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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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  • Battery (Score:3, Interesting)

    by syousef ( 465911 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:01PM (#31541240) Journal

    The main problem is that you either have to provide students with power outlets, or the batteries have to be able to perform in the real world for around 8-12 hours.

    I would have loved to have had such an option when I was in Uni. You had two choices. Either carry the textbook as you were told in which case you'd better have a good hiking backpack and like being a social outcast, or don't carry them and do your homework/reading at home. Most students chose the later.

    I did my Masters online and never had to carry a book. It was a much better experience in that respect.

  • by b0bby ( 201198 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:04PM (#31541268)

    SheevaPlug is $99 with no screen or battery. A tablet at that price would be really something.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:29PM (#31541602)

    Have you looked at the ebook category on the Pirate Bay recently? It's not "it could be done very quickly," it IS done.

    It's tough to find THE textbook you need because there are so many. It's not hard at all to find A textbook on a given subject.

  • I used Pixel Qi (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charbax ( 678404 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:52PM (#31541918) Homepage
    It's as good as e-ink for reading. Check my video: [] I tested it only for a few minutes though, I didn't actually read much on it, just had time to check it out outdoors and indoors at Computex 2009 and at CES 2010 as I was filming those Pixel Qi videos. It's very very readable and the whole 10" screen currently uses less than 500 milliwatts which means potentially reaching 50 hours battery runtime using an ARM processor to turn e-book pages on a 3-cell netbook-sized battery.
  • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:56PM (#31541992) Journal

    You make a decent point. The Nvidia Tegra processor, QualCom Snapdragon, and TI something-or-other, are all fine ARM processors for multi-touch slates, yet no respectable manufacturer (I'm not including Apple as "respectable"), has even announced a device based on this.

    My brother-in-law works at Dell, and while he may take issue with how I paraphrase him, what I heard was "Dell doesn't innovate. Instead, we wait for others to prove the market first, and then crush them with our manufacturing capabilities." The big players, like Dell and HP, are waiting for the equivalent of the Asus EEE PC in the ARM based tablet/slate space. Once an off-brand has dominated the market, they'll follow like lemmings. In the meantime, early adopters will need to buy products like "Notion Ink Atom" from some random group of entrepreneurial Indians, or this Marvell thingy. Honestly, I think the big players look to Apple for innovation. MacBook Air? How about a nice Dell netbook for 1/4 the price? iPad? How about a Dell slate for $150? At least we have that great A-hole Steve Jobs to help our corporations find their way...

  • by Charbax ( 678404 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @03:07PM (#31542162) Homepage
    The Pixel Qi screen is designed to cost about the same as a regular LCD screen, especially once mass produced by the millions. And Pixel Qi is confirming that their technology is not being mass produced by LCD manufacturers without them having had to change anything in the LCD factories, thus as soon as the orders for millions of these screens comes in, I think you could find a 10" Pixel Qi with a Bill of Material below $60 including the capacitive touch screen.
  • Re:epaper table (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Buelldozer ( 713671 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @03:40PM (#31542568)

    No my eyes can't tell the difference between a reflected and emitted photon. They can however tell the difference between a static image and one that's refreshing 60 to 75 time per second.

    Eyes are funny and very personal things. At 38 I don't wear glasses, I have an annual eye checkup and I don't need them but I do have some particular quirks with my vision. For instance the refresh rates of an LCD flat panel gives me headaches after sufficient time and I can't read in a car without getting motion sick. On the upside my night vision is so superior that few believe it. Not only can I see in lower light conditions but my eyes can go from strong light to see in the dark in about 90 seconds flat. Most people take upwards of 5 minutes for this transition and some people take 20. My depth perception is also better than average, however I have real issues with strong sunlight. I pretty much have to wear quality sunglasses when I go outside and this seems to be getting worse as I get older.

    Your eyes are likely at better at some other things, maybe you've got less sensitivity to refresh rate for instance. Perhaps you can focus to a finer detail than I can or maybe you have more "zoom" than I do. Who knows?

    What I do know is that to casually dismiss how someone else's body works is incorrect. For me an e-paper display is much better for long reading sessions than any monitor I have ever come across, no matter how much I fiddle with it's settings.

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @04:01PM (#31542834) Homepage

    The software is the key, and the software for reference and text books is just not there.

    I have a Kindle 2 and it is nice for fiction books. Trying to get it to display multiple fonts (computer reference book), mathematical formulas (other reference books), tables of tiny little numbers (chemistry and physical science reference books) or just about anything else in the "reference" book field would be pointless - it isn't suitable for that at all.

    Making the screen bigger might help, but not all the way. The problem is that today there is no "reader" application that does a good job in locating information using anything other than a string search. If the book has an index, it isn't being used effectively and it is not displayed in a good way. Until this is fixed, the reference book market is pretty much closed for any sort of computer-based display.

    Text books are going to suffer from the same problems. Worse, because there aren't convenient ways to handle things like tabbing, trying to "flip" through a book isn't possible.

    It is a chicken-and-egg problem - nobody is going to come up with great textbooks for an e-book reader until there is an e-book reader with software to deal with it well. And nobody is going to bother with the software until there is a market - which there can't be without the books.

    Amazon and Sony decided to address the problem by making the reader and bludgening the publishers. At least Amazon was able to get some publishers attention and there are a lot of new books being released for the Kindle. The textbook market is much, much smaller and the revenues are certainly a lot lower. So it is doubtful that a textbook publisher is going to sponsor an e-book reader with a new book format designed specifically for textbooks. And without that, it is doomed to fail - PDF is an awful format for textbooks and reference books.

  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dunng808 ( 448849 ) <> on Friday March 19, 2010 @07:41PM (#31545640) Journal

    As I read through the comments I see a lot of interest and debate about hardware -- screen readability, battery life, size and weight -- and to a lessor extent e-book file formats and publishing. These are important, and they miss essential points.

    1. An e-book reader treats the student as a passive consumer. This is a model we have become all too familiar with, conditioned by being raised on a diet of printed books, movies and television. It fails because so much more is possible. A computer offers the opportunity for interactive learning, starting with social media and going straight into software development. Slashdot readers should known this. A key component is an on-going relationship with teachers, with interaction taking place entirely on-line, or as an enhancement to "brick and mortar" classroom activity.

    2. The information contained in textbooks does not need to be published for profit. It is time for the textbook industry to follow the telegraph industry into the halls of our museums. Better still, to be reduced to a Wikipedia page. MIT has shown the way with their OpenCourseWare. [] Slashdot readers appreciate the value of free software. It should be obvious the same thing applies to textbooks.

    3. It is not enough to fill a classroom with iMacs, or to offer an e-book reader in place of printed textbooks. What is needed is a larger infrastructure, something like a physical school and something akin to the Internet, the place where education takes place.

    If you are interested in contributing to the development of such a place, come and join the Open Slate Project. []

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