Forget Kindle DX. How about the ZuneBook?

Forget Kindle DX. How about the ZuneBook?

Summary: The ZuneBook is a Windows Mobile 7-based color touchscreen tablet device the size of a Kindle that plays audio and video media, with built-in e-book reader capabilities, Wi-Fi, runs .NET mobile applications and uses a scaled down version of the "Surface" interface, also known as Oahu.

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The ZuneBook is a Windows Mobile 7-based color touchscreen tablet device the size of a Kindle that plays audio and video media, with built-in e-book reader capabilities, Wi-Fi, runs .NET mobile applications and uses a scaled down version of the "Surface" interface, also known as Oahu. The cost? About $500.00. (Conceptual design by Spidermonkey)

Forget Kindle DX and its unitasker, locked-down functionality. I want the new Microsoft ZuneBook.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

If you haven't heard by now, the ZuneBook, which should be reaching store shelves sometime next year, will be a tablet device which Microsoft is releasing that will utilize a number of digital convergence technologies that have been under development for some time -- portable HD media playing, advanced touchscreen human interfaces based on a scaled-down, consumer version of "Surface" (Oahu).

The handheld, Kindle 2-sized, color touch screen ZuneBook will have e-book reader capabilities, as well as the ability to read and modify Microsoft Office documents, and will use the latest Windows Mobile 7 platform optimized for small MIDs and tablet devices. The device will run Windows 7 Mobile applications written to a superset of the current .NET Mobile Edition specification, so any software developer will be able to extend the device's functionality with games and other application software.

With the release of the device, Microsoft will be launching an online ZuneBook Store, where e-books, .NET mobile applications and various media content including music, movies and television shows will be hosted for instantaneous download directly from the unit, over Wi-Fi connection. A built-in SD-HC slot will allow users to easily expand the device's generous 8GB of flash storage. The cost? A mere $500 retail.

What do you mean you haven't heard of the ZuneBook? You think I just made this thing up?

Well, yeah, actually, I did. Sorry.

I may have pulled the ZuneBook out of my rear end, but the truth of the matter is that such a device would likely be a tremendous hit in the marketplace, if current Kindle figures are any indication. Apple is no doubt going to release it's own MID/Touchscreen tablet in the next year, but Microsoft has no such plans for something as ambitious as the ZuneBook. It seems the company is only interested in smartphones with their current designs for Windows Mobile 7, when really they could be producing the ultimate digital convergence device, with a huge built-in developer ecosystem that could crank out killer applications for this thing like nobody's business.

While the Apple Tablet will undoubtedly be successful and would have a built-in audience of iPhone and Macintosh loyalists, let's face it -- most people own PCs and run on Windows. The natural companion to Windows 7 would be a Windows Mobile-based tablet device, with the ability to access native Microsoft file formats and use Windows Media-compatible content. Because the device would be extensible, any number of modular data plugins -- such as Adobe PDF -- could be written so the device could read any e-book, document or media format. A built-in browser would also allow the ZuneBook to download and auto-install content from anyone's hosted ebook store.

The ZuneBook may only be a figment of my imagination, but I've got a feeling I'm not the only person out there that would like to see this device become a reality. Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Topics: Operating Systems, Wi-Fi, Tablets, Software, Hardware, Mobility, Mobile OS, Microsoft, Laptops, Windows

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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Talkback

84 comments
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  • Leave out Microsoft Reader format please, been burned before

    Jason,

    You stated, "Because the device would be extensible, any number of modular data plugins ? such as Adobe PDF ? could be written so the device could read any e-book, document or media format. A built-in browser would also allow the ZuneBook to download and auto-install content from anyone?s hosted ebook store."

    I think you may really be dreaming of utopia here that will never happen. I used to read ebooks with Microsoft Reader on my Pocket PCs, but that format is just about dead because new devices no longer have a reader client. To read these books now you need to keep an old Pocket PC around or find an old install of the app for your desktop. I doubt Microsoft would open up to many formats and fear we would be locked into a way for Microsoft to get a cut of ebook sales.
    palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
    • Extensible means extensible

      Anyone would be able to write an EPUB plugin, PDF plugins, ODF plugins, PRC/AportisDOC or even MOBI plugins. That's what extensible means :)
      jperlow
  • Forget both, what about the PerlowBook

    It will have these features:

    * Built in Wi-Fi
    * Built in Satellite Dish Antenna
    * Home Theater Speakers and Subwoofers
    * Ability to surf the web, manage calendar,
    contacts,
    etc.
    * Full color screen with full glare
    * 1 hour battery life
    * Will fit in the pocket
    * An IBM sticker
    markbn
    • Isn't it a tad too premature

      for there to be Kindle fanboi-ism?
      jperlow
      • No "fanboi-ism" (sic)

        I just paraphrased some of the nonsense you
        usually propose and added a couple of things

        However, isn't it premature to deride the Kindle
        DX?
        markbn
      • Apparently not.

