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.