Apple iPad latest in e-reading technology

Thursday, January 28, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:26 a.m. CST, Thursday, January 28, 2010
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COLUMBIA — After much hype and few facts surrounding Apple’s new product on the Internet, the Apple iPad was revealed to the public on Wednesday in San Francisco.

The iPad, which resembles and works like a large iPhone, is the latest addition to the e-reading arms race among Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and other companies.


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“Every company who develops e-readers and tablets took notice of this announcement today,” said Roger Fidler, program director for digital publishing at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and a national expert in e-readers.

The iPad is viewed by many in the publishing industry as a key to adapting to the digital age. Also, the tablet computer represents a significant difference from the e-reader, which doesn't have much capability beyond electronic reading.

In addition to e-reading, the color, touch-screen tablet computer can play movies and music and has a Web browser and video games. The common e-reader has black and white type, doesn't run the applications the iPad will and can't play video.

"The way Apple is marketing it, it's a new tool for Web browsering, communication with the e-mail capability, entertainment and reading," Fidler said.

In MU’s Walter Williams Hall, a watch party was held to see the unveiling. Attendees watched a live blog of the announcement projected onto a wall. The only other way to follow was to be there. While the dozen or so people there watched and debated, elsewhere on the MU campus, Apple's big news went unnoticed.

“I’ve never even heard of it until right now,” sophomore Maureen Roach said.

"I know of it, but I don't know much about it," junior Matt Burkart said. "I heard about it a couple of months ago from my dad."

Whether people knew what was going on, the announcement was important for some, particularly for those in publishing.

“It’s exciting for the industry,” said Brian Brooks, associate dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. “For the first time, we have an e-reading device for newspapers and magazines that has color. No one wants a black and white page anymore.”

Apple has an established relationship with the Journalism School, which includes strongly recommending students to use a Macbook and the iPod Touch. Brooks said it is too soon to say whether the school will eventually recommend use of the iPad for students.

There have been some concerns about the potential harm the iPad could cause; some newspaper publishers feared Apple could control their content the same way the company controls music content through iTunes.

“We definitely don’t want what happened to the music industry,” said Sean Reily, a Reynolds institute fellow who this year is studying business models that newspapers can implement for e-readers. “We want our customers with us.”

Apple now has iBooks, which functions like iTunes, but at least for now, there isn’t a similar shop for news publications. Reily said this is good news for the industry, freeing publishers from the constraints of an online store.

Many of the expectations for the iPad were met, but a big surprise for the device came when the price was announced. After many technology blogs and Web sites predicted the price of the iPad at just under $1,000, it was revealed the price of the iPad starts at $499, and its most expensive version is $829.

“The consumer is the one who ends up winning,” Reily said. “Apple has really raised the bar. It undercuts everything it is in competition with.”

The competition, products such as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook, is against a company that is known for its innovation and easy-to-use technology.

“I just know the iPad is suppose to make everything very easy,” said Forrest Dougan, a MU sophomore who describes himself as a bit of a tech geek. “It doesn’t take the same tech savvy to work it like other tablets.”

The iPad may have just been revealed, but there was a planned project from the 1990s that is considered similar to the iPad and other e-readers of today.

Fidler was the former laboratory head of Knight Ridder, a company that attempted to build the device back in 1994. The tablet was eventually scrapped because of technological issues.

After going through the abandoned Knight Ridder project and seeing other tablets fail, Fidler said he is glad that Apple finally accomplished a goal he hoped would be accomplished.

“It makes me happy to see it happen,” Fidler said. “There’s still ways to go, but the Apple iPad has certainly taken us in the right direction.”

The Wi-Fi model of the iPad is scheduled to ship in late March and the 3G model will ship in April.

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Eric Cox January 29, 2010 | 11:46 a.m.

What are you people talking about? E-reader is an electronic reader very vague, and already around, e-reading programs exist for almost every OS, there is a free Google e-reader you could install on any PC laptop or tablet. And unless your laptop is a luggable from the late 80's early 90's it has a color screen.

Now e-ink on the other hand is a newer technology that works kind of like an etch-a-sketch but with many shade of grey. The largest benefit to an e-reader with e-ink technology is it has no backlight and doesn't strain your eyes as much as a traditional backlite LCD screen. The iPad is not using e-ink display, because e-ink is great for simulating a paper page, but has a low refresh rate which makes it impractical for moving video. Also this is an announced product, not a release, other companies have already announced full color e-readers. Something I would expect an "expert on e-readers" to know.

Sorry Fiddler but it seems to me like you are far less an expert on e-readers and much more of an Apple fanboy. That pic of you dressed just like Steve Jobs only in a grey turtleneck instead of black kind of cements that opinion for me.

Just think how great life will be when Steve Jobs finally invents the iWheel, or iSliced Bread.

Hey but think of all the other things you can do with the iPad listen to music (all e-readers I have seen play music) surf the web, but just not at the same time. Maybe Steve could invent multi-tasking for his next iPad, something Amiga had basically perfected in the 80's.

Personally I want an e-reader with e-ink because I stare at a computer monitor all day and don't want to stare at another, which is what an iPad has a traditional LCD monitor.

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