Digital Photo frames. A phenomenon that really should have taken off, and clocked in much more numbers in sales than it really has, but hasn't. My neighboring analog photo studio is still doing great business, with his 6 by 4 prints. What really happened to the digital frames?

Anyways, in the last couple of months our country has seen a little press on the Amazon Kindle, signifying the entry of the ebook reader. In theory it’s a novel concept, basically it’s a holder of all your digital copies of books and other text information, essentially in black and white. The technology used to display info is called E Ink, made by the E Ink Corporation, started in the late nineties.

The film E Ink uses is made of thin strands of microcapsules. Each of these have positively charged white particles and negatively charged black ones. When an electric field is applied, the corresponding particles move up to the surface, thus white parts are displayed by white particles and vice versa, as a result about 8 shades of grey can be distinguished and represented for text. What is the advantage of this? This technology is extremely low on power consumption, allowing the readers to stay on that long. After all a person can actually spend a good 7-8 hours absorbed in a book.

Customers have Wi-Fi access and concepts like Instant Bookstore, enabling readers to buy books from an online database. Besides the Kindle, globally available brands include Barnes and Noble’s Nook, the Sony Reader, Plastic Logic, Hanvon (available in Lamington road, Mumbai) and many more.

The common consensus is that eReaders will replace all forms of paper. A day will come when there will be flexible eReaders, and the web will be omnipresent, thus enabling the user to receive, share, buy, view all their documents on it, right from a newspaper delivered everyday to the reader, to a monthly magazine subscription to a company's earning report, all available at the touch of a button (on the eReader’s chassis). Touch screen eReaders will allow the user to sign solving the problem of authenticity and privacy.

All that seems fine and predictable but then what about the new IN thing this CES 2010? Slates? They too claim to have ample battery life, and can easily replace paper. Of course they are much more than just paper; they will be your PC screen in your hand. There is a school of people who believe that eBook readers will die the fate of Digital Photo frames, and will be replaced by super thin tablets. As of now there is not enough evidence to take a side on that argument; I just know one thing for a fact, the e ink technology is much better on the eyes, as it’s a reflective technology meaning no light coming straight at you. Watching the illuminated screen of a tablet for 8 hours continuous is not my idea of relaxation.

Secondly the iPod is a success as it’s backed by the iTunes store. How much ever we hate DRM, it works, and most regular (read non tech savvy) users will go on and buy an MP3 player from the store, so then why not a book? Of course this problem becomes India Specific as the demographic is totally different here. Still, in my opinion I feel the eReader concept will not die, and the eInk technology is quite a nice one at that.

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