As the fledgling e-reader market continues to diverge into more form factors and feature sets, a start-up called Kno is rolling out a new tablet PC specifically designed for displaying school textbooks and academic reference materials.
Amid the bevy of other devices joining the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble nook in the e-reader ring, Kno’s clamshell-style tablet stands out as particularly well targeted to meeting the needs of its intended users – in this case, students.
Although much bigger players such as Apple and Amazon haven’t yet managed to capture the e-textbook space, Kno plans to succeed by tuning the features of its device to the real world functionality required.
Just for starters, the Kno’s dual 14-inch screens are larger than the 10- or 12-inch screens of other ebook readers.
“You have to put yourself in a student’s shoes and not a technologist’s shoes,” according to Kno CEO Osman Rashid. “The iPad [and] all those other devices aren’t created from the ground up with students in mind.”
Rashid and the other company co-founder, Babur Habib, have entered into early partnerships with McGraw-Hill (MHP), Pearson and Wiley, and Cengage Learning (CHC-WT), a sign that resources are already at hand for delivering textbook and reference materials on the Kno e-reader.
After stepping to the stage at the conference in New York City, Rashid and Habib unloaded a set of hefty textbooks from a typical student backpack, telling the audience that they seek to replace those heavy tomes with their lightweight, 5.5–pound ebook reader.
A bit similar in form factor to Microsoft’s recently scrapped Courier tablet, the Kno reader features two LCD touchscreens which open and close much like a book.
About 95 percent of school textbooks will display well on the Kno, according to Rashid, who believes that other efforts at e-textbooks have failed because their screens were too skimpy.
“So [you’d] have to scroll up and down and right and left,” said Kno’s CEO. “[That] makes for a poor learning experience.”