This has to be the most versatile reader that anyone has thought of making yet. Earl, an ereader designed for explorers will hit the market in a couple of months – all being well.
As you will see as you read on, this ereader will have everything built into it that any backpacker, explorer or adventurous soul could possibly wish for in one device. It is an ereader, a GPS, a walkie talkie, a weather station, waterproof to 3 feet under water, has a touch screen that you can operate while wearing gloves, and a whole host of other functions and abilities that you might well need should you be running around in the Karakorums or the Amazon. Though at its launch, it will only have maps in it for the Americas, other parts of the world are sure to follow. So to start with you can happily use this one when wandering in the Rockies, Alaska or the Nevada desert.
Using the latest FRS, GMRS and MURS transceiver you can use this for talking to others up to 20 miles away, no matter where you happen to be.
It will also boast a built in set of sensors that enable it to tell you all about the weather that is happening or about to happen in your area, a truly useful thing to have when out in the wilds as I know all too well, having been caught out by unexpected storms more times than I care to think about.
As I said above, it will have a touch screen that you can operate while wearing gloves, so in cold temperatures you can still control it easily – By the way, it will happily work in temperatures from 0 to 50 degrees Celsius. Not sure what you are supposed to do when it actually gets really cold though…. Something they might consider working on seems to me. Personally I have never felt the need for gloves at 0 degrees C.
Yup, it is one of those as well, having a flexible e-Ink monochrome screen, and able to work with all the normal ebook formats, e-Pub, PDF Mobi and so on. So you can take all your favourite ebooks with you, as well as ebook versions of “The Lonely Planet” and other guides as well.
Having an e-Ink screen it is easy to read in bright sunlight, and they have also built in something called “Lunar” mode, which apparently illuminates the screen in the dark This can also be used as a flash light apparently.. I am bemused as to what exactly this might be.
From the specs, it would seem that it will be a pretty good ereader, if more or less standard in this function.
Well it is water proof, rated to be up to 3 feet under water for as much as 30 minut3s, is shockproof, so dropping it wont matter, has a large solar panel mounted on its back, which can recharge its internal battery in 5 hours of direct sunlight, so you should be OK for power most of the time.
Further it will have a built in radio so you will be able to listen to broadcasts on SW, LW, FM and AM, which seems to me to more or less cover all possibilities in that direction.
Also, and this is truly useful, it has a built in GPS unit, which with the maps that are already available of thousands of tracks in the USA and then later for the many that exist outside the USA it is really very useful for walkers in wild places.
So all in all, this gadget promises to be something that every serious backpacker in the wilder and more remote parts of the world would want to have hanging from his or her pack. Though given how many important jobs it can do for anyone in the real wilderness, I would want to have a couple of them with me in case anything happened to one of them… If you only have one, and it dies, gets lost or whatever, you could be truly stuck. But then I am a belts and braces sort of person, and hate to be dependant on one device when it really matters…. Thus if I went sailing, I would want GPS, and also a sextant and compass.
Will it actually hit the market?
Well this of course is the big question, they are trying to get this off the ground via crowd sourcing financing, and have managed to get a respectable amount of money together already. Apparently the device itself is already fully developed, it is just a matter of funding to go into full scale production.
They are talking in terms of delivery in August, and you can already pre-order it if you feel like spending $250 on it that is.
- SoC – Freescale i.MX 6 DualLight Cortex A9 @ 1GHz + Vivante GC880 GPU
- System Memory – 1GB
- Storage – 16GB flash + microSD slot
- Display – Flexible 6″ E-ink screen (1024×768), with glove friendly IR touchscreen
- Connectivity – Wifi b/g/n, BT 4.0, ANT+, NFC, FRS/GMRS/MURS, and GPS + GLONASS
- ebook formats: ePub, Mobi, HTML, TXT, PDF
- Sensors – Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Temperature, Barometer, Humidity, and Anemometer
- Misc – Radio AM/FM/SW/LW + IR blaster
- Battery – 3000 mAh (20+ hour) rechargeable with solar panel or via the provided 20″ USB lanyard.
- Weight – 303 grams (10.8 oz)
- Dimensions – 183mm x 121mm x 15mm (7.2″ x 4.75″ x 0.6″)
- Certifications – IP67 rated, allowing full submersion in 3 feet of water for 30 mins. Reliable in temperatures between 0-50 °C, and altitudes up to 40,000 feet. FCC approval pending.