Hello Prodex
Ebook readers are almost as good as dead. The proliferation of netbooks and phone apps have driven home the point that an electronic device that merely displays books is a doomed idea, something you'd mess with in the Sharper Image while you are getting your free back massage but would never, never consider buying.

"Neat! It even has a calculator!"

The amount of hope and longing that surrounds Apple's mysterious tablet computer is proof enough that people are craving a computer with the same touchscreen and finger commands as an iPhone, but bigger. A computer that works as both a convenient portable device and a utility machine at home when you have the time to set up all the necessary peripherals.

If Apple's Jesus Tablet does not actually exist, it would be necessary to invent one.

Additionally, more and more people are waking up to the inherent problems of proprietary ebooks tied to proprietary devices, especially now that it has been long enough for the devices to start getting lost, stolen, and broken. Consumers are realizing that those hundreds of dollars that they sunk into books for their device are gone if the machine dies. Without a working Kindle, for instance, Amazon customers are not able to read their Kindle books.

Consumers who rushed into the ereading frenzy are realizing they got conned hard by first generation devices. The market is now steering people toward Sony and Google who are making ebooks that exist in "the cloud" and are accessible from any peripheral forever once purchased, making them better than regular books, which ought to be the fucking point.

Last November, I wrote about a device I called the "Prodex," which was the computer I wanted at the time: a portable touchscreen netbook with two screens that opened along a hinge and allowed publishers to create book scans that saved the formatting of real books. Such a device would allow a transitional generation of readers to enjoy every possible version of an ebook, giving publishers the ability to be creative and controversial with their electronic versions instead of yoking them to a machine that merely displays a text file in sickly black and white.

I was mad about what ereaders were doing at the time. The focus should be on the books, not on the ugly plastic devices that allow you to read them. Ereaders should be working to let you read every possible ebook, not calling the shots about which formats are acceptable.

It looks like the good folks at Asus have given me what I want and are developing a computer that mirrors my fantasies right down to size and color. They hope to have it out by Christmas. The goal is to make an ereader that is both "cheaper and more versatile" than existing ereaders, attempting to add functionality and value to a silly luxury concept.

Here's what I imagined:

Here's what Asus is building:

Of course, now I've got other obsessions and I don't think such a computer is good enough anymore. Now I'm convinced that soon tablet touchscreens will be as ubiquitous as the ficus, and that the next generation of computers will be more like puzzle pieces that you link up instead of discrete "computing stations." Computers are going to be much more like magic portals into the internet, handmirrors for Wicked Stepmothers, and the most successful companies will be those who make computers that are unobtrusive, invisible, light, and disposable.

But I like this new Asus machine anyway. I like the way it looks. I want to play with it. Can I type on it? Can I fold one screen all the way back, like bending the cover on a paperback? Will people be able to see what I am reading? Will it also work as a sketchpad?

Can it play movies?

Will it display my favorite porn? Can I slip my dick between the screens, gently sandwiching my twitching manhood between the warm glass plates as I imagine that I am fucking the future?

Posted by miracle on Wed, 16 Sep 2009 11:26:21 -0400 -- permanent link

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