While the Kindle has largely failed with students as a replacement for printed textbooks, some colleges plan to test new e-reader devices whose promoters argue that two screens are better than one.
One of the new e-readers is called Kno, which was announced in June and will be given to about 100 students at three colleges. The Kno sports two 14-inch screens, allowing users to read on one screen while writing notes on the other. With a pen stylus, students are able to highlight text and make annotations as they read. Both screens are LCD rather than the e-ink technology used in the Kindle, which means they can display in color, but they could be harder on the eyes for long reading sessions. The company plans to make the product available on the market just before Christmas.
Kno’s founder, Osman Rashid, argues that students who have tested the device so far found it more portable than a laptop computer. “They think the laptop becomes the new desktop, because this gives them everything they need during the day,” Mr. Rashid said.
The company has struck deals with four major textbook publishers, including Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Wiley.
Meanwhile, the Edge, another dual-screen device aimed at the education market, will make its debut in 50 college bookstores this fall. The Edge contains both a 9.7-inch e-reader screen and an LCD screen—making it sort of like a Kindle strapped to an iPad.
Like the Kno, the Edge primarily serves as a textbook reader, although it also offers applications, because it relies on Google’s open-source Android platform. Both devices feature Web browsing, e-mail access, and audio recording.
The Edge sells for $539 and is available for order online. The Kno will announce its price in the fall.