October 3, 2022


It’s been 15 years since Amazon introduced the first Kindle, introducing many readers to the benefits of electronic paper (e-ink) technology, including long battery life and excellent sunlight readability.

Displays have improved over the years but still exhibit drawbacks such as screen ghosting, where a lighter version of the previous screen image can be seen in lighter parts of the display, and disruptive refresh, which involves removing an image from showing. At first the screen flashes shadow. Technology also took the hard way for coloring.

Two recently released e-paper tablets address these issues, managing contrast versus screen refresh speed, out-of-the-box Google Play compatibility, stylus support, and the latest in E Ink’s color technology called the Kaleido Plus. Offers multiple modes.

Nova Air C: Ultimate Digital Notepad

The Nova Air C comes from Onyx Boox, which offers the industry’s widest range of e-readers and e-paper tablets – even if one excludes only its China-based products.

The Onyx Boox portfolio ranges in size from 6″ to 13.3″ and includes two E Ink-based monitors under its Mira brand. Its products consistently showcase thoughtful designs, attractive packaging and smartly designed accessories.

For example, Onyx Books offers a keyboard folio for its 10.3″ devices that makes it the closest thing to a true E Ink laptop today (a product the company released at a 2017 trade fair but canceled). It also offers a cover that adds page-turning buttons for e-reading apps. Indeed, one of the advantages of Android-based e-paper tablets is that they offer the Kindle’s screen aesthetic, allowing you to choose from a wider range of digital bookstores.

While most companies in the e-paper tablet space have yet to ship a color product, the Nova Air Sea is another entrant from the Onyx Books that includes improved color and grayscale uniformity.

Nova Air Sea E-Reader by Onyx Books

Nova Air Sea E-Reader (Image Credit: Onyx Books)

Like other Onyx Books products, the Nova Air C interface is marked by a “function tab” that appears on the left side of the display by default. These launch a less-than-useful store full of public domain tasks and a library to organize them, a basic file manager, and an exceptionally full-featured note-taking app.

Working with the product’s comprehensive, button-free stylus, the app supports multiple page sizes, adding and deleting pages and layers, inserting images, shapes, and recordings, up to 5GB of free cloud syncing, and handwriting support. In two ways- text. You can also set up multiple pens and brushes and choose from three different erasing modes.

The Apps section includes an App Store that provides some of the basics, taken from the Internet. However, the device supports the full breadth of Google Play and Android-style navigation including settings and notification access from the swipe-down notification shade; The Back, Home, and App Switch functions can be accessed by swiping up from the left, middle, and right sides of the bottom of the screen, respectively.

Alternatively, a circle floating over other app interfaces — similar to those used by Android screen-recording applications — pops out controls for features like switching apps, taking screenshots, and powering off.

All told, the Nova Air Sea is a mix of the best that E Ink has to offer: an excellent note-taking app for those looking for an alternative to Android apps like Nebo or Noteshelf, and a wide range of Google apps. have access to. Via Google Play—all in one lightweight, well-accessorized package.

Bigme Inknote Color: E-Paper Power

Onyx Books isn’t the only vendor to bring color to earlier monochrome slates using E Ink and similar technologies such as Digital Electronic Slurry (DES). The latter has been used so far in outright crowdfunded products from Rinkstone and mini-laptop seller Topjoy; Both have faced lengthy shipping delays from their original November 2021 target.

While more established vendor BigMe has used the crowdfunding route for its Inknote color device, it has used the same Kaleido Plus color technology used for the Nova Air C. In fact, the interface of the product is very similar to Onyx Books and others. e-paper tablet, even including an optional floating navigational control and lock screen illustration in the same style.

Upon launch, you are presented with a shelf similar to icons on the left that includes Meeting Records, Offline Books, and Storage. However, Bigme offers more customization options, including being able to dock Android apps there. This is especially useful because the company hasn’t (yet) implemented alphabetical ordering for Android apps as on Onyx Books.

BigMe partnered with Good eReader – a provider of news and reviews about e-paper devices and an online store on product designs that are hard to find in the US.

As Good e-reader’s impressive review notes, the Inknote Color is the first color E Ink product with an A5-sized display. The larger size makes it better suited for reading and annotating PDFs, as well as content like web pages, magazines, sheet music, and comics.

Similar to other larger E Ink-based devices, such as Kobo’s Ellipsa, the Inknote Color has a relatively thin bezel except for a notably wide bezel on the left margin.

Bigme Inknote Color E-Ink Tablet

Bigme Inknote Color E-Ink Tablet (Image Credit: Bigme)

Beyond color, the tablet offers hardware features that have rarely, ever, been seen before in such a product. This includes:

  • 5MP front and 8MP rear cameras that can be used to take a quick profile photo or scan a document with integrated OCR which works well;
  • A large (but inadvertently very easy to detach) active stylus with three buttons, unlike the button-free version on the Onyx Books;
  • Miracast-based screen-casting — a great feature for when you want to take some video that will overwhelm the E Ink display; And
  • A fingerprint reader – although this requires a Bigme Cloud account to set up.

Inknote Color also revives that microSD slot, which has been seen to lack vendor support, and supports 4G internet access, but not in the US

A technical tour de force for the category, the BigMe InkNote Color caters to those who want the biggest Color E Ink tablet available, specifically for consuming and annotating content transferred through a range of Android apps. And the device’s image and audio is recognized by text recognition applications.

E-paper tablets have made great strides in areas such as refresh rate and color support. However, their more mainstream competitors from companies such as Apple, Lenovo and Samsung have progressed into e-paper sweet spots, such as daylight readability and longer battery life, while offering great advantages in color reproduction.

E-paper tablets, then, are better optimized for prolonged reading, note-taking or annotation versus popular media-focused tablet activities such as playing games and watching videos. Products like the Inknote Color and Nova Air C don’t come close to challenging the iPad for those tasks.

However, with Google Play support and an improved color story, these devices allow more penetration into applications like email, web browsing, and messaging—that is, if you want to defy their promise of a less-distracting experience.

Rubin’s Review: Sherpa 100 Series Power Bank

Goal Zero was a pioneer in high capacity portable power products with AC outlets sold under the Yeti brand. These were useful for applications ranging from camping to emergency power. However, its smaller products, sold under the Sherpa brand, underperformed to stand out in the USB-based charging crowd.

Since the first Sherpa products, we’ve seen a flood of unnamed brands in the portable power space. Additionally, USB-C has offered a more versatile and popular charging standard, with its higher-wattage power delivery option.

In response, Goal Zero’s latest 95 kWh Sherpa power banks, the 100PD, which delivers up to 100 watts via USB-C power delivery, and the 100AC which offers the same in addition to a 100-watt AC outlet, while also standing out Covering each base and providing exceptional control over their features.

Target Zero Power Bank, 100PD and 100AC

The Sherpa 100PD (pictured left) and Sherpa 100AC power banks offer 95 watt-hours of portable, airline-approved charging. (image credits: Target Zero)

While both the products are large to accommodate their high capacity, the AC-based product is smaller for its category. Both include informative displays tracking charge level, incoming and outgoing wattage, and other details.

More power banks are now smartly taking advantage of USB-C PDs to charge themselves as well as other products, reducing the need for a separate AC adapter. Sherpas implement this very well, with switches on the back specifying input, output, or port for automatic detection; A subtle colored light ring around the port glows blue or green to reflect this.

The Sherpa 100 family of products support Qi-based charging, and, in keeping with the company’s heritage, they are sturdily built—though not water-resistant; The 100AC includes a ventilation hole on its side. Nevertheless, the products represent how a company can reclaim premium status, even in a category that has seen widespread commoditization.

Currently, the Sherpa 100PD is priced at $199.99 and the Sherpa 100AC is $299.99 at Goal Zero.

A lot of work is going on creating the next generation of the web. Much of this is centered on the concept that instead of traditional web pages, we will have a vastly different experience that is far more immersive. Let’s call it “web 3D”.

I had the chance to speak with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang who shared his thoughts on Web 3D. While it mixes elements of the metaverse, it is more tied to the AI ​​implementation that will propel the next generation of the web than a simulation of the reality of a fast fund on that new web.

vague? You are not alone, let me try to settle this concept.

Then we’ll look at my product of the week, a very different Amazon Kindle called the Scrib. It shows promise but needs some changes to be a great product.

AI propels the next generation web

Interestingly, I think Microsoft’s Halo game series got it right because Cortana, Microsoft’s fictional AI universal interface, is closest to what Huang hinted at about the future of the web.

In the game and TV series “Halo”, Cortana is the one that Master Chief talks to in order to access the technology around him. Sadly, even though prototypes like the one in this YouTube video have been created, Microsoft has yet to take Cortana to where it might be.

Right now, Cortana lags behind both Apple’s digital assistant and Google Assistant.

Huang believes that the AI ​​front end will become a reality with the next generation of the web. You will be able to design your own AI interface or have the possibility to license an already created image and personality from various providers as they step up to the occasion.

For example, if you want the AI ​​to look like your perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, you can initially describe what you want for an interface and based on the AI ​​training that AI to look like A design will do.

Alternatively—and this is not mutually exclusive—it may design it based on your known interests, from the cookies and web posts you make during your life. Or you can choose a character from a movie or an actor, which will come with a recurring fee that, in character, will become that personal interface.

Imagine having Black Widow or Thor as your personal guide to a world of information. They’ll behave just like they do in the “Avenger” movies and give you the information you’re looking for. Instead of viewing a web page, you’ll see your chosen digital assistant magically unfolding Metaverse elements to address your questions.

Search in Metaverse Experience

Discovery as we know it will change too.

For example, when looking for a new car, you can visit various manufacturers’ websites and explore options. But in the future, you can instead say “What car should I buy now?” And, based on what the AI ​​knows about you, or how you answer questions about your lifestyle, it will provide its recommendation and pull you into a metaverse experience where you test-drive the car virtually. Which is based on the choices that the AI ​​makes you think. I like.

During this virtual drive, it will add other options that you might like, and you will be able to express your interest, or lack thereof, to arrive at the final option. In the end, it will recommend where you should buy your car, whichever approach is adapted whether you value things like low prices or good service. These options will include both new and used offerings, based on what AI knows about your preferences.

The time and effort spent on the project will be massively reduced, while your satisfaction, assuming you have accurate AI information, is maximized. Over time, this web 3D interface will become a companion and trusted friend more than anything you’ve ever seen on the web.

Once it reaches critical mass, care must be taken to ensure that the interests of a political party, vendor or bad actor are not compromised in favor.

This last one is important. It may turn out that instead of being as free as in today’s browsers, the interface ends up being a paid service to ensure that no other entity can take advantage of your trust, as you will be held accountable against this new There is ample opportunity to use the interface. Ensuring that this will not happen should be more of a focus than the present.

wrapping up

According to Huang, the future of this front end – call it the next generation browser – is an increasingly photorealistic avatar based on your personal preferences and interests; One who can behave in character when needed; And one that will offer more focused options and a far more personalized web experience.

Perhaps we should talk more about the next generation of the web in its visual aspects, the 3D part, and its behavioral aspects, the “transhumanist web”. Something to noodle this week.

Technical Product of the Week

kindle scribe

I’ve been using Kindles since they were first released. I had both a keyboard and a free cellular connection.

They’ve proven to be interesting products when traveling, have all-day battery life, and perform better in the sun than LCD-based tablets or smartphones. Some are water resistant, allowing you to use them during water recreation activities. For example, when I swim on the river near my house, I’ll bring a water-resistant Kindle with me so I can read during the boring parts (for me, the whole float is the boring part).

But they’ve always been limited to being able to read books and some digital files (you can email .pdf files to Amazon for your Kindle). That just changed with the new Kindle scribe. It’s similar in size to the 10-inch Amazon Fire tablet and allows you to mark up the documents and books you’re reading.

While the Kindle scribe is still a reading-focused product, this latest version has optional pens that can be used to draw or comment on the things you’re reviewing and this, as do most similar products. , will allow you to make pictures if it interests you.

Kindle scribe for reading and writing, 300ppi Paperwhite display with basic pen

Kindle scribe (Image credit: Amazon)

As with all Kindles, it goes further with an e-paper display that works well in sunlight, and the larger size means you can finerly adjust the font to address vision problems, Could potentially remove the need for reading glasses for people who have only minor vision loss.

The drawbacks limiting the product are that it doesn’t currently support magazine or newspaper subscriptions, it doesn’t play music (probably better left to your smartphone anyway), and, as noted But the refresh rate is too low for video technology. It currently doesn’t even email.

It has a web browser, but that browser does not display web pages as intended. Instead, it lists stories vertically like a smartphone with a smaller screen. Actually, using it gives you many page load problems. For example, I couldn’t bring up Office 365 or Outlook Web sites.

Lastly, it doesn’t support handwriting conversion to text, making it less useful for note-taking than other products that have this functionality, but I expect it to improve as the product matures.

The person who will appreciate this product the most is one who wants a larger readership and sometimes needs to mark up documents as part of the editing or review process. If you want a more capable tablet, the Amazon Fire tablet is one of the best values ​​on the market, but it won’t work as well outdoors, nor does it have anywhere near the battery life that the Kindle Scribd offers.

For the right person, a Kindle scribe can be a godsend. But for most, the Amazon Fire tablet is likely to be the better overall choice. In any case, the new Kindle scribe tablet is my product of the week. At $339, it’s a good value that I expect will get better over time.

Kindle scribe will be released on November 30. You can pre-order it on Amazon now.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.