Kno promised to launch a double-screened Linux-based e-reader designed for students at D8, and the undercover startup didn't disappoint -- believe us when we say it came out in a big way. That's big as in freaking big: the Kno reader features dual 14.1-inch capacitive IPS displays (1440 x 900 each), weighs 5.5 pounds, and offers six to eight hours of battery life, all in a package that's so comically large we thought it was a joke when we first saw the press shots. Kno says it'll offer both pen and touch support, and it'll come with a stylus out of the box. Under the hood, it's running a Tegra 2 chip with 16GB of storage, and the entire experience is essentially a WebKit instance. Yes, it's sort of like the Courier, but larger -- much, much larger.
We had a chance to go hands-on with the device as well as speak to some members of the team developing the Kno, and while it's clear that there are major bumps in the UI and user experience, it seems like the company is aware of them. What we saw today was clearly unfinished, with a lot of laggy, stuttery behavior in the interface, a crash or two, and some very inaccurate finger tracking, but Kno says it's hard at work on eradicating those issues. Even with the UI fixes, it's a hard sell at "under $1000," but Kno is putting together partnerships with publishers to make that a little easier to swallow, as they say ultimately it will be less expensive than buying regular old text books. It's an audacious idea, for sure... and we're still completely confused by one of the company's press pics featuring a bunch of dudes running around in their underwear, but we digress. Check out some shots from the demo, PR pics, and our hands-on with the device below.
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KNO INTRODUCES GROUNDBREAKING DIGITAL TEXTBOOK AND LEARNING PLATFORM THAT HELPS COLLEGE STUDENTS "BREAK FREE" FROM THE DRUDGERY OF STUDYING
The Sleek Two-Panel, Touch-Screen Tablet Takes Education into the Digital World with a Fully Interactive Experience That is Engaging and Fun
D8 Conference, Palos Verdes, California, June 2, 2010 – Today, at the D8 2010 Conference, Kno, Inc. will debut its groundbreaking digital textbook and dynamic learning platform specifically designed for college students. Kno, short for knowledge, is a unique two-panel, touch-screen tablet that blends textbooks, course material, note-taking, web access, educational applications, digital media, sharing and more into a more powerful and engaging educational experience. Kno was developed on open web technologies that welcomes the publisher and developer communities and opens the door to unprecedented innovation in education. Its platform provides the opportunity to create new revenue streams for publishers and developers of content that can be delivered electronically to students.
Kno combines the best of the analog and digital worlds with specific capabilities for students that no other eReader, tablet, or computer can offer. It replicates the true book experience by fully preserving the publishers' carefully defined page structure. Complex charts and graphs are presented in the same manner as a physical textbook, which allow students to interact, take notes and highlight directly on the page. Each side of its innovative, two-panel interface operates independently from each other, enabling students to use both panels to display a book, or view a book on one panel and open their browser or digital notebook on the other.
Kno offers full browser support, enabling students to consume digital media, such as video or links to other web content without leaving the textbook environment. Students can also access their email accounts and for example, send coursework to their professors. Kno supports Flash, HTML5, PDF and ePub content, the underlying technologies of most publishers.
Beyond providing a more effective and efficient learning environment, Kno is profoundly practical. Kno eliminates the need for students to carry heavy textbooks, course materials, notebooks, calculators and pens, offering a lighter and more economical alternative to a back-breaking backpack.
"Today's college students have grown up in a digital world and are comfortable consuming digital media and content via the web and portable devices. By bringing that experience to their education, Kno will transform the way they learn," said Osman Rashid, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. "With the help of publishers and developers, we know we can create a thriving ecosystem to benefit students and the entire education system."
Kno, Inc. is working with the top publishers to ensure availability of required textbooks and course materials for students by product launch later this year. As an example of that, Kno announced today that it has established strategic relationships with leading higher education publishers Cengage Learning, McGraw Hill, Pearson and Wiley to launch a student beta program in fall 2010 with a number of universities and colleges across the U.S. Additionally, further distribution and pricing details will be announced over the next few months.
Additionally, Kno is currently working with developers and it will come bundled with a variety of innovative, education-focused applications. Simultaneously with the full product launch, Kno.com will offer a store for developers to host and sell their applications and for students to download textbooks and course materials.
"Our education-focused product is inspiring developers to create a whole set of innovative applications that leverage students course content, touch technology, video and Kno's hand-writing interface," said Babur Habib, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder. "Every subject – science, math, literature, history – will be enriched by new learning tools that will add excitement and discovery for students."
For more information about Kno, please visit www.kno.com.
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Kno, Inc. Announces Student Beta Program with Major Higher Education Publishers Including Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson and Wiley
Groundbreaking Digital Textbook Coming in Fall 2010 to Universities and Colleges across the U.S.; Kno Now Working with More than 90 Percent of the Higher Education Publisher Market
Santa Clara, CA – June 2, 2010 -- Kno Inc., the creator of the new digital textbook and learning platform, today announced a beta program with the top four higher education publishers including Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson and Wiley. Under the new initiative, publishers participating in the beta program will be providing select digital resources and content for an in-classroom beta program that will launch fall 2010 at major universities and colleges across the country.
"Kno's alliances with publishers is a key component of our strategy to fundamentally change the way students learn," said Osman Rashid, Kno's Co-Founder and CEO. "We are excited to work with Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson and Wiley to bring their content directly to students to help enrich their college experience. It is this content students need combined with the features that they want that differentiates Kno."
The purpose of the beta program is to validate the effectiveness of digital content within the Kno device and platform. Kno, which officially launched its product at the D8 2010 conference today, is a unique two-panel, touch-screen product that blends textbooks, course material, note-taking, web access, educational applications, digital media, sharing and more into a more powerful and engaging educational experience. Kno is a dynamic platform developed on open web technologies that embraces the publisher communities and opens the door to unprecedented innovation in education.
"McGraw-Hill Education has long pioneered the innovation of digital content, embracing the intersection of technology and education to improve student achievement," said Rik Kranenburg, President of McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Professional and International (HPI). "We are pleased to work with Kno to bring the best of our content to students in an experience that maintains the integrity of higher education learning to universities and colleges across the country."
"Cengage Learning has long been delivering digital content to serve the needs of our customers. We are pleased to work with Kno to bring our innovative instructional solutions to students through this new device that is targeted to the academic market," said Bill Rieders, Executive Vice President, Global New Media, Cengage Learning. "We expect the beta program to be very informative as we work with the industry and partners to create superior learning experiences that will engage students."
"We're excited to partner with Kno on its Student Beta Program to validate the effectiveness of digital content within the Kno device and platform, " said Bonnie Lieberman, Senior Vice President, Higher Education, John Wiley & Sons. "We share Kno's goal of improving the learning process and student experience."
About Kno, Inc.
Kno, Inc. is fundamentally changing the way students learn, by offering new ways to digitally, consume, organize, create and share knowledge. Kno is a transformative two-panel tablet that artfully blends the intuitive experience of the conventional textbook with a rich digital world of video, note-taking, sharing and more. Its open platform encourages publishers and developers to create and distribute innovative education applications and content. Kno, Inc., www.kno.com, was founded in May 2009 by Osman Rashid, co-founder of Chegg and Babur Habib, a consumer electronics veteran. Kno has a world class team of management from Apple, Cisco, HP, Intel, TiVo, Chegg and Palm. The company has received funding from Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Maples and Ron Conway and is based in Santa Clara, California. Follow Kno at: http://twitter.com/GoodtoKno.