Posts Tagged ‘periodicals’


Announcing the Plastic Logic Que e-reader

The annual Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, is currently being held in Las Vegas. I've long had my calendar bookmarked in anticipation of yesterday being the release of Plastic Logic's Que e-reader, as its 8.5" x 11" dimensions poses it to become for periodicals what other e-readers are doing for books. From the Que's Web site:

Product Specifications

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g), USB, Bluetooth ® 2.0
  • Memory: 4 GB (Approx. 3.6 GB available for user data)
  • Display (viewable area): 10.5-inch diagonal, 944 x 1264 pixels at 150ppi, 8 gray levels
  • User Interface: Full Touchscreen, Virtual Keyboard
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, charging via computer or wall charger
  • Dimensions: 8.5" x 11" x .3"
  • Weight: Approximately 17 ounces

Supported Formats

  • QUE has native on-device support for PDF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, ePub, and TXT
  • Using the QUE software on your computer, QUE supports printable formats such as Microsoft Office 2003/2007

The Que's touch-screen interface sets it apart from the Kindle and Nook, which rely on traditional physical input. I believe doing so eliminates a cumbersome layer between the user and the content, and the Que's ability to annotate and highlight text is an expected feature of print media, which e-readers are trying to improve upon. Given that touch screens are available on as affordable and versatile a device as the Nintendo DS, I see no reason not to apply this technology to more practical purposes.

However, the device's price tag definitely identifies it as for "business professionals": models are available at either $649 and $799. And beyond the hardware is the software — which, if previous demonstrations are any indication, still have a ways to go.

It takes a lot of clicks on Plastic Logic's various Web sites before you finally arrive at the page to pre-order the Que, which ships in April 2010. Oddly enough, the page's domain is http://buyque.barnesandnoble.com/ specifications/ — Barnes and Noble? What involvement does the publisher of the Nook have in this competing product?

Computerworld, one of Plastic Logic's publishing partners, has the full story on the Que, one of 40 e-readers due to be released this calendar year.


Clumsy e-readers and elegant newspapers

The Barnes & Noble nook has recently drawn attention to the e-book market, but let's not forget the falling circulation of newspapers and magazines. They too are trying to adopt to this digital age, yet their attempts to persuade me of their savviness fall flat.

Time Inc, Condé Nast, Meredith, Hearst, and News Corp. have collaborated to create a shared vision for digital editions of their print publications. Here's a demo of their model of the future:



Does anyone else find this example unappealing? Maybe it's the use of a CGI hand instead of an actual, physical user demonstration, but the interface for these digital magazines strikes me as cumbersome and loaded more with bells and whistles than with practical features — as though the device were aimed at luring print luddites, not existing IT connoisseurs. Nothing at the homepage of the SI Tablet, as this particular model is apparently called, dissuades me from that opinion.

The benefits of such a transition may be overrated. Some print newspapers seem to be weathering both this economy and media revolution decently, with below-average losses in circulation, revenue, and staff. It's encouraging news, as hardcopy still has much to offer. In stark contrast to the above stilted proof-of-concept is this functional representation of existing technology:

Some futurists predict that the last print newspaper will be circulated in 2050, after which all written communication will occur digitally. I hope the day is longer off than that, as a healthy democracy will long have room and need for print journalism.