In each issue of Distro, Executive Editor Marc Perton publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.
There's a very good chance you're reading this on a tablet. Distro is, after all, first and foremost, a tablet magazine. There's also a reasonable chance you're reading this on a computer. Distro works on Windows 8; we have a platform-neutral PDF version; and most of what we publish in Distro also appears on Engadget. There is, however, almost no chance that you're reading this on a color e-book reader (no, not a color tablet; an e-paper reader). And that's too bad.
In this week's Distro, Sean Buckley tells the story of color e-paper, a once-promising technology that simply couldn't make it in a tablet-centric world. Despite years of development work and the tantalizing promise of high-resolution, daylight-readable, low-power displays, color e-paper was rendered an also-ran once the iPad began gaining popularity and low-cost Android tablets followed suit. Major e-reader makers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, all released their own color tablets -- at prices below their $300-plus color e-ink competitors. That strategy wasn't without its fallout; B&N eventually got out of the tablet market, and Kobo continues to struggle to gain market share in the US. But color e-book readers fared even more poorly, and color e-paper's future is now tied to other devices, such as smartwatches.
While OLPC has done wonders to advance public discourse about the importance of bringing technology to underserved children in the developing world, the company hasn't always been successful with its actual products.
While this isn't a terrible scenario for consumers -- reading an e-book on something like the $229 second-generation Nexus 7 is certainly a better experience than using the long-discontinued, Triton-based $530 Hanvon reader -- it's not without its downside. Try using the Nexus 7 on the beach. Or for more than 12 hours without looking for an AC outlet. For those moments, we're happy to have grayscale e-book readers like the Kobo Aura -- but Distro looks so much better in full color.
Speaking of tablets, this week's Distro takes a close look at the XO Tablet, the latest offering from the pioneering One Laptop Per Child group. While OLPC has done wonders to advance public discourse about the importance of bringing technology to underserved children in the developing world, the company hasn't always been successful with its actual products. And, as Brian Heater points out in his review, the XO Tablet, designed for mainstream first-world consumers, is something of a disappointment. The $149 Android tablet, clad in OLPC's trademark green rubber, is, as Brian points out, more expensive than some better tablets, and has an uneven app selection, making it a tough choice for parents, despite a user interface that provides "a unique approach to helping broaden kids' knowledge and encourage curiosity." That, says Brian, is "a bummer for a company with such a great cause."
This piece originally appeared in Distro #105.