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Kurzweil Takes On Kindle With "Blio" E-Reader 168

Posted by timothy
from the free-as-in-what-exactly dept.
kkleiner writes "Ray Kurzweil, prolific inventor and Singularity enthusiast, is planning to debut Blio at CES 2010. Blio is an e-reader platform, not hardware, that can be used on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Kurzweil company knfb Reading, Blio preserves the original format of books including typography, and illustrations, in full color. It also takes advantage of knfb’s high quality text to speech capabilities and supports animation and video content."
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Kurzweil Takes On Kindle With "Blio" E-Reader

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  • Is this new? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamapizza (1312801) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:27AM (#30655216)
    There are already many other software based ereaders that exist, this one is just a bit more featured. Or am I being cynical again?
    • Not new (Score:4, Funny)

      by Shikaku (1129753) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:38AM (#30655372)

      Miss Blio wants to give you your future. Call me now for a free reading!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by happy_place (632005)
      You mean like the free Acrobat Reader? No wait, that supports only PDFs. Really the main advantage of this e-reader is that unlike Kindle, it uses a full sized monitor AND your computer, is NOT portable, and since it's plugged into your wall, will last as long as the power's on in your house, as opposed to that dreadful Kindle that lasts upwards of 10-15 days battery life (when wifi's turned off). So there!
      • Note that Calibre seems to work just fine if you're insane enough to want an e-reader on your comp.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bcrowell (177657)

        You mean like the free Acrobat Reader? No wait, that supports only PDFs. Really the main advantage of this e-reader is that unlike Kindle, it uses a full sized monitor AND your computer [...]

        TFA tries very hard to highlight the main advantage of Blio over Kindle. If you look at the very first screenshot in the article, it's a color illustration of a human skull from an anatomy textbook. This is an appplication that Kindle can't handle: illustrated textbooks. Kindle is black and white, has a page that's rel

      • by mforbes (575538)
        Wow did I read that wrong. At first glance, I thought you'd written "...as opposed to that dreadful Kindle that lasts upwards of 10-15 days battery life (when wife's turned off)."
      • Re:Is this new? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by _KiTA_ (241027) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:56PM (#30657802) Homepage

        You mean like the free Acrobat Reader? No wait, that supports only PDFs.

        Really the main advantage of this e-reader is that unlike Kindle, it uses a full sized monitor AND your computer, is NOT portable, and since it's plugged into your wall, will last as long as the power's on in your house, as opposed to that dreadful Kindle that lasts upwards of 10-15 days battery life (when wifi's turned off). So there!

        Yes, because this will never ever be ported, ever, and the existence of this eReader, pushing technology forward, will not influence the Kindle 3 and Nook 2's features in any way.

        I think the new toy in this (and it's Kurzweil, he ALWAYS has a neat toy in his stuff) that we should be paying attention to is that it has actually good Text to Speech, and it on-the-fly translates to 16 different languages [singularityhub.com] . While neither are particuarly NEW technologies they are technologies that are:

        1. Ripe for maturing (machine translation is getting better and better every year, for example)
        2. World-changing if they get perfected.

        The world changing thing I want to explain -- Kurzweil has already done something similar -- the first OCR + Text to Speech commercial application was the Kurzweil Reading Machine, back in 1976. 30 years later, those tabletop sized prototypes are now... hidden inside pen sized scanners. It kinda pushed forward Assistive Technology quite a bit, for the time -- before then, the only choice Blind people had to read things was braille. Now, with the right gadgets, they can read anything.

        When you add on the fly translation to the mix, things get... interesting. Manga fans, for example, won't have to wait for translations, just click, click, bam, instant translations. You'll be able to subscribe to a French Newspaper, get it in the morning, auto translated, ready to go. And finally the US military can finally feel safe and justified in firing all those gay Arabic translators, cause they can finally be replaced by robots.

        Technologies such as Vocaloid (an artificial pop star software kit... thing) put forth another idea -- combining this with Speech to Text. Automatic, in line translation of diplomatic speeches, news programs, and (of course), anime and entertainment, anyone?

        In short, while as a bookreader it's pretty good (and it is, it looks a lot better than the Nook or Kindle PC apps)... I'm more excited about the translation tech inside it.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      I don't really see that it has that many advantages over PDF. Translation? Do you really want to listen to/read a machine translated book?

    • Firefox renders html ebooks just fine. It even does color, various fonts and sizes, a variety of pic formats, video, and even supports bookmarks too!

    • but Blio is the only e-Reader designed with Singularity compatiblity in mind!

      Don't let your cyber-mind go unstimulated for kiloseconds when fragile, meat-popsicle designed e-Readers fail to survive the geek-rapture, buy a Blio today!
  • by jimbobborg (128330) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:28AM (#30655232)

    My Brother-in-Law has a Kindle. The main reason he uses it is it's a lot easier to read text on the Kindle's LCD than on a computer LCD as there is no refresh rate on the Kindle. The screen refreshes only when you turn a page, which makes it easier on the eyes than a 60Hz computer LCD display.

    Also, Blio on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod touch, but no Linux? WTF?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by itsme1234 (199680)

      You're thinking CRT, LCDs are in this respect very similar to e-ink, they change only when you need them to change (i.e. there's no refresh while showing static images). There is a flicker if the backlight is fluorescent (as opposed to the new LED backlight present in many new notebooks and netbooks) but you get the same flicker if you look at anything (event a book) under fluorescent light (which most people tolerate quite well).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jgtg32a (1173373)

        E-Ink is still a helluva lot easier on the eyes than an LCD

        • Not nearly as much so as compared to CRT. The only issue with an LED-backlit LCD is eye fatigue from the brightness. This is why God (my pet name for whichever programmer actually first thought of this) came up with a color inversion setting in X-server (and I'm sure Mac and even Windows can do it too.) Voila, black background with glowing text. Still not quite as easy as e-ink, but close.

        • by bkr1_2k (237627)

          Turn down the brightness of your monitor. I do believe the e-ink will still be less irritating/straining to the eyes, but not having your monitor ridiculously bright makes a huge difference and people seem to forget they can control it.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Most TFT LCDs in portable devices and computer monitors do need a continuous refresh. You're thinking of LCDs in calculators and crap, which don't. LCD refresh is normally around 60hz.

        The bigger problem is the flourescent light in most LCDs though, because that certainly does cause eyestrain. Haven't you ever had to go through an office ergonomics whatchamajigger? They tell you to look at your monitor no more than 10 minutes at a time to reduce eye strain. Looking at an LCD for too long without breaks

    • by vlm (69642)

      as there is no refresh rate on the Kindle.

      Oh, theres a refresh "rate" alright, its about two seconds aka about zero point five Hz. That's why I specifically purchased a LCD based ebook reader.

      I got to try a sony eink product, it was so slow, the first time I tried to change pages I had enough time to think it had crashed, or perhaps it was a static demo page that can't change, and the next couple times I switched pages I thought it was about to crash, memory leak slowing it to a crawl or the battery was nearly dead or something. I intellectually

      • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

        That refresh rate is why its really only used on ebook readers, where the primary action is turning a page, which takes a second or two on a paper book as well. As far as for the UI for selecting and downloading books, etc., I haven't used the Sony reader, but the Kindle 1 and the Nook both have a pretty decent workaround - using a smaller, faster display to do the active portions of the UI. On the nook, its that little LCD touchscreen on the bottom, while on the Kindle 1, there is a 2x40(ish) silver stri

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        God, you must have the worst case of ADD in history. Do you turn pages in a book and have enough time to think maybe your arm is broken because it took so long? Because that's about how long it takes, a normal page turn.

        Even the old ones (I have a prs-500) only take a half second to turn the page, unless you are doing something funky like custom fonts and stuff like that. If yours was taking longer than that then you were probably using an oddly formatted book, or perhaps a pdf and the particular model yo

      • I don't know about the sony product, but the Kindle was adequate. Obviously, it's far too slow for internet browsing, but good enough for turning static pages.

    • My Brother-in-Law has a Kindle. The main reason he uses it is it's a lot easier to read text on the Kindle's LCD than on a computer LCD as there is no refresh rate on the Kindle. The screen refreshes only when you turn a page, which makes it easier on the eyes than a 60Hz computer LCD display.

      Also, Blio on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod touch, but no Linux? WTF?

      I've been reading ebooks for years now...

      Originally on a Handspring Visor [wikipedia.org], then on a Palm m505 [wikipedia.org], then on my desktop and laptop using various ereader programs, then on a Dell mini 9 [wikipedia.org]... I've used LCDs and CRTs both.

      I just recently picked up a nook and I have to say it is the easiest screen to read on so far. Much easier on the eyes.

      I can read for hours and hours with no more eyestrain than if I was reading a paper book. The e-ink display is definitely superior to any CRT or LCD I've ever read for long perio

      • by sznupi (719324)

        ...
        I just recently picked up a nook and I have to say it is the easiest screen to read on so far. Much easier on the eyes.

        I can read for hours and hours with no more eyestrain than if I was reading a paper book. The e-ink display is definitely superior to any CRT or LCD I've ever read for long periods of time. My only complaint is that there's no backlight or anything... It would have been nice if they'd embedded a little LED somewhere on the thing, so I could read in low-light conditions easier.

        One of the reasons it's so easy on the eyes is specifically because it doesn't have a backlight. Our eyes get tired less if there's not much brightness differences in the environment.

        • One of the reasons it's so easy on the eyes is specifically because it doesn't have a backlight. Our eyes get tired less if there's not much brightness differences in the environment.

          I understand this... But it is very hard to read in the dark. Which is why there are so many book lights [google.com] available out there.

          I'm not suggesting that the entire display should be back-lit 24/7... But it would be nice if it had some kind of integrated book light so I didn't have to turn on a bedside lamp in order to read at night.

          • by sznupi (719324)

            Bedside lamp is better though. It has a huge bonus of lighting the area much more uniformly, hence helping to ease this eye-strain that was mentioned by us previously.

    • Also, Blio on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod touch, but no Linux? WTF?

      All you need from a good and fast e-book reader on Windows and Linux is FBReader [fbreader.org], anyway. Open source, lightning fast, lightweight UI - what else do you want?

      Combine with large-point FreeSerif on high-DPI screens to get nice "PDF-like" font smoothing, and you're all set.

  • by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:30AM (#30655254)

    Why fail?
      As is runs on a conventional PC the DRM will be hacks in hours if not days s othe publishers will pull their titles.
    Then the patent tolls will fire up their pencils and sue this into oblivion. There are patents on reading a text already. I'm sure that every toll and their dogs will be out in force to get a bit of their action on this.

    Sorry for being so negative but I feel sure that there are just too many vested interests to let this succeed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      The Kindle DRM scheme has been broken for months. Publishers don't seem to care (much).

    • by Quarters (18322)
      This would only be pertinent if the vast majority of consumers would be even the least bit interested in knowing how to pirate ebooks. The breaking of the DVD encryption has neither stopped studios from releasing DVDs nor consumers from buying them. Music labels still release albums on iTunes even though it is trivial to get around the DRM on that system, etc.., etc... It's dangerous to make general predictions about the death of a given platform or tech based on piracy. The people that know how to perform
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by m.ducharme (1082683)

        Music labels still release albums on iTunes even though there is no longer any DRM on that system, etc.., etc...

        FTFY

    • >>There are patents on reading a text already.

      This sounds so odd. A patent for reading text on a COMPUTER of all things.

