Quick hands-on from CES: Que and Skiff e-readers
E-readers need speedy touch to be popular
The two are nearly the same size, about the size of a regular sheet of paper, and are focused on almost the same market for business professionals, or, at least, big readers of traditional newspapers and magazines.
The biggest issue for each (and for all e-readers) seems to be how easy the touchscreen features respond to a person's touch to navigate pages in a book, newspaper or document -- or even to make notations with a finger on an article or document.
The Que, which will start selling in April in two versions that cost $649 or $799, uses capacitive touch, while the Skiff, with no announced release date or price, uses resistive touch.
AT&T is providing the 3G network behind the Que, and Sprint is working with Skiff.
My very brief experience holding and using both machines showed me that the Skiff had better and faster reactions to my touch than the Que.
It took a good two seconds to move from page to page in a newspaper on the Que on several tries, but when I tried to circle a paragraph with my finger, the circle appeared almost instantly. However, when I tried to write "This" next to the circle with my finger the resulting image was mangled.
With the Skiff, I could get reactions in less than a second on several tries, and circling and highlighting items were equally fast.
Nearly all the navigation on the Que will be on the touchscreen, which puts a premium on its speed. The delay I noticed could be annoying for an impatient executive, I'd imagine.
The Skiff, meanwhile, has several on-screen navigation buttons on the bottom, and a physical navigation "big wheel" on the left side as well as an up-down physical button.
A Skiff official said the company purposely tried to limit the amount of touches that might be needed, since it can actually get tiring to keep repeatedly swiping a page to move through a book or magazine. That makes sense to me, too.
Skiff isn't even allowing photographs of its device as yet, but it has a white frame around the screen, with a gun-metal back, while the Que is all black and glossy.
The Que has a 10.7-inch diagonal screen, compared to Skiff's 11.5 inch screen. The Que is .3 inches thick, while the Skiff is .25 inches thick. Skiff CEO Gilbert Fuchsberg claimed the Skiff is therefore the thinnest e-reader and has the largest full touchscreen on the market so far.
Fuchsberg also said a color screen e-reader from Skiff could be ready for shipment by the end of the year. He showed reporters a working prototype of Skiff with a color screen, but the images shown had very dim colors. He admitted the color needs to be brightened before it is ready for production.
It's hard to have an overall impression of both devices with such a short time with them. However, I'm left wondering whether an e-reader using e-ink displays is anything I'd ever want to own, given brilliance of LED backlit screens in laptops and netbooks with many colors.
Also, any e-reader device with even the slightest delay in touch will probably not prove too popular, either, I fear.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .
- 'Minority Report' interface shown at CES
- Image gallery: Hottest laptops and netbooks of CES
- Your mobile future: From smartphones to superphones -- and beyond
- Intel CEO shows first Moorestown smartphone
- Verizon Wireless flexes LTE muscle at CES
- First looks from CES: Google Nexus One and Motorola Backflip
- Palm opens developer program, adds plug-in support
- Palm updates the Pre and Pixi for Verizon Wireless
- Quick hands-on from CES: Que and Skiff e-readers
- First Look: Marvell's Plug Computer 3.0
Read more about Smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.
- Tips for Driving User Adoption in New Technology Deployment Read this checklist on tips for driving user adoption to see where you stand.
- Top 3 Myths about Big Data Security : Debunking common misconceptions about big data security Big data represents massive business possibilities and competitive advantage for organizations that are able to harness and use that information. But how are...
- Magic Quadrant for Data Masking Technology IBM is a leader in Gartner Inc's Magic Quadrant for Data Masking Technology. Read the full report to learn about IBM.
- Best Practices for Securing Hadoop Historically, Apache Hadoop has provided limited security capabilities. To protect sensitive data being stored and analyzed in Hadoop, security architects should use a...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Why Are Customers Really Deploying an NGFW? It seems every IT Security expert is talking about the NGFW, but what are people really doing? This webcast covers 5 real-world customer... All Smartphones White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!