At Showstoppers for the Digital Holidays, held October 19 at New York’s Millennium Broadway Hotel, Kent Displays and Improv Electronics CEO Albert Green was showing off the new Boogie Board Rip to anybody who looked interested - and quite a few people looked interested.
Rip stands for "Record Image. Preserve." That establishes the key difference with previously introduced Boogie Boards, which are Cholesteric LCD (ChLCD) versions of the old Magic Slate: You can write on them, read them, and erase them. Period. Although the original Boogie Board has been a great success for Kent and Improv at $39.99, buyers and analysts almost immediately began asking for the ability to store and upload to a PC. Rip is the answer to those requests.
The new product, which will be available November first, can store about 200 pages of notes and drawings, said Green, and then upload them as PDF files. So this is in no sense a digitizer. Your notes are not editable unless you subject them to optical character recognition in your computer. (This approach never works for me because my handwriting is nearly unreadable, either by machines or people.) If the Rip is connected to a PC (via USB cable), your writings will appear on the computer screen as you write. Green calls the approach "dedicated ePaper." The Boogie Board Rip, which has a 9.5-inch screen, will have an MSRP of $129.99.
Looking forward, Kent and Improv are looking at several iterations of the Rip, developing the color-changing skins we have described previously in Display Daily, and working with handset makers on various applicatons of ChLCD and Boogie Board technology. One possibility Green mentioned to Insight Media is the use of a small Rip in mobile handsets to replace the mechanical keyboard. The idea is to make instant messaging easier and more personal by doing it in handwriting instead of thumb typing. Hopefully, most people have better handwriting than I do.
Also of interest at Showstoppers were E-FUN’s Nextbook, an Android tablet PC with capacitive-touchscreen. Particularly interesting was E-FUN’s "let the buyer decide" philosophy. The company is selling its Nextbooks in 7-, 8-, and 9-inch versions at $149, $199, and $229. Meanwhile, Apple is taking its cue from Henry Ford and saying "Any size you like, as long as it’s 9.7 inches." And Kindle is offering only 7 inches. At least for now.
Finally, start-up Cinq was showing an apparently well-developed 10.1-inch, USB-powered accessory notebook monitor that mounts to the side or top of your notebooks’s screen, providing a significant bump up in screen area. Cinq has promised us an evaluation unit when product starts rolling off the production line in three weeks. More about the Cinq then, along with some comments about the state of USB-powered monitors in general.