Where is the Kindle’s sister product?
Despite valid criticism of the Kindle’s obtrusive page flipping buttons and other seemingly thrown-together hardware features, the Kindle is a great product for avid readers, and I am looking forward to purchasing the next generation Kindle (if there are sufficient improvements and a good drop in price).
What I want to know is, where is the Kindle for authors, not just readers?
I have been an aspiring author for quite some time now, and one of the challenges I struggle with is the hardware I use for writing my material. I tried an old typewriter, but most of the writing I was doing needed to be prepared to go digital, so paper was out. Then I tried using my laptop, but that is far too expensive and heavy a tool to be practical on the run, with strict requirements for ventilation and a heavy drain on the battery while the screen is lit up.
I looked far and wide on the internet, and found that NOBODY is producing an inexpensive, digitally oriented word processor for authors who need a portable, digital writing tool. There is a new generation of UMPCs and Linux laptops that range in price from $200 to $400, and I am thinking of going with one of them, but their battery life is still only three hours or so, they still require a back light for the LCD screen, and they are so compact that the keyboard is useless for long periods of typing.
Part of my specialty is my familiarity with current technologies. I learned of digital e-ink long before the first products began popping up with the technology. I am familiar with its numerous benefits (especially for products like the Kindle) as well as some of its drawbacks (like a frustratingly slow refresh rate). It’s main strength, though, is the fact that it only requires a charge to change the display, not to display content. I have also been an avid follower of OLED technology, which will one day replace all portable device screens because it offers all of the advantages of our current LCD screen technology, without the need for a back light, so it draws considerably less power, and displays crisper, more vibrant images.
I bring this up because I think bloggers and authors of all kinds in our digital world would benefit from a power-sipping device like the Kindle for use in a variety of environments and situations without fear of having to quit writing in three hours because the batteries will die, or fear of overheating the processor because it’s sitting in their lap.
The main features an author would look for in such a product would be:
* battery life (the screen technology would play the largest role in such a product)
* portability (full sized keyboard, but smaller than an average laptop, and well built)
* simplicity of use (no 30 second boot up time, not too many complicated features)
* cost (less than a full laptop – the cost of the Kindle, $400, would be permissible)
Obviously, the product would need to have a well developed word processor on board (check with the folks at http://www.openoffice.org for a free, Microsoft Office compatible office suite with a very good word processor and other tools, or a partnership with GoogleDocs could be considered), with a built in and extensive dictionary and thesaurus. Some additional features could include:
* access to and compatibility with Amazon’s CreateSpace and Digital Text Platform for formatting and publishing completed works directly
* access to Wikipedia.org and other research sites
* access to popular blogging sites to post to the users’ blogs directly
* ability to receive images/text from an e-mail account and/or SD card for inclusion in the document
* ability to send to an e-mail account or save to SD cards for transfer to another computer for further editing/formatting
* Whispernet AND WiFi compatibility, for ensured connectivity and enhanced features in WiFi hotspots (like connecting directly to another WiFi device to transfer documents)
* ability to run on battery for extended use or run while charging, plugged in
* USB connection to computer for file transfers, charging, and perhaps even to become a peripheral component (it could become an external keyboard with an external display to search dictionaries and other resources thus freeing up screen real estate on the computer)
I understand that these are lofty expectations, but even at its most basic form, the digital, portable, simple word processor is an untapped market. There is no product currently meeting the unique needs of those of us who simply want to type on the go, anywhere anytime.
Amazon embodies everything there is about books and media. The CreateSpace service is a wonderful tool for authors, just as digital books are a wonderful feature of the digital, internet world for readers. Amazon stepped up and brought readers a simple, direct, unique and innovative product for taking their hobby on the road in an “anywhere anytime” kind of way. If Amazon were to deliver a similar tool for authors, both the reader and the author could rejoice. There would be a surge in content for the readers, and increased sales for Amazon.
If such a product were to become available, you can bet that I would buy it. I might even buy two. And I’d probably give them as Christmas gifts to my writing friends and family.
Just an idea.