Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hewlett-Packard Has An eBook Reader?

I don't know why others haven't picked up on what appears to be a leak in a Fortune magazine article about Amazon:
(Other competition is coming from publishers such as Hearst and computing companies, including HP. Apple is rumored to be mulling a reader too. Chances are they will all include some wireless connection.)

Emphasis added by me.

This is the first I've heard of hp actively developing an eBook reader.

They've shown off a prototype previously:

But that looked so absolutely screwy -- screwier than Kindle Mark I -- that no one took the effort seriously.

Today I must add that given the Gesture Area on the Palm Pre, the touchstrip interface no longer looks so screwy -- and that makes the last ten seconds of this next video a must-see:

hp has also been gung-ho developing flexible displays. They have a video all about that.

Plus, earlier this year hp announced a color flexible display prototype. And while reports indicate it's several years away from commercialization, color isn't needed right now for ebooks, so perhaps the monochrome version shown below -- impressively resisting abuse -- can be used:

What's also interesting is that hp never released a tablet UMPC. Everyone thought they'd be a natural entrant, but they passed. They did, however, enter the netbook fray with impressive models.

What's interesting about that is the ten-inch screen. That's the screen size for the rumored Apple tablet. Whenever I've looked at the hp mini in person, I always try to picture it without its keyboard, as a tablet.

And a touchscreen tablet is something hp could do. They have incorporated touch into their TouchSmart line of desktop and notebook PCs. How difficult would it be to graft that onto a ten-inch screen tablet?

An hp eBook reader brings up a whole series of issues:

1) What retailers would carry it?
2) What eBooks could it display?
3) How could eBooks be bought?

Could hp's eBook reader find its way into the world with a Barnes & Noble branding? With eReader software and ePub support built in? And Fictionwise/eReader as the eBookstore all ready to go?

One other thing I must note about hp's touchstrip UI idea: it sidesteps the clarity and contrast issues of the Sony Reader 700, which simply placed a touchscreen over its eInk didplay.


shayera said...

Interesting. Very very interesting to see HP possibly joining the party. Even though it's a bit late. They've got the ability to make a pretty decent one if they do.

Trisha said...

Really interesting idea. I think the gesture area could be a nice compromise between the touch screen and the prehistoric Kindle joystick. Seems pointless to favor touch screen over readability in a device like this.

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