eReaders – I want a combination of Apple’s iBook and Google’s eBook

When Apple’s iBook came out a while ago I was pretty excited because the reader application looked great.  The library allows you to store PDFs as well as books.  While reading you can copy selected sections and look them up in a dictionary, highlight (in yellow) and even annotate the text you were reading.  The highlighting and annotating is wonderful for people like me who consider reading only useful when they have a pen or pencil in their hands.  The drag with Apple’s iBook, though, is that it’s stuck on the iPhone or iPad.  You can’t easily read your books on your computer.

Google’s new eBook, however, stores your books in the cloud, so it’s all about portability.  You can read from any device that supports a browser, Android marketplace, or Apple App Store.  But, the reader software is painfully limited to (gasp!) reading.

What I want is a combination of Apple’s iBook and Google’s eBook.  I want my content always available from any device I connect to the Internet, but I also want to be able to manipulate it how ever I want.  I’m pretty demanding that way.  It’s sort of perplexing that Google, with it’s TONS of catalogued information, didn’t integrate their other services with eBook.  I’m surprised that I can’t do a Google search based off of selected text in an eBook.  Seems pretty elementary.  Google also owns Blogger.  Why can’t I blog about my eBooks from the reader app? And the list could go on for quite some time.

Who will be the first to integrate Facebook and Twitter with eReaders?  Then we’ll know e and i Books have hit the mainstream.

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All I want for Christmas is a tactile feedback dual touch screen tablet computer

Some posts I’ve seen recently have me wondering if the evolutionary paths of tablets and laptops may eventually merge into a sort of hybrid device.

Exhibit A: I’ve often thought that it would be cool if a touchscreen could modify its shape a little bit to provide tactile feedback.  What is one of the common complaints about typing on an iPhone?  There’s no real keyboard with physical buttons, so you can’t feel the keys you’re typing on.  But if you were able to develop a screen that was capable of moving up and down just a little bit around specific portions of the screen then you could produce a custom interactive keyboard on demand with real, tactile buttons.  New Scientist reports that Microsoft just patented a new way of making tactile touchscreens possible.

Exhibit B: Acer recently unveiled the Iconia, a dual screen tablet PC.  There’s also the Toshiba Libretto.  These are essentially two tablets put together with a hinge.  Or a laptop that has replaced its keyboard with a touchscreen.  I guess it depends on how you look at it.  But, it seems that so far manufacturers view it as a modification of the laptop.  Engaget’s review of the Libretto identified many of the possibilities with this new screen, but the Libretto’s implementation left them wondering “. . . what exactly are you supposed to use this thing for?”  It seems from the screen shots that the user interface designers were still pretty trapped in the laptop paradigm.  It’s clear that there is much untapped potential in this platform.

Acer iconia - dual-screen tablet, 3d on the way?
Acer’s Iconia

Now let’s put it all together.  If done well, you could have the best of a tablet and the best of a laptop, plus some more all in one.
Orient the device one way and you have a laptop, with a fully functional keyboard presenting itself on the bottom.  Same as the Iconia seen above, except this time you can feel the individual keys.  Orient the device another way and you’ve got a book.  A great eReader form factor that allows you to view both pages of a book simultaneously.  Lay the device out flat and you get a nice, big tablet.  Just imagine the innovations in user interface design that could be possible.

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