Archive for November, 2009

COOL-ER: a Kindle-killing reader?

The COOL-ER electronic book reader is giving Amazon’s Kindle reader some stiff competition in terms of its weight and price.  Weighing in at just 178g, and priced at around US$300 the COOL-ER can connect to both PCs and Macs via a USB cable and can hold around 800 books in its 1Gb stored memory.

COOL-ER Readers image

COOL-ER Readers

COOL-ER uses a Linux operating system to deliver black and white text, displayed using E-Ink Vizplex technology, to a six-inch (15.24cm) screen.  The makers of the device, Interead, based in Reading, UK, claim that it’s a reader designed “by readers for readers” and that the screen has a “like paper” quality, making it easy to read even in direct sunlight.  This claim may not be an exaggeration given that it displays 170 pixels per inch. The Lithium-polymer battery is good for 8000 page displays and the system memory can be expanded with an SD card to up to 4Gb, which sounds like a few year’s worth of reading.

OK, it’s only black and white and there’s no WiFi for downloading titles directly from an online store, but the CoolerBooks estore, having signed up with Google eBooks, claims to have around one million titles ready for download at the moment, which can include a mix of formats such as PDF, EPUB, RTF, HTML, JPEG and even MP3.  Prices for downloads vary; a copy of Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons” costs US$7.99, for example.

COOL-ER’s design is reminiscent of the iPod Nano, discussed in an earlier posting – kind of a flattened oval available in 8 colours.  It’s other major claim to fame is the fact that the menu currently comes in 8 languages, including Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Russian, and the major European languages.  Unlike Amazon’s Kindle, downloaded titles can be shared with up to 4 other readers.

I’m still a big fan of the paperback novel as the ideal reading material, but the COOL-ER’s size, weight and capacity to hold an entire summer’s worth of reading makes it something I’d definitely think about saving up for.

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iCub the Robot Toddler

Icub

iCub robot

The iCub is a robot project that uses the mind and physical dimensions of a human two-year old as its basic design model.  Its developers, at RobotCub.org a European Union consortium reason that using a two-year old’s mind as a starting point, the iCub will gradually develop and learn much as a young human would, due to its ability to consolidate new information in meaningful ways. The project’s coordinator, Prof. Giulio Sandini, located at the University of Genova, believes that human intelligence derives from physical interaction with the world as well as mental processes, so the iCub’s dimensions are an important component of its future development.

The video below gives a nice overview of the project:

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