If you want to see what the eBook announcements were at CES, visit this one page. They’ve done great work compiling that list, even if they forgot Cool-er (which is understandable!).
Everything there that uses eInk you can ignore. They’re already d-e-d.
Some notes on the non-eInk devices after the break.
ICD Ultra: This is an interesting device but since the strategy seems to be selling it via a cellphone company with a contract, it’ll most likely go nowhere. Just like all those netbooks gathering dust on cellphone store shelves.
MSI Dual-Screen Notebook: It’s a prototype. Will it ever appear? I doubt it. And given the iSlate, will anyone care if it does show up?
HP Slate: The one running Windows 7 is a non-starter. The one running Android … we’ll have to see its price and capabilities. HP likes to cook up stuff — witness their TouchSmart desktops.
Freescale Mini-Tablet Concept: That will sell for an MSRP of US$200 when pigs sprout wings and fly. Forget it.
Dell Mini 5: Christmas 2009 has passed. You’re too late now. No one cares.
The clear winner of CES is Notion Ink’s Adam mini-tablet — but that’s only due to its Pixel Qi 3qi screen. In other words: the excitement was for the component others can buy, not for Notion Ink. This makes them extremely vulnerable.
The company that was shockingly just about invisible at CES: Asus.
Now that the 3qi screen has been shown to work spectacularly well on something that can actually do things, everyone — including even the tech gadget whores of Gizmodo — has finally caught on to the fact that eInk is a pathetic little thing that deserves to be tossed into the deadpool.
The 3qi is a Lee Harvey Oswald head-shot to eInk.
From this point on, I will no longer mention any eInk devices in this blog. They are a waste of time and money. If you own one, you’ll be scrambling to ditch it on eBay by the end of this year. You’ll want to replace it with something that has a 3qi screen.
As for Notion Ink, they have ambitions. But do they have the capital required to realize those ambitions? I doubt it.
I was very surprised that Asus totally avoided “smartbooks” (I hate that term) and especially eBook devices. This tells me that Asus has scrapped whatever their prior plans were in these two areas and has decided to up their ante.
I think Asus going with the 3qi screen is a natural. It’d be a match made in heaven — for Asus, for Pixel Qi, for customers.
But not for Notion Ink.
Asus doesn’t have to engage in any of Notion Ink’s ambitions to win. They just have to get 3qi-screened devices out there and let buyers snap them up by the jillions, just as they previously did with netbooks. If Asus marries an Android-powered “smartbook” (grrr) to a Pixel Qi screen, everyone will ask, “Notion who?”
Yes, the mini-tablet form factor is compelling, but if Asus can offer something nearly as slim, nearly as light, and with a keyboard for actual hard work, people will jump on it. Portability plus being able to do hard work trumps the luxury — and it is that — of a mini-tablet any damned day. I’d buy one. Not instead of an iSlate, but in addition to. I’d leave the expensive jewel-like iSlate at home and carry the “smartbook” because I wouldn’t worry about the replacement expense.
I think Asus understands something that obvious. And that leaves Notion Ink ready for its own Lee Harvey Oswald head-shot.
The one thing people tend to forget about Asus is that they have been fulfilling Apple’s 1984 mandate of “Computers for the Rest of Us.” And have been following through on that with prices that match that goal.
I’ll have more to say about Notion Ink in another post at another time.