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Linux e-reader boasts 11.5-inch display

Jan 5, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 29 views

Skiff LLC announced a Linux-based e-book reader optimized for newspaper and magazine content, delivered via Sprint's 3G network. The Skiff Reader's display is claimed to be the largest (11.5 inches) and highest-resolution (UXGA) among e-readers, and the first to offer LG Displays' stainless-steel foil display technology, touted for greater durability.

A Hearst Corporation-backed startup formerly known as FirstPaper, Skiff LLC is gambling that consumers will be willing to carry around a larger size e-reader suited to displaying newspaper and magazine content. Due to ship sometime this year, the Skiff Reader is the first of a number of devices that will support the Skiff e-reading service (see farther below).

Skiff Reader
(Click on either to enlarge)

To handle the larger formats required by digital newspapers and magazines, Skiff moves up to an 11.5-inch gray-scale display, along with UXGA (1200 x 1600 pixel) resolution. By comparison, the largest monochrome e-reader screen we've seen to date is a 9.7-inch E Ink model with 1200 x 825 resolution found on the Kindle DX and the Entourage Edge. (The latter also has a 10.1-inch standard color touchscreen.)

Moving to such a large screen brings greater risk of damage, so while the Skiff still sports an E Ink display, it eschews the typical glass substrate in favor of a metal-foil technology from LG Technology. As the photo below indicates, the stainless-steel display itself is flexible, and with no glass used in the design, is said to be shatter-proof. However, it is unclear how flexible the complete e-reader is when enclosed in its magnesium housing. (It appears we have yet to reach the long anticipated foldable e-book, but we are getting closer.)

Flexible metal-foil display used in Skiff Reader
(Click to enlarge)

The 9.0 x 11.0 x 0.27-inch Skiff Reader is not only touted as being the largest and highest resolution e-reader to date, but also the thinnest at 0.25 inches . The device weighs 17.5 ounces, and is claimed to last over a week of average use between charges. (By comparison, Amazon just announced a firmware update to the market-leading Kindle 2 that extends claimed battery life to a week.)

Skiff did not list the processor used in the device, but a spokesperson confirmed that the device runs embedded Linux. The Skiff Reader offers 4GB flash, with over 3GB available for user storage, and offers an SD Card slot for expansion.

Like most e-readers it offers both WiFi and 3G radios, the latter tuned to Sprint's U.S. network, says Skiff. Mini-USB and audio headset connections are available, along with a built-in speaker, says the company.

The Skiff Reader is touted as being the thinnest e-reader yet, at just 0.25 inches
(Click to enlarge)

The Skiff Reader will connect to the Skiff service and digital store, which provides "a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, books, blogs and other content from multiple publishers," says Skiff. Newspaper and magazine content "will feature visually appealing layouts, high-resolution graphics, rich typography and dynamic updates," says the company. The company did not say whether the device supported formats such as PDF or ePUB, but did note that the device can also be used to display personal and work documents.

According to Skiff, the company has signed a multi-year agreement with Sