Almost there with eBooks?

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The Times has a review of Sony's new Sony Reader. The bottom line seems to be that the underlying e-ink technology actually works but that the UI needs some work. I haven't seen the gizmo, but if that's true it's actually good news, since the UI seems primarily to be a usability engineering issue, which is something that's pretty well understood, especially by comparison to the e-ink stuff, which was never totally clear could be made good enough for prime time. It's actually a little surprising that the reviewer doesn't complain about screen resolution, which is 170 dpi, far less than on a printed page.

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Cell phones have lowered expectations for call quality, opening opportunities for VoIP; maybe standard screens have lowered expectations for resolution to the point they have created opportunities for ebooks.

The UI issues are particularly sad considering that many of them have been covered in years-old research prototypes and papers in this area:

http://www.fxpal.com/?p=xlibris

Yeah, the DPI is the limiting factor. I had a big talk once by the CEO of Creo, a printing company here in Vancouver. I believe he said something along the lines that most people (adults) couldn't see better than 150 - 200 DPI at a foot or so (i.e. holding it out in your hands). I'll see if I can find some of those papers.

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