Notes on a better reader design.
Most ebook readers are designed as a scaled down computer. They have computer-like energy needs and software complexity. A better concept would be to build a ebook reader as a scaled up calculator.
I have a 15 year old solar powered calculator. Still works perfectly, and uses a small solar cell for electricity. It doesn't do anything but calculator functions. No batteries, no plug-ins, no back light, just the overhead light system and should last for another 50 years unless I drop it.
With the advent of low-energy e-ink technology, imagine an ebook reader with a clamshell cover instead of a leather (or plastic) cover. When you open it, the non e-ink side is just a set of solar cells that provide the electricity for the device. Books should be inserted by flash card memory in a slot in the top. Add a few button for book selection and page turning and you're done. The internal software should consist of only the control programs to read the flash card and understand standard folder layout, drive the e-ink screen, and translate a few book types. Say, .txt, .rtf, and .HTML. Maybe display a JPEG (if there is enough electricity to do so.)
Nothing else. No Microsoft operating system. No Linux. No note taking. No USB connector, battery, battery charger, keyboard adapter, internal file storage, MP3 player, video player, ect.
To do this would require a simple, slow, ultra low-power cpu chip, a small ram buffer (256 Kb), and the system software on low-powered ROM. The whole package has to run off the solar cells (which are the limiting factor). If there is enough electricity, maybe a a few KB of flash memory to save you place in the book. Close the clamshell and you turn off the book. Such a device should last decades. Will we ever see one. <Shrug> Just pitching out the design Pro Bono.
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