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Saturday, 24 April 2021

Milestone e-readers

There have been many E-Ink e-readers over the years, but few can be described as a milestone. While not exhaustive, below is a list of e-readers that can be characterised as trendsetting devices:  

Sony Librie: The Sony Librie EBR-100EP - the first commercial E-Ink e-reader - was released in Japan in 2004. In my view, it set a negative trend by making the 6-inches size the industry standard.

Kindle Keyboard: The Kindle Keyboard represented something innovative. It had the default 6-inches screen but included a physical keyboard, five-way controller and speakers for reading text. With the Kindle Keyboard, Amazon popularised the e-reader due to its affordable price and sleek design. 

Onyx Boox M92: Released in November 2011, the Boox M92 was one of the earlier note-taking e-readers. The 9.7-inches E-Ink Pearl screen was only 155PPI. It also didn't support finger touch – it was necessary to use the included stylus to interact with the screen. The M92 also had side buttons to turn pages. It was an inadequate device in many ways - e.g., the user was restricted to one font - but it did set the trend for e-readers with note-taking capabilities.

Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight: In April 2012, Barnes & Noble released an e-reader with a front light. The front light wasn't even, but the idea became a trend as other vendors followed. Amazon shortly after released the first generation of the Kindle Paperwhite.  

Kobo Aura H20: Released in late 2014, the Kobo Aura H20 was the first waterproof e-reader. At the time, it also had a novel larger 6.8-inches screen. Being expectedly behind, Amazon released its first waterproof e-reader - the Oasis 2 - in late 2017.  

Kobo Aura One: In August 2016, Kobo announced the Aura One. The 7.8-inches Aura One supported warm lighting. Vendors - whether the smaller niche ones or bigger ones like Amazon - followed by releasing e-readers with warm lighting. However, we had to wait until 2019 for Amazon to finally release an e-reader - the Oasis 3 - with warm lighting. 

Onyx Boox Note Pro: The note-taking e-reader finally matured with the Onyx Boox Note Pro (released in 2019). Before the Note Pro, Onyx Boox released 9.7-inches - 10.3-inches note-taking e-readers, but they had different drawbacks. For example, the Boox Note had no front light and no glass cover layer - the absence of a toughened glass layer meant it was prone to scratching with stylus input. The Boox Note Plus came after the Note but similarly had no front light. Other than mature software, the Note Pro also had warm lighting, 64GB storage and 4GB RAM. In the niche world of note-taking e-readers, Boyue e-readers would seek to offer similar hardware features at lower cost but were let down by immature software.

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