Updated: Will the Kno Tablet finally make e-textbooks mainstream?

The 14.1" Kno tablet will either be the Ed Tech holy grail or just one more failed ebook startup in a world that still likes killing trees.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor
Update: VentureBeat released new video on YouTube of Kno CEO, Osman Rashid (co-founder of Chegg, a textbook rental site I covered several months ago) demonstrating the single-screen tablet: Interestingly, when I reviewed Chegg in July of last year, I noted that one of the major weaknesses of the service was that you were not allowed to take notes in the margins of books (only highlighting was allowed). One of the major strengths of the Kno that Mr. Rashid highlights is the ability to take notes and annotate the electronic texts. I guess he read my blog. Original post: A 14-inch tablet filled with custom book reading and PDF-centric software is either complete folly inviting breakage and sticker shock or a revolutionary device that will finally bring electronic textbooks into the mainstream for college students. We'll see which one it is when and if Kno's tablet comes to market "before the end of the year." We've heard it before, of course. In fact, most of the readers of this blog have been waiting for electronic textbook revolution that we just know is right around the corner. Forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical. And yet, watching the video from Kno's website of their 14" dual screen convertible tablet not only makes me want to start writing some brilliantly interactive textbooks, but makes me want to go back to college so I can justify getting one of these things. Check out the video below:

Kno Video "New" from David Straus on Vimeo.

Although details about the dual-screen full book reader and the newly-announced single-screen tablet are still emerging, it looks as though the startup company has eschewed Apple's everything-must-be-paper-thin philosophy and created a substantial device that just might stand up to the abuse to which only students could subject electronics. The software also looks compelling, easily replacing the majority of paper, books, pens, notepads, etc., that the average student carries in his/her backpack.
It looks as though the Kno might even really make it to market, given content deals with Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Wiley. Kno is planning an App store, as well, to add functionality to the device and make it more competitive with the iPad and the coming storm of Android tablets. Update: The company also raised $46 million in financing led by Mark Andreesen of Netscape fame. Given this sort of high-profile backing, the chances of the Kno making it to market and building the ecosystem for which they're hoping are certainly increasing. Will it work? Will this be the little bit of disruptive kit that finally pushes us past the e-textbook tipping point? I don't know. A few people thought the Kindle DX would do that, too, until they actually tried to use one. However, if it's even half as slick as the marketing video would suggest, Kno is well on its way to ushering in a revolution.
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