Friday, September 29, 2006

Tech Files

Eeeek, It's TINY

Yes, that is a cell phone. It's the Xun Chi 138 phone, about the size of 2 AA batteries. It's 55 grams (2 oz), about 2.6 inches long, and has a 1.3 megapixel camera, mp3 player, and handwriting recognition - which is handy since the only way to dial is by using the stylus on the touchscreen (no room for a keypad)! Currently it is only for sale in China (for about $140 equivalent). They are writing english and french software for it to at least sell it in Europe. If it came to the US it would only run on GSM networks (T-mobile and a few others).

I'm not sure that I would want a phone this small, but it does point out that the limiting size factor is no longer the actual phone function, but rather the interface. For a while we will be able to improve phones by adding functions, but as some point the real paradigm shift will probably be some sort of radical shift in interface. That should prove interesting. More photos (caution, tasteless text).

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I want a real E-book reader! I would love to take my library with me when I travel, or just be able to have a large number of reference books/documents available at a meeting. The new Sony Reader is another step in the right direction. I know the people in Cambridge Mass, who spun out the E-ink display technology from MIT and it is very impressive. High contrast, no back light, and very comfortable to read. It almost looks like paper and requires no power except when changing the image.


Sony's new Reader device. More pictures and info here.

The Sony reader is supposed to hold 80 books in E-book format plus have an expansion slot. Pricing will be key, though, since last time they tried E-books it was killed by publishers pricing Ebooks the same or higher than paper versions despite drastically reduced production costs and favorable tax treatment. I certainly don't want to pay another $40 for an E-copy of a book I already have!!

Perhaps most promising is the fact the new reader can supposedly read PDF files as well. I wonder, though, how much memory that would take up and what the speed will be. If it can handle PDFs deftly enough I may get one just so I can carry around lots of reference documents and articles.

Sony isn't the only game in town though, I think many companies are working off a reference design by E-ink. Check out the E-book reader by Taiwan's Prime View International, below. It's vanishingly thin and someone who held it told me it weighs about the same as a blackberry!
The Ebook reader from Prime View International, Sony isn't the only game in town!
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