computers and dedicated e-readers? How large do you think the market is for a device that does more than an e-reader and less than a tablet? It's already a pretty compact market space with razor-thin margins. The low-end for tablets (7"+) that aren't complete junk is about $99 and the high-end is $299. (8" iPad mini) Low-end tablet PC laptops start around there. (As will the Surface, on clearance, soon. :D ) Super-cheap tablets and dedicated e-readers go down to about $59. Don't look for another product category -- especially not one with such limited appeal -- to be squeezed into this narrow range any time soon.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:35AM (#47109299) Homepage
    It's a book reader, only two things matter: screen quality and the ease of getting books on it.

    I would've included battery life, but that's been a solved issue with the Kindle from the beginning.

    None of the "killer" features listed would do a damn to improve the reading experience, and some of them would be very annoying. Didn't the whole Siri debacle finally demonstrate that no one wants to yell at their devices?
  • I refer to it as an iPad

  • First, I concur, I don't understand how something like this actually makes the news page.

    Second, it sounds like they want an iPad, not a Kindle.

    The poster misses the entire point of Kindle, and why it's done so well - it's for people that mainly want to read books. They added Fire to the lineup for folks that want to consume other media, as well. But there is no reason for it to have something like voice control - since it's mainly a book reading device, do you really need voice control to tell it to wh

  • The EARL is pretty close an android with an eink display that lights up. So you can read a book on a good display and have the OS and processor to do pretty much everything but gaming and watching videos.

  • I would like to *easily* print pages from a kindle ebook.

  • No... you're not the target audience. The kindle is perfect for what it was designed to do which is sell you books. It's incredibly easy to search for, find and read books on the device. All the additional features you're talking about would get in the way of those core functions. I have 3 kindles, and I spend the majority of my time in each of them actually reading. (who'd have thunk?) The touch capable ones are super annoying because... well... touching the screen does stuff... and while reading a 2000+ p

  • I have one of the older e-Ink, Wi-Fi only Kindles. Still has a physical keyboard, which I rarely use. My wife has the ad-supported one with no keyboard, and she doesn't seem to miss it.

    The old e-ink kindle is great. I love it. They nailed the user scenario for me -- it is actually _better_ than a physical book. I can use it anywhere I'd use a physical book, I rarely worry about battery life. It's easier to read than a real book when laying on my side in bed.

    I am completely uninterested in a color e-re

  • I've owned several e-readers, and I love them for what they are -- a book replacement. For me it's all about having a high contrast, readable screen with excellent battery life, and e-ink instead of any kind of light-emitting display. I've used one each of a Sony, Kindle, and Kobo.

    In every case, I've loved the hardware, but the software drives me insane.

    Mostly I want all my reader software to talk to Calibre (or some other central database) to sync the last page read, keep notes on which books I've read a

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