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iamthemob's avatar

Do you think tablet technology will make e-readers obsolete?

Asked by iamthemob (17121 points ) September 15th, 2010

My personal feeling is no – I think they occupy different parts of the market. Although multitasking is the rage (and should be), dedicated devices will still be useful. Considering that e-ink is easier on the eyes for reading, and that the price point of these readers has (and likely will) continue to drop, I think that they can maintain market position. I feel like the issue is much the same as the question of whether tablet technology can replace iPods and similar devices.

Anyone else?

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19 Answers

robmandu's avatar

It’s all about the display and portability.

In Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, he describes a near-future where people just carry around “paper”. It looks and apparently feels much like the paper we have today, but it’s really a souped up, fancy wireless computer that accepts touch, gesture, and pen-based inputs from the user. It connects to ubiquitous wifi and allows the user to communicate securely with his personal contacts, crunch numbers, watch video, and read the news.

Much like we treat paper today, this future “paper” is a commodity item that the user simply balls up (securely wiping all trace of activity from the device) and throws in the trash when done.

So… I think that this battle between tablets and e-readers is a bit of a red herring. Both concepts embody some level of compromise today. I’m optimistic that the future holds improved solutions that should remove those compromises and offer better utility.

iamthemob's avatar

Alright – edit then – obsolete in the near/foreseeable future.

(I’ll always keep my paper books, dernit).

Zaku's avatar

I think there are probably two or more markets that overlap, and in the overlap they’ll compete on prices and features.

Personally, I want a light computer with a screen that can be read easily in direct sunlight (ok if black and white), a full physical keyboard, and a long battery life, with the ability to run a code editor or at least a text editor, and any other abilities are a bonus.

I don’t expect to ever buy a book reader, because I’d rather read a physical book and I dislike and avoid participating in attempts to force significant license fees onto content like books. If the display were really good though, I might use one, especially if it were on the computer I mentioned above which I don’t think exists yet.

iamthemob's avatar

@Zaku – the licensing fees is an interesting issue I hadn’t considered.

MeinTeil's avatar

Not as long as there are ‘uuh, im a book person’ snobs.

Austinlad's avatar

The speed and ways in which technology is evolving, I’m betting something will come along that will replace them both.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I sure hope not because my new Kindle 3 is a beautiful device.

SundayKittens's avatar

I thought they were the same thing??

crazyivan's avatar

Nothing is ever made obsolete my competing technology, it is just made cheaper and harder to find.

Fred931's avatar

Old people who don’t understand Apple will stick to e-readers, but all the cool kids have to have the more capable device, so the shinier iFad makes the cut for them.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Everything electronic is out of date in 5–7 years. 5 years from now we will laugh at the iPad. “Can you imagine? It was only WiFi 802.11 n capable! 3G! Ha! Only 64 GB with a 1 GHz processor. Stone age!”

In 5 years we will be at 5G downloading 20 x faster. You won’t buy anything with less than a Terabyte of storage.
I don’t know what the next design will be. However, I do know that it will make whaterever you own today look like a fossil.

Except for your bound books. They will still be around.

rawrgrr's avatar

I think there will be a reasonably sized group of people that will love their e-readers. But I think that most people who want to do more than that like email, news, etc will probably decide on buying a tablet instead.

The main difference is the display and the battery. The new Kindle battery lasts up to a month! It all depends on you.

rexpresso's avatar

e-readers will only be made obsolete by digital disposable napkins

Pistol's avatar

E-readers have their niche in the market carved out pretty well for them. I don’t think they are going any where for a while at least… Maybe in a few years they will come out with something that combines the two.

I hate being on my computer for a long time because my eyes end up very tired and I am very prone to headaches. I would love a tablet that uses an e-ink-esque screen to eliminate eye strain but is capable of doing more complex tasks, i.e. email, internet browsing, social networking, IM, etc.

If a need is great enough, eventually it will be filled. I just don’t know how hard pressed the industry is to make such a product.

jerv's avatar

Let me put it this way; most of my reading is on a smartphone, a full-blown laptop, or a stack of dead trees. While there are enough people out there that will spend $$$ on a severely limited single-purpose gadget to make them commercial viable, I am not one of them.
I prefer my stuff to be either cheap or multi-purpose, and e-readers are neither. As I am far from unique in that regard, I see laptops sticking around for quite a while. Tablets will have their niche since they are versatile, but I see the e-reader fading away fairly soon.

crazyivan's avatar

As counterintuitive as it seems, outside of the pocket technology tends to diversify and be more ‘single use’. The swiss-army-gadget notions of tablets, etc. is still a bit sketchy.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

I read in a magazine that talked about if magazines would go out of business because of new technology. The quote at the bottom was, “Did instant coffee kill coffee?” So I don’t think e-readers will be obsolete after a while, because they’ve already established a place in the market

thomestayler's avatar

Perhaps, yes that Tablet Technology’s innovation is because reading ebooks on large display. It’s quite impressive gadget for professional use as well.

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