Text Only Computer Book

There's lots of stuff to read online. It just sucks to read off a screen! Staring at a lightbulb is hard on my eyes. You know what else sucks? Wasting paper by printing it out.

All you computer designers out there: I need you to make a new type of laptop computer. One that is portable, small and uses very little energy. A reading computer.

A new type of laptop computer that is:

  • About the size of an open paper-back book
  • About the weight of a paper-back book
  • Is easy on the eyes

I heard they are working on e-book technology that is like a refined version of a Magna-Doodle.
Instead of being lit up, the image shows up mechanically: the electronic signal calls little flecks of metal to the surface of the screen, and they stay there because of static electricity or something.

It uses less power because once the image is displayed, no electricity is required to keep it displayed.

This is a reading book. The screen will be black and white. Probably low resolution. But that doesn't matter. The purpose is so you can lie in bed and read stuff off the internet. Or download stuff to read later. This will be way more affordable than a real laptop because less RAM and less storage space is needed.

Let's review how awesome this idea is:

  • Less power use
  • Less paper use
  • Hand-held
  • Portable
  • Affordable
  • Encourages literacy
That last bullet point is important. Think of how these reading laptops could be used in an academic setting. Each student could have one with all of their textbooks loaded on it. They could even use it in the classroom, and you wouldn't have to worry that they will be swapping photos on facebook or looking at videos on youtube because the resolution of the little B&W screen isn't even good enough for photos or video! Text only.

Update: It looks like this is another of "my inventions that someone has already invented." But I'm not too surprised because I knew they were working on such devices anyway.
"In January 2007, the Dutch specialist in e-Paper edupaper.nl started a pilot project in a secondary school in Maastricht, using e-Paper as digital schoolbooks to reduce costs and students' daily burden of books."

From: Wikipedia's article on electronic paper.

There are a few different eBooks available out there. Some of them even include a robot-voice reader! But in general I'm a little disappointed with the options. None of them are very low cost. They all seem to work kinda like iTunes: you download the books you want for a couple dollars. Pretty useful, though. I'll wait a few generations before purchasing one.

As far as I can tell, all the options are just for eBooks. What I want is the whole internet available on this thing.

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