        This one has his/her shorts in a wad because I posted info from Amazon's Kindle forum site, relating to problems people were having with the screen being damaged very easily.

        http://www.kindlenewsandreviews.com/kindle-owners-experiencing-broken-screen-issues/

        Just like the Microsoft, Linux & Apple, etc., fanboys/girls...no one is allowed to take issue with their beloved products...even if there are potential problems with it.

        IT_Guy_z
        • Oh, you get pissed off, poor soul

          Remember, there were those kinds of
          speculations about iPhone too:

          http://www.intomobile.com/2007/06/25/apple-
          iphone-may-be-incredibly-fragile.html

          So what? Every device can have any problem, but
          time will tell. However, I just pointed out
          that your favorite devices is so boring and
          makes you look so cheap that your only answer
          could be spreading FUD

          have a nice day.
          markbn
          • Who says I'm pissed off?

            I'm having one huge laugh at your pathetic responses.
            IT_Guy_z
          • Pathetic? That word better describes your childish attempts

            of mud sliding a device that is better than your
            favorite gadget

            "IT Guy"?? hahahahahaha
            markbn
  • Give it a rest Jason

    Many Kindle owners are interested in reading books
    *ONLY*. Most are 40+ years of age. They don't want to
    recharge a device continually.

    What part of this don't you get?

    If you want a Netbook, laptop or smart phone then use a
    Netbook, laptop or smartphone.

    Give this tired topic a rest.

    -M
    betelgeuse68
    • Now this would be an interesting product...

      ...not $500 interesting but definitely interesting. But MS just doesn't have the pull in this space. It didn't really occur to me until the last year or so that MS really isn't a consumer brand. Now watch the fanboys run in here talking about Windows....but if you pay attention the consumer really doesn't care about Windows itself....they just think thats how a PC or laptop runs/functions. The only other consumer product thats moving for MS is Xbox and its VERY VERY easy to forget its an MS product. Just about everything else with a big MS label flops in the consumer world.
      storm14k
      • $500

        is questionable. That was a back of the envelope calculation based on what parts I thought might go into it. Could easily be $300 with manufacturing scale, etc.
        jperlow
      • What about mice and keyboards

        and to be fair, Zune hasn't flopped relative to the other ipod also rans, just compared to the ipod.

        Of course this is ironic given that MS has historically crushed it's competitors with marketing, but in this case the other ultra-marketer Apple has outdone them.
        stano360
      • Greed is ruining MS's name and will be its downfall...

        It's why I suspect that Google WILL win in the end. Microsoft will try to control the content. Google will throw it wide open, be everybody's buddy, and sneak in a few ads. LOL By giving stuff away "free" and using open source, Google makes more friends in the consumer space.

        It wasn't so long ago, people bought 1 copy of a piece of software and put it on all their computers. But now, MS, and many others are trying to convince you that its now only 1 copy for every computer -despite the fact that the number of computing devices per household is rising by leaps and bounds. At least the security suites partially get it and most offer 3-license boxes. MS better start doing the same or soon Android will be on every smartphone, MID, and then march right onto the desktop. No 1 copy for 1 computer limits there.

        Now if someone was going to do a Zunebook correctly it would need Bluetooth 3.0 (so would support wireless mice and keyboards), tilt sensors and an accelerometer too -essentially all the features already in an iPod Touch.

        To betelgeuse68: With all the power saving advances being made in LCD's and 20-sec quick-charging batteries, the e-ink display may very well die before anyone can even get around to a consumer model with color.
        HeadScratcher7
  • How About The FlopBook?

    Might as well call it for what it would be at launch..a FLOP.
    itanalyst2
    • Why flop?

      Because of the branding (Zune) or because it is a Microsoft product? Branding can be anything, the important consideration is the proposed technology built into the device. We could call this device anything.

      Windows 7 will be a success. If they can (mostly) erase the bad feelings about Vista, they can erase similar feelings about Zune. The bottom line is the Windows 7 mobile software and the integration of the built in applications cannot suck if the device is to be successful.

      If it's a question of "Any device released by Microsoft cannot possibly be good" then your target device is a iTablet or an Android netbook. Plenty of consumers will want integration with their Windows systems and will purchase this device based entirely on feature set and pricing.
      jperlow
      • What ever happened to the zunephone?

        All this speculation and nothing. Again let me state this as clearly as
        possible. Microsoft is not in the hardware business. You bunch of
        zunies/lunies get real.
        Intellihence
        • The point of speculation

          Is to make people think outside the box. Speculation and productive discussion drives innovation.
          jperlow
  • ZuneBook models

    ZuneBook Starter - only displays 1 color, white or black. Your choice.

    ZuneBook Home Basic - displays 2 colors. Any two colors as long as they are black and white.

    ZuneBook Home Premium - displays 16 colors and reminds you of everything you miss about Windows 1.0.

    ZuneBook Home Media Center - displays 256 colors and has speakers. The sound is always 2.63 seconds delayed from the video.

    ZuneBook Business Basic - displays two colors on white background. Red and black. Color displayed is real-time linked to the profitability of your employer.

    ZuneBook Ultimate - aka the Apple iReader. Available at your local Apple store.
    davebarnes
    • LOL

      Funny, but predictable
      jperlow