MWC08: Hands-on with the Readius eInk mobile device

MWC08: Hands-on with the Readius eInk mobile device

Summary: I spent most of the last two days in meetings and finally had a chance to randomly stroll the show floor. While I have a couple of targets in mind to visit, like the Modu device and S60 touch UI, I also was keeping my eye out for other cool things. I bumped into the Polymer Vision people who were demonstrating the Readius eReader device. I took a couple of photos and videos (below) and was much more impressed with the device than I thought I would be after reading some of the press materials released a month or so ago.

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I spent most of the last two days in meetings and finally had a chance to randomly stroll the show floor. While I have a couple of targets in mind to visit, like the Modu device and S60 touch UI, I also was keeping my eye out for other cool things. I bumped into the Polymer Vision people who were demonstrating the Readius eReader device. I took a couple of photos and videos (below) and was much more impressed with the device than I thought I would be after reading some of the press materials released a month or so ago.

Hands-on with the Readius eInk mobile device

The Readius' main function is an electronic reading device where you can read eBooks, magazines, and newspapers on the eInk display. However, you can also read RSS feeds and email, listen to podcasts, music, or audio books, and even use the device as a GSM mobile phone. The eInk is lighting fast at switching pages and between data and I was very impressed since my experiences with the Sony Reader having refresh rates of about a second or two. The device rolls up to a very compact form factor and I think I'll have to save up and import one of these from Europe when they are released the second half of this year.

Readius eInk device opened view

Specifications of the Readius include the following:

  • 115 g
  • 5 inch diagonal display in 16 grayscales
  • 115 x 57x 21 mm in size
  • 30 hours of continuous reading (estimating 10 seconds per page turn for a total of 10,800 page turns)
  • Tri-band GSM/HSDPA radio
  • USB 2.0 connectivity
  • Bluetooth 2.0 radio with A2DP support
  • ARM111 400 MHz processor
  • microSD expansion card slot with microSDHC support
  • 8 buttons for navigation and operation

The device felt solid in my hand and the navigation was well laid out. You easily turn pages by sliding your finger down the strip to the right of the buttons with green lights following as you scroll down the device. The 16 grayscale display looked fantastic and images were very clear. The response blew me away and I hope to see this type of integration in future eBook readers.

There is no text entry functionality and all calls you make are made by accessing your contact list and then selecting a contact. They were showing an early prototype of a web application where you go and manage all of your content so you can set up what RSS feeds appear, what podcast you transfer to and listen to on the device, what contacts are synced to your device, what magazines you subscribe to, etc. as a complete content management solution on the PC.

After seeing this device, I will be skipping the Kindle (unless Amazon can come out with something like this) and buying this much more pocketable device that can also serve as a phone if I need it to. There doesn't appear to be a way to buy and download content from just the device, but that may be coming in the future since it does support the 3.5G HSDPA networks.

I am also trying out a new service for live video feeding to the internet and have pasted the code to my Flixwagon live broadcast below. The connectivity isn't the greatest here at the show so most videos are not actually live since it takes a while to upload them. I wanted to see how this service works though and this video shot with the N95 is from a different representative and different device than the YouTube one so you may enjoy it as well.

UPDATE: Kevin Tofel asked me if the screen could be rotated so left and right hand people could use the device so I went back to the booth to ask about this. The current prototype I saw did not have this implemented yet, but the shipping model will have this ability. Check out the short video below showing how it rotates and the controls change when rotated. This makes this device a bit more compelling for everyone now, doesn't it?

Topics: Mobility, Browser, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Software

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2 comments
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  • I like the concept of eInk...

    I like the concept of eInk. Anyone who's had a chance to play with an eInk device
    will instantly notice how much easier on the eyes it is than a standard LCD (and
    especially a CRT.)

    I can't wait for the color screens to hit the market. The only draw back is the low
    response time, it doesn't handle motion video very well. However, in terms of stuff
    like eBook readers, watches, PDAs, etc., they're perfect.

    With no backlight, it also has excellent battery life.
    olePigeon
  • Some additional stuff to add

    It seems it's not only me that has been enchanted by this device (see my review, dated at 02/12, at http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/index.php?blog=3&p=2478&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 ) :)

    BTW, some important stuff should also be added to Matthew's article:

    - unlike ALL the previous e-link e-readers (which were all Linux-based), this one is based on WinCE, which means it'll be far easier for existing Windows Mobile programmers to port their existing apps. This is a big advantage!

    - currently, the display's resolution is pretty low (350*280) but this is promised to be improved. Hope they indeed do this.
    werner@...