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Education Portables

$99 Moby Tablet As Textbook Alternative 191

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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  • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:30PM (#31540736) Journal

    Agreed. It does look nice, but the best TFA could muster is a prototype device that may or may not even be this machine. Still might be worth it at a couple of hundred, though - I'll have to wait and see.

    I do think the textbook focus in the press release seems odd, too. We passed the point where a laptop became lighter than a textbook back with the first round of netbooks. Textbooks, of all things, are fine for reading on a normal screen. You generally need them for quick reference when you're at a desk - the traditional e-reader advantages fall here. If anything I'd have though they'd be pushing these things as web pads/multimedia devices.

  • Re:Good deal! (Score:3, Informative)

    by marcansoft ( 727665 ) <<moc.tfosnacram> <ta> <rotceh>> on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:34PM (#31540794) Homepage

    Optimus Maximus isn't vapourware these days, it's just unaffordableware.

  • Re:Or... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bughunter ( 10093 ) <> on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:36PM (#31540822) Journal

    You may be getting your wish. []

    Or perhaps it's been available for a while. []

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:42PM (#31540922) Journal
    I would be a touch surprised, and impressed, to see the case, battery, screen, wifi, etc. come in for less than $100.

    However, the joojoo thing is almost certainly a bad comparison. That hardware is a full Atom based x86, with Nvidia graphics(since ion was terminated by Pine Trail, presumably Ion2, which is a full discrete GPU, albeit a rather weak one). Since Marvell is pushing this thing, and Marvell makes ARM SoCs of various flavors, it'll almost definitely be cheaper(as well as somewhat weaker) than the intel+discrete GPU equivalent.

    Perhaps the more valid comparison, and not a wildly hopeful one, is Marvell's Shivaplug, which is the headless, batteryless, designed for small scale embedded server use version of their ARM platform. Quantity one, that goes for $100 without screen or battery. For quantity LOTS, I'd assume that it would be somewhat cheaper; but $99 for a similar board, plus the usual mobile device trimmings would be a fair feat.
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:54PM (#31541124)
    Depends on the grade you're looking to get. In many courses, if you're looking for an A, you're probably going to need to read substantial portions of the textbook. Reading the same book for two or three hours in a single session is certainly not rare, and that can cause considerable eye strain on a normal screen.
  • by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:21PM (#31541496)

    Nice buzzword usage, but see, I actually WORK at a University Press, and we make textbooks. And we're doing pdfs for the majority of our ebooks.

    The *real* reason that textbook publishers don't make more ebooks is much less sinister:

    There's no universal standard for ebooks. It costs money to get something converted to a format and checked for errors, and you don't want to fragment your efforts too much, so out of the several dozen implementations of ebook formats, you pick one or two, then you pick which version of THAT you want to support, and you try and learn about them. And since it takes two years or more just to make a textbook, by the time you've got a format learned sufficiently to get it in to your workflow, you've still got a two year lag before books start showing up in that format.

    But oh hey! In the meantime, the standard shifted. So you're back to trying to learn the standard and get that merged in to your workflow. You think the RIAA and MPAA handled the change in the technology of their field badly? Books have been printed basically the same for centuries, not decades. Since the printing press, there's not been many advances that effect publishing. The offset printing press, and use of computers to do layout and editing. No, seriously, that's about it. Books are long enough that few people wanted to have to sit and stare at a screen for hours on end, so they never had to worry about digital distribution until laptops became common, and even then, people still didn't want to read things hundreds of pages long on a screen. It's only been in about the last 10 years or so that it's even been mentioned, and it wasn't anything close to a viable idea until the kindle came out in 2007. And remember what I said about textbooks taking at least 2 years to get through the publishing process?

    No, you'll start seeing textbooks for e-readers when the formats are more stable. Until then, you'll get most publishers playing it safe and not wasting their cash on converting.

  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

    by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:36PM (#31541706) Journal

    Wow... a slashdot geek should really read about technology y before commenting, but hey, few of us RTFA, right? Check out the Pixel Qi display []. Also check out the Nvidia Tegra processor []. This is the year of the tablet/slate, or whatever you want to call them. They're a new class of $100 - $200 ebook readers that blow away anything we've seen to date, assuming you like to read. They are easier on the eyes than Kindles, yet able to run real OSes, even Ubuntu UNR. With their ARM processors, and awesome integrated graphics, they use a small fraction of the power of any Intel based system, and at a fraction of the cost. The killer application will be e-book readers, in a "convergence" device that also let's us watch color youtube videos, run Firefox, write e-mails, and all of that on a nice 10" multi-touch display that blows doors on any phone or e-ink display. We'll buy them because they're cheaper and better than a Kindle for reading e-books, yet nearly as useful as a netbook for getting work done. Many of these devices will ship with detachable keyboards, making them true netbooks when used that way. Battery life in e-book mode will be in days, not hours.

    So, feel free to enjoy your technology x. I'm really looking forward to y.

  • Re:Battery (Score:5, Informative)

    by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:39PM (#31541750)

    Agreed. At uni the social outcasts have bags they drag about on rollers... :)

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

    by magarity ( 164372 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:44PM (#31541836)

    It's not awesome at all that some electronic widget can do all those things. What's awesome must be the textbook it's replacing! When I was in school I never had a textbook that did WiFi, 1080 HD, Flash, GPS, etc, etc, etc. Mine were all just paper with non-moving print on the pages.

  • by Charbax ( 678404 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:53PM (#31541940) Homepage
    Check the link, there is a picture of a working prototype at 10" and even a video of a working prototype with a 4.3" screen.
  • by Charbax ( 678404 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @03:09PM (#31542180) Homepage
    Pixel Qi is now being mass produced. And in this ARM Powered tablet, the screen is the largest cost of the device.
  • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @03:14PM (#31542252) Journal

    Check out Pixel Qi on youtube. Better sunlight readability than e-ink, cheaper, larger displays, and with the backlight on, you can watch video in color. With backlight off (e-ink mode), you battery can last days, not hours. Still, not weeks like some e-ink products, but getting there. So, I 100% agree with you. I don't want an iPad. I want something like the Notion Ink Adam [].

  • by MollyB ( 162595 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @03:52PM (#31542716) Journal

    I'm not a regular commenter

    Do you mean you don't have an account and always post AC? Out of luck if so, but if you log in, go to Help/Preferences, choose Authors from the menu and uncheck any editor whose articles you no longer want to see.

    I'm definitely not new here, and it amuses me that so many people get worked up over the editor's handiwork. I read the articles for the comments. Many thoughtful conversations emerge from seemingly trivial subjects, so maybe just try to enjoy the stream of prose that sometimes informs, entertains, reeks, or makes you laugh? Or go on to the next item. Spring is here, maybe take a walk in the sunshine. :^)

  • Re:Or... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mbourgon ( 186257 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:42PM (#31545060) Homepage

    The least expensive part of a book is the PP&B (print, paper & binding - aka the physical book). On my $65 chem book, the PP&B was 3.65. The wholesale price was $47. There are ways to lower the price - if there's no secondary market (aka used), that's fewer lost sales to worry about. Skipping the bookstores is another potential savings. Replacing some of the teacher tools with online resources (aka no more transparencies) - lowers but doesn't eliminate a cost. Theoretically, time-based DRM would allow you to get it for a semester... but remember that fixed costs remain.

    Whether the publishers will see that as an opportunity to drop the prices or not - that's another question.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin