According to Frontier Channel’s “Future Wants” column in August 2004, the future “truly successful eBook reader” will include:
- a color display;
- the ability to view images and perhaps video;
- the ability to play music and read at the same time;
- accessibility features such as voice readback of text for the blind; and
- sharing features.
Apple announced today the release of their iPod Photo, an iPod with a 220×176-pixel, 65,536 color LCD display, the ability to view images (in addition to its original ability to play music), and the ability to play a slide show accompanied by music on a TV or projector.
Steve Jobs said today that bringing video to the iPod is not a current goal as there is little content and a lack of consumer interest. However, some of Apple’s competitors are beginning to add video playback to their media players. It is only a matter of time before a video iPod becomes available.
None of the companies are discussing eBooks (although most media devices now supports audiobooks), but you should expect advanced support for eBooks very soon. Only resolution issues are holding back the flood of text from books, novels and magazines into digital formats, and screen technology will continue to improve over the next few years. In fact, Hewlett-Packard just demonstrated a prototype display using new LCD technology that they expect will match the high quality and resolution of glossy magazines and book text within five years. They expect the form factors of these incredible displays to range from the size of a magazine up to poster and billboard sizes. Other companies are also working on high-resolution screen technologies. By the time 2010 roll around, almost all displays for cellphones, cameras, media players, eBook readers, televisions, other consumer electronics, computers, walls and billboards should surpass the highest quality resolution available on glossy paper today. The human eye will eat up this future eye candy and a new baseline of technology will become the foundation for the next round of technological advance.
The iPod Photo comes in two sizes, a 40GB model for US$499 and a 60GB model for US$599.