      Odd but surely true.
      • I should have added the two words 'out loud'

        There is a patent on reading text out loud using a Cmputer or other similar electronic device.
        If adopeted here in the UK then bang goes the Talking books for the blind. The'd never be able to pay the extorsionate license fees.

  • One standard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:34AM (#30655308) Homepage Journal

    There are 50 million e-book formats and standards. What appeals to me about Kindle or Nook is that it is backed by a huge retailer. I feel fairly confident that if I buy a book from them, I can access it in the future. I know they will have a huge library of titles in their format. I feel strongly that they stand a chance to become the dominant standard. Kindle is opening themselves up to other devices and resellers. My wife has been buying books via the Kindle app on her iPhone.

    Would I prefer a nice open standard with no DRM? Certainly. Will retailers ever support that? No.

    • Re:One standard (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cain (14472) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:45AM (#30655468) Journal

      I feel fairly confident that if I buy a book from them, I can access it in the future.

      Don't be too sure about that. In a supremely ironic move, Amazon recently deleted [nytimes.com] Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindles even though the books had been legally purchased. It's as if Amazon walked into your house and took books from your shelves, leaving a few bucks in their place. Being backed by a huge retailer makes me less confident that I'll be able t read the ebooks I purchase in the future.

      • I feel fairly confident that if I buy a book from them, I can access it in the future.

        Don't be too sure about that. In a supremely ironic move, Amazon recently deleted [nytimes.com] Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindles even though the books had been legally purchased. It's as if Amazon walked into your house and took books from your shelves, leaving a few bucks in their place. Being backed by a huge retailer makes me less confident that I'll be able t read the ebooks I purchase in the future.

        Thanks to the public outcry, they then apologized, gave them back, and promised never to do so again.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MtHuurne (602934)
          They promised to never do it again, except in certain situations [arstechnica.com]. This includes "judicial orders", so this means that if a government outlaws a book, they can not only prohibit future sales, but also make existing copies disappear. It also means that a copyright conflict could still cause a book to be removed, but only after a judge orders it.
          • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            That's why I never ever recommend the Kindle. They have far too much control over your legitimately purchased books, and you can never move them as far as I know.

            That's why I like ePub, which is gaining ground fast. And it is much easier for publishers to use Adobe's tools for ePub books than the Kindle, so a lot of them are publishing in ePub, and then converting to Kindle.

            Yes it has DRM, but it treats e-books as books and is only really there to try to make an ebook about as hard to copy as a normal boo

        • by bkr1_2k (237627)

          Promises are easily broken. They shouldn't have been able to do it in the first place, and that still doesn't help support the argument that they won't change their format in the future to something no longer compatible.

      • Amazon refunded the purchase, and they were forced to do so because they didn't have the right to legally sell it in the first place.

        I've seen a few small sellers basically disappear. They shut off their DRM servers and you are left with nothing.

        Again, I'd prefer an open standard with no DRM. But Kindle is probably the best we're going to get.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          Again, I'd prefer an open standard with no DRM. But Kindle is probably the best we're going to get.

          ePub, it's an open standard with optional DRM (it's up to the publisher), but even the DRM is sane and not all that restrictive. Sony uses it now exclusively, and B&N will sell it to you as an option (they have their own proprietary format similar to Kindle's as well). Plus there are a dozen more online retailers who sell ePub, and Project Gutenberg has converted everything to ePub.

          I really hope it grows quickly enough to stomp out the Kindle's proprietary bull, but Amazon is a giant in this young bus

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vlm (69642)

      What appeals to me about Kindle or Nook is that it is backed by a huge retailer. I feel fairly confident that if I buy a book from them, I can access it in the future. I know they will have a huge library of titles in their format. I feel strongly that they stand a chance to become the dominant standard.

      Sounds exactly like Circuit City's DIVX disks.... How'd that work out?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Enderandrew (866215)

        Divx was always a rental if I recall. You didn't have to worry about them sticking around, because you only had the rights to watch the disc once. Divx was designed to be a fairly disposable format.

