Today Amazon is announcing the release of the Kindle DX for this summer. Unlike the Kindle and Kindle 2 it is designed with full page 8.5 by 11 PDFs in mind. You can read about it here. When I got wind of it two days ago I was talking about it with my wife, Kelly Anne. The first words out of her mouth, "So when are you saving up for it." She know I am a huge fan of my Kindle. Yesterday a co-worker teased be as for the first time in a couple of month I was reading a real book.
Anyway I told her well I will be tempted if it is under $500. I was expecting it come in somewhere between $500 and $700 based. These devices are driven by the cost of the e-ink screens. They come from one manufacturer who is still low on the economy of scale curve.
And then came the formal announcement. $489.
I am doomed.
Despite my enthusiasm for the Kindle it is still no iPod ... yet. The Kindle DX is an important milepost to what will be the future of RPGs. This device will leap the barrier between paper and electronic PDFs.
Yes there will always be book only readers just like there are people who play acoustic instruments vs electronic instruments. However for the average person a device like the Kindle DX will be gold.
There are two remaining hurdles to overcome; color and price. The reason why the Kindle is no iPod is because the price is too high for the average user and just barely in reach for a middle class technology geek like me. When the small version drops below $200, and the large version under $300 I foresee wide scale adoption on the scale of the iPod. Adding color will seal the deal.
When I get my Kindle DX, this summer there will be no difference for me between using a PDF product or the paper version. Like using a virtual tabletop for gaming there are tradeoffs. I will be giving up the ability to have multiple books open. However I gain the ability to put custom bookmarks and notes as well as the ability carry dozens of PDF on a single device.
My current Kindle library is already approaching ludicrous levels between the various books I purchased my subscriptions, converted PDFs, and free e-books I downloaded.
After a year of using my Kindle I say I now read about twice as much as before. I can't begin to say how convenient it is especially compared to paperbacks. The ability to adjust text and lay flat while I am eating is just pure gold.
Eventually these device will be extended to allow application to be run. I fully expect that the tabletop of 2020 will be a bunch of people gathering around a Surface computer with a spiritual descendant of the Kindle displaying a character sheet with hotlinks to specific rules. The Surface will be using icon tokens or RFID encoded minatures linked back to the "Kindle".
For intenet the same device would interface through Bluetooth or wireless USB and worth through a Virtual Table Top sporting 3D maps as well as the 2D variety.
These "Kindles" won't be manfactured as we understand it now. Instead they will be "printed" and then encased in a protective covering and be as flexible a stiff piece of paper. Along the sides will be thin bars housing the electronics along with wireless and ports. You will be able to plug these into a docking port that has full size peripherals like keyboard and mouse attached to it and function as your regular computer.
Welcome to the future.