May 282011

There seems to be trend developing for ebook readers to embrace infrared touch screen technology. First it was Sony in September 2010 with the release of three ereaders: PRS 350, PRS 650 and PRS 950. Then, in May 2011, Barnes and Noble released the Nook Simple Touch Reader and Kobo released the Kobo Touch ereader. Just looking at the names of these devices tells us the both Barnes and Noble and Kobe believe that “Touch” is going please buyers of ebook readers.

Let’s face it. Touch screen is sexy. It promises:

  • elimination of the tiny and awkward qwerty keyboard, enabling reduction of the physical size of the device.
  • intuitive commanding of the gadget.
  • fast selection of displayed item.
  • hand drawn annotation text and drawings.

However, there are some drawbacks

  • Finger prints on the screen that degrades the display image.
  • Gestures to turn pages using one hand are difficult if not impossible. However when ereader manufactures take on the cost of touchscreen displays they sometimes try to save cost by replacing physical button with touch screen gestures. The Nook Simple Touch Reader and Kobo Touch eReader are examples of this. Ideally page turn buttons should remain on the ereader as on the Sony PRS 350, 650, and 950.

Overall, we think that touch screen capability on dedicated ebook readers is a good thing.

With Sony, Barnes and Noble, and Nook all moving to a touch screen function on their latest releases of ereaders, Amazon is looking a little bit tardy.

Another thing to note is that all the recent touch screen ereaders use zForce infrared touch screens licensed by Neonode.

We know that Amazon has been pondering on a future touch screen Kindle for over a year now. In February 2010 Amazon bought TouchCo, a resistive touch screen technology company, and merged it with its Kindle development team – see Amazon Buys Touch-Screen Start-Up to Revamp Kindle? Amazon would surely like to use proprietary technology to increase the competitive position of the Kindle ereader yet further. However, TouchCo would have really have to pull off something amazing to bring the old resistive touch screen technology up to the level of the zForce infrared screen technology.

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  2 Responses to “A zForce To Be Reckoned By Amazon Kindle”

  1. I had a Sony PRS-350 I too could do a one hand page turn. I have small hands and it wasn’t very hard to turn the pages. I agree tho that having the turn buttons also is very good. As for fingerprints I really never noticed them unless I held the reader a certain way. They never interferred with my reading. I had mine for 9 months and the stylus hadn’t made any scratches on the screen and i took a lot of notes.

    The reason I no longer have the 350 is that it began freezing up and after doing all the troubleshooting I had to turn it in to the warranty company hope to get a new one soon.

  2. I own a Sony PRS-650 and disagree with the statement that it’s hard to do turn page gestures with one hand. you can hold the device such that your thumb is completely free and with the thumb you can swipe more then double the distance you need to flip the page. and yes fingerprints are on the screen but you can wipe those off.

    What I am worried about though and mine is only just new so I don’t know yet is whether or not the stylus will scratch over time. We’ll see, I certainly hope not.

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