I Don’t Kno About This…

I finally got to spend some time taking a look at the Kno at CES 2011. For those of you not in the Kno, the dual screen tablet is supposed to be the e-textbook and note-taking device of the future. As much as I hated lugging around textbook back in college, I don’t think this device is the right answer to the problem of lugging physical textbooks around campus.

First of all, this thing is huge. Anyone that’s ever used a 14″ Tablet PC understands how difficult it can be to hold it steady and ink at the same time. Now imagine trying to do that with another 14″ Tablet PC hinged to the side of it. I have no clue how students will manage to read and take notes in the classroom with the dual-screen Kno on their small desks.

The Kno reps I talked to repeatedly insisted that the Kno is a much more portable solution compared to lugging several textbooks around. When I asked them about using eReaders instead, they explained that students need to be able to view entire textbook pages at 100% without having to scroll around the page and that 97% of all textbooks can be viewed in their full glory on the 14″ tablet.

Apparently, textbook publishers aren’t keen on completely reformatting all of their books for electronic devices. Thus, the Know is centered around the book paradigm. I think students would be better served with more portable devices, but publishers would need to offer more than what amounts to scanned pages.

The Kno just went on sale and this is the company’s first product. The company has raised almost $60 million and has some pretty influential backers. Kno has the potential to shake things up and help kill off the dreaded textbook, but it needs to make a more mobile solution. The single screen version of the Kno is definitely a step in the right direction.

Advertisement

Comments

  1. bluespapa says

    Holy cow! That thing is enormous! The idea of having room to see your page and your notes is cool, but I do that all the time on a single UMPC seven inch screen in OneNote. My books are text based, and if I can’t crack the DRM, I can’t do it, two 14 inch screens looks daunting.

  2. Jmy0466 says

    I would have loved this in college (25 years ago!). My notebook and texts took up more space on the desk; so I don’t think this is unmanageable in the space a student has. Maybe how functional this would be would depend on what type of courses an individual is studying? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know I would have appreciated this.

  3. Jmy0466 says

    I would have loved this in college (25 years ago!). My notebook and texts took up more space on the desk; so I don’t think this is unmanageable in the space a student has. Maybe how functional this would be would depend on what type of courses an individual is studying? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know I would have appreciated this.

  4. Lennartpeters says

    Funny. A couple of years ago, people would have been freaking out about this thing (probably about the Acer Iconia, which was never mentioned on this site, as well). To me, the original, convincing idea about the tablet pc was and is handwriting recognition compared with the ability to view and annotate almost all document formats in (almost) ORIGINAL SIZE and being able to fully search all of your handwritten notes in seconds. in terms of productivity and not media-consumption, none of those iphones, ipads, “tablets” and smartphones this site has grown to center around can offer that. only a lot of cr-app.
    So, is there hwr on the KNO? (which i won´t buy – i´ll go for the fujitsu t901, which is my personal CES highlight).

  5. savagemike says

    I agree with the company.
    It is not a matter of reformatting.
    Often text books refer to diagrams and charts etc. That needs to be all visible on the same page to work well – I do not want to be flipping pages back and forth every time something says “refer to figure xyz”.
    It does need some creative software.
    You should be able to put two consecutive pages up side-by-side, or split them (so you could view question on one page and the answer key in the back on the other page for instance).
    Also – you should be able to view a textbook on one screen while working in a sequentially paged notebook on the opposite screen. This would allow following in a textbook during a class exercise while taking notes on the other page – while allowing you to quickly flip back to previous notes.
    In essense it would mimic exactly a physical book and notebook.

    The only problem I can see is that glare can be a problem when looking at something laid flat in front of you on a table/desk. But that is the same problem with actual books and notebooks.

    This thing is tiny considering it is about the only ‘book’ you would have to be carrying to classes.
    I would have zero interest in slogging through books and taking notes on a 7″ or even a 10″ screen.
    In fact I simply would not do it – it would impact my classwork (and so – grades) massively.

    It is good to be portable but you also need to have the tools you need.
    It makes no sense to show up to move house for a friend with a scooter.
    And it would be equally silly to do text books and note taking in a class environment on an e-reader type device.
    Wrong tool for the job.

  6. Anonymous says

    The one thing people keep forgetting about the Kno:

    THERE IS A SINGLE-SCREEN SLATE VERSION. $600 for 16 GB, $700 for 32 GB.

    Yes, it’s still 14″, but at a much lighter 2.25 lbs. That I can stomach, especially coming from a 14″ Tablet PC in excess of 7 lbs.

    I’m more concerned about the note-taking aspect of it than anything else. It may well be the biggest rival to the active pen digitizer Tablet PC + OneNote approach yet, and it’s still closer to Courier than anything else, even in its slate incarnation.

Leave a Reply