Friday, October 2, 2009

eReaders To Come: Apple Tablet

Check out this image from Ten New Details on the Apple Tablet at, a website dedicated to all things iPod/Phone:

The image is meant to show how much bigger the screen on the forthcoming "tablet" device from Apple is than the current iPhone's.

Tablet device from Apple? Is it real? And is it an eBook reader?

Maybe, and maybe.

It looks like longstanding rumors — see Apple Tablet In October For $800, Says China Times — that Apple will introduce what I'll characterize as a "smart tablet" in the not-too-distant future are going to come true.

iLounge's article nicknames it an iPad. I wouldn't mind if Apple dubbed it an iSlate. It's already October 2009, so it looks like it will be introduced next year, not this.

Will it be an eBook reader? Yes and no.

Depending on whether or not it has the (perhaps mandatory, perhaps optional, perhaps unavailable) feature of phone connectivity via AT&T's 3G network, you could call it an iPhone or iPod Touch on steroids, with a screen that measures 10.7 inches diagonally to the iPhone's 3.5 inches. At over thrice the linear dimension, it may have over nine times the viewing area (seven times, iLounge says).

It so happens I have an old wooden slide rule (remember those?) hanging around on my desk that is exactly 10.7 inches long, and when I hold it up diagonally to my iPhone's screen I can see how much the iPhone will be dwarfed by the iSlate (as I'll keep calling it).

The iSlate will have a screen too small to display an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper full size ... but large enough to do so for, say, most of the so-called "trade" paperbacks I own. Almost all of my hardcover editions, though, would have to be scaled down just a tad.

So, used as an eBook reader, the iSlate would allow viewing of a full printed page from just about any popular book at no, or very little, reduction in size. (Bigger textbooks would need additional squeezing, zooming-sliding-scrolling, or text reflowing.)

But iSlate would be an all-purpose device, not just a book reader. It looks like it will run the same OS that the iPhone uses — not the Mac OS — and therefore the same iPhone/iTouch apps, including eBook readers (see iPhone as eReader).

iSlate, if it arrives, would have the same color touchscreen technology as the iPhone/iTouch; no physical keyboard, but a virtual one with bigger keys; and the ability to orient it for portrait or landscape viewing. In short, everything the iPhone has, except maybe the ability to use it as a phone. (What about as a camera? Who knows?)

So all current iPhone/iTouch eBook reader apps should work fine on it!

But, no, Apple apparently has no intention of making a big deal of its status as a potential "Kindle killer." It looks like the iTunes Store isn't going to sell eBooks for the iSlate. As Apple Not Building An 'iTunes For e-Books' says, "It's clearer now ... that Apple will help publishers and e-book vendors sell their wares on the new devices — and not that Apple is planning to enter the e-book sales industry itself."

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