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.