      • by clickety6 (141178)

        Or Walmart's DRM encumbered mp3 files for which they switched off their verification servers.

        If it's stuck with DRM, them you haven't bought anything - you've just paid to borrow it for a while, at their convenience...

        • by HAKdragon (193605)
          Or Walmart's DRM encumbered mp3 files for which they switched off their verification servers.

          Unless there has been an update since October of 2008, they changed their minds... [informationweek.com]
        • As someone else posted, they ended up keeing the DRM servers online.

          If the retailer stays in business, and shuts the DRM servers down, they are legally required to refund your purchase, which means you got an extended rental for free.

          Again, I prefer a DRM-free model. But I'm not all that worried about losing purchases via Amazon. They're one of the few companies in this country that just continue to grow, despite the recession.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      It's BOOKS. The only format you ultimately need to support is ASCII. Perhaps you need to support something a little more fancy like PDF.

      Whether or not a jerk like Ellison will buy into the format is entirely separate from how dominant Amazon is.

      Really. The first question to ask is "what will it do with my ancient copy of the Gutenberg Project"? Then ask "what will it do with these corporate docs in RTF and PDF?". Then go from there? How will it handle the Baen electronic library?

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        ASCII isn't that great for ebooks. You need a format that will get you closer to the functionality of a book, with things like TOC that links to sections of the book, page jumping within the book, etc.

        Also having a few standard publishing formats and the ability to use images is a big need.

        That's why I like ePub, it's based on an open standard and while it has optional DRM, it isn't controlled by any one company the way Kindle's DRM is. Project Gutenberg does ePub, even, and all of Google's PD books are a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hey! (33014)

        The whole ASCII only thing was one of the most brain dead decisions the Gutenberg ever made.

        Many books go through the ASCII lobotomy relatively unscathed, of course, but there's lots of things ASCII just can't do. That's not just peripheral things like italics, boldface or underline. I'm talking about things you absolutely need to represent what is being said. It's foreign scripts like Greek. It's mathematical symbols -- no classic math books for Gutenberg. It's currency symbols other than '$'. It's commo

    • Would I prefer a nice open standard with no DRM? Certainly. Will retailers ever support that? No.

      Until Google gets into the eReader business of course....well, then we will at least get a pseudo-open standard...or something.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Google is already in the ebook business, teaming up with Sony to produce their public domain books in ePub format - which happens to be an open standard that is quickly becoming the most popular format outside of Amazon's proprietary format for the Kindle.

  • by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3@@@phroggy...com> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:36AM (#30655348) Homepage

    ...but the Kindle is a hardware platform. It's the hardware that makes it compelling, not the software. If you don't care about the hardware, and are only interested in the content, then all you're really looking for is an alternative to Amazon's e-book store - not an alternative to the Kindle.

    In fact, hold

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      In fact, hold

      Nice, I see what you did there.

      I scrolled through TFA (really) and discovered the magical chart where the Blio e-Book reader software (oh, sorry, it's a "platform") is compared to various e-Book reader solutions... but not Adobe Reader, which otherwise pretty much has all the features of Blio, and then a whole lot more. I imagine it's a major PITA to generate it well, but Reader files have long been able to have information about the flow of the document which permits intelligent reflow for small displays,

  • PDF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Congratulations, you've invented Portable Document Format.

    • Yes, or even full Postscript.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      PDF sucks for e-books - it cannot be properly scaled to different screen sizes, as it doesn't reflow.

      The de-facto established standard for e-books is now ePub, and it is reflowable, and has the proper metadata store with fields typically used for books.

  • UTTERLY PATHETIC (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384)

    Famous self promoting futurist has plunged deep into his well of creativity to give us a Kindle Clone.

    • by Homburg (213427)

      At least this time his "invention" is a clone of a fairly useful idea, the PDF, rather than being a clone of a deeply moronic idea like the singularity.

    • Re:UTTERLY PATHETIC (Score:5, Informative)

      by John Whitley (6067) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:58PM (#30657824) Homepage

      Blio is not a Kindle and that's the point. It's not tied to particular hardware, and as such is intended to work on a wide variety of platforms, including slate devices. And unlike Kindle and many other ebook formats, Blio has color, support for proper typography and layout, and more. Personally, I see the Kindle and many current competitors as devices that are like the pre-original-iPod MP3 players. Player UI often *sucked* for navigating even a tiny library of music, but hey, they were still kinda neat, right?

      Whether Blio is "it" or not is irrelevant -- Kurzweil's idea is spot on, in that the current generation devices restrict the use of much of what we've learned over the centuries about how to present text and information.

  • For a guy that is supposed to be a step ahead tech-wise, apparently he doesn't understand that people want a portable device that is easy to read. A laptop/ iPhone/ iPod is not an easy-to-read from device* so creating a reader for those devices doesn't really get rid of the initial problem of having to use those devices. Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?! Seriously? Do you carry around one of those magnifying screens from "Brazil"? *laptop...well, the problem is the back lighting and eye fatigue, not t
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Halo1 (136547)

      Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?! Seriously?

      I do (iPod Touch). Initially mainly from Baen/Webscription.net, nowadays also a lot from Project Gutenberg. It's mainly a lot easier to carry around than library books. I basically stopped going to the public library since I started reading this way.

      Do you carry around one of those magnifying screens from "Brazil"?

      Actually, it works surprisingly well for me (I'm 30). A colleague of mine, who's in his early fifties, can't read the text without scaling it to the point where you have so little text on a screen that it becomes useless though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Horses for courses, my friend. Complain all you like about the size of a smartphone or the screen quality of a laptop, but I'm not going to carry around a dedicated piece of hardware just to read books on. I already have a smartphone that does the job almost as well right here in my pocket, and that's good enough for me.

      • by Fizzol (598030)
        I do carry around a dedicated e-reader. It is far superior to any phone or netbook for ease and comfort of reading. So, while a smartphone might be good enough for you it definitely isn't for me or a lot of other people.
        • As I said, horses for courses, my friend. I am not disagreeing with you.

          Your e-reader may well be far superior for readability. My smartphone is far superior for being in my pocket at all times. I don't carry a bag around with me all day, I have nowhere to put an e-reader, so having access to read books on my phone is 100% better for me than having no books to read at all.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Oh my, the times are changing too fast for me, it seems. I can easily carry in my bag at least one piece of hardware for reading text. In the form of analogue book.

        And I've heard those e-book readers are actually smaller. And can hold much more than one volume.

    • Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?

      I do. All the time. And I own a hardware Kindle, too. But the Kindle app on the iPod Touch is *much* better (brighter, faster, lighter, better contrast, less eye movement, easier to hold, works in the dark, no ghosting, totally one-handed use, tons more storage.) Of the five font sizes, I use the three smallest depending on how much movement is going on. Passenger in a car, middle size. Late at night, still in bed, I use the smallest size. Otherwise, the next to sma

    • by C10H14N2 (640033)

      Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?! Seriously?

      Me. Daily.

      Do you carry around one of those magnifying screens from "Brazil"?

      No. Stanza and Kindle for iPhone have a variable font-size that is perfectly sufficient to approximate or best that of an average paperback.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pilgrim23 (716938)
      I recall reading Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad on a Newton. To this day a Kindle is the only machine with a screen the size of a Newton (which is portable) but lacks one feature. a green back light. I STILL occasionally use my Newton 2000 to read books and many Pub Domain books are still available in Newton package format. Of course I also read...books.. you know paper, has a cover. fits easy int he lap...
    • or phone?! Seriously? Do you carry around one of those magnifying screens from "Brazil"?

      Box meet the outside. The text can be any size. There is no reason that the iPod screen has to display a whole "page" as we know it in print with a tiny font. About a paragraph at a time would be about right with nice big letters, easy to read.

    • He isn't a step ahead, he just makes a lot of self-serving noise and stupid/bored reporters report it. Kurzweil is a snake oil salesman for the 21st century. Nothing to see here.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Lots of people. I used to read a lot of books on my Sony Clie, which had a similar sized (but not nearly as good) screen to the iPhone. I've got several reference books on my iPhone that I might not read cover to cover, but are very handy to refer to. The problem is, most books are difficult to format for the phone. The built in PDF reader has trouble zooming in on columns properly, for example.

  • (as TFA says) BLIO is free. Seems logical since at this point it's a working concept. It's an idea (seems to be a good one) with no implementation as yet, but it's not quite vaporware because it's based on a working technology and product. Still, it's out there for anyone who wants to develop an e-reader for its own sake (a free reader), or to compete with other readers (another commercial product).

    The bad news is "Blio will adopt some form of DRM and proprietary formatting". The good news is there probably

    • (as TFA says) BLIO is free. Seems logical since at this point it's a working concept.

      Calibre is free. And will read pretty much any e-Book format currently in use. And convert from one form to another, if what you get isn't supported by your particular eBook reader.

      And since it also allows you to read the eBooks on your PC, I'm not really sure what the special niche of this Blio thing will be....

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Hey, perhaps he's in fact hoping this particular tech will bring the singularity one step closer...

  • The best technology won't necessarily win. The best marketed one will.
    (BetaMax, Superdisk, etc...)

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      The best technology won't necessarily win. The best marketed one will.

      (BetaMax, Superdisk, etc...)

      That's the beauty of capitalism.

  • meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:05PM (#30655804) Homepage

    From the fine article:

    By focusing on the software, and not trying to maintain a hardware device, Kurzweil hopes to provide the most versatile, life-like electronic version of print books and enhance them with multimedia.

    The first problem with this approach is that there's no physical device. Books are physical, portable objects. This software may be wonderful and all, but it still lives in a computer. I've read ebooks for literally years, and I was never happy with the computer-based ereader software. I always preferred reading on something small and portable like a PDA than on my PC. Laptops are better than a desktop PC, but still not as good as a book. Netbooks are closer still, but not quite there.

    So you've got a beautiful, life-like electronic version of a print book... And it is stuck on your computer. I'm not impressed.

    The next problem is that he's trying to enhance the books with multimedia.

    Anyone remember when CD-ROMs were just going mainstream? Remember all the multimedia encyclopedias that were available? Remember how cool it was to look up an article on something and be able to watch a video or hear a speech or something? Yeah... Notice how those have pretty much stopped being popular?

    Sure, it might be handy to have good text-to-speech in an ereader... And there are certainly some books that would benefit from a good dose of multimedia content... But, for the most part, I don't think many books are going to benefit from any of this.

    There is a reason why classes - even highly visual/interactive ones like science labs - require textbooks. They can spell things out clearly and concisely, complete with diagrams and formula - which words and video can't accomplish as neatly.

    There is a reason why I read books instead of going to the movies - well-written text and a healthy imagination can produce better visuals than anything in Hollywood.

    • Anyone remember when CD-ROMs were just going mainstream? Remember all the multimedia encyclopedias that were available? Remember how cool it was to look up an article on something and be able to watch a video or hear a speech or something? Yeah... Notice how those have pretty much stopped being popular?

      Yeah, funny thing, the Internet came along and wiped out the market for these.

      • Anyone remember when CD-ROMs were just going mainstream? Remember all the multimedia encyclopedias that were available? Remember how cool it was to look up an article on something and be able to watch a video or hear a speech or something? Yeah... Notice how those have pretty much stopped being popular?

        Yeah, funny thing, the Internet came along and wiped out the market for these.

        I really don't think it was simply the Internet that killed those multimedia encyclopedias.

        That would imply that what had died was specifically the multimedia encyclopedia on CD-ROM... But I'm not aware of a whole lot of multimedia encyclopedia websites out there. The obvious one is Wikipedia... But most of those articles are just text with a few images - nothing printed page couldn't deliver.

        Or you could suggest that the Internet as a whole has become the multimedia encyclopedia... Type your search int

  • preserves the original format of books

    That's precisely what I don't want. A screen is not a page of paper and a window on a screen is very definitely not a page. I want the e-book to reformat itself to fit my current viewing preferences which, by the way, will change from device to device, will change depending on lighting and may even change for no reason at all.

  • by dwiget001 (1073738) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:13PM (#30655910)

    I have been reading using "ABOOK" for many years now.

    1. Long battery life, in fact, it is so advanced, that it doesn't even have "batteries", in the traditional sense.

    2. Sure, you have to manipulate the "pages" by hand, but only when you need to turn the page.

    3. Heck, I can even loan it to people or, if I am feeling very generous, I can just give "ABOOK" away, whether to friends, family members or the local library.

    4. ...

    5. PROFIT!!!!

    "ABOOK" is a sure WEINNAR!

  • by Foolicious (895952) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:14PM (#30655942)
    Why do all these products have such stupid names? Brio, Treo, Kindle, Nano, Vaio, blah blah blah. It's like there's a council somewhere that approves product names based only on how gadgety and futuristic they sound, but under the assumption that in the future product names will only end with vowel sounds.
    • by slim (1652)

      Because all real words, and most made up words, have already been claimed, either by real products or by trademark squatters.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Why do all these products have such stupid names? Brio, Treo, Kindle, Nano, Vaio, blah blah blah. It's like there's a council somewhere that approves product names based only on how gadgety and futuristic they sound, but under the assumption that in the future product names will only end with vowel sounds.

      As opposed to the Apple design council where all product names will only begin with a vowel, and only one particular vowel at that.

  • Don't blame the Kindle for DRM. Blame the book publishers. The Kindle works fine with or without DRM. Unfortunately, publishers are only releasing their content with DRM, so any ebook reader which lacks DRM support is certain to fail (including this one).

  • My first e-reader was a palm m130. That's not a dedicated unit, reading books was just a happy secondary ability. But man I read the hell out of that thing. Got a tungsten after that. Again, a great reader. It got long in the tooth and I haven't seen any palm products worth the time. Got clued in on the ipod touch. It's a hell of an ebook platform and oh, by the way, look at all the other stuff it can do.

    As far as distribution goes, they're still charging too much for books. I'll pay a dollar or two for an

    • by fyngyrz (762201)

      But a dollar for a movie I want to watch now can be even more convenient than waiting 2-10 hours for a movie to finish on bittorrent, depending on how well it's seeded.

      And don't forget, as compared to purchasing intellectual property, bittorrent offers the unique opportunity to pay a huge fine and/or go to the federally sponsored involuntary ass-fuck brothel for a few years.... I mean, that is priceless!

  • Wake me when we get direct neural I/O.

  • The biggest challenge today with electronic texts is that page build needs to be fast. PDF does not perform well. DJVU texts perform much better, are smaller in general and can be read more comfortablly. An ebook reader should be able to read both formats comfortably. Browsing through a book should be fast. I don't see the need for a new format. Give me a reader which can read PDF and DJVU with a decent resolution and page build speed and I'm sold. It is definitely also a software issue because on my Ipod T
    • by fyngyrz (762201)

      The biggest challenge today with electronic texts is that page build needs to be fast.

      Yes, in order for real speed, convenience and maximum processing efficiency, we'll have to move to an advanced format like ASCII with embedded bitmap references. Possibly something as advanced as basic HTML. The basic technologies will become available in the future, perhaps around the 1970's or so, though you'll have to wait a few more years for HTML. You'll need at least a 4-bit processor running at 1 MHz to handle

    • by Homburg (213427)

      The biggest challenge today with electronic texts is that page build needs to be fast. PDF does not perform well

      I'm really not sure what you're talking about. Moving from one page to the next in a PDF takes no perceptible time at all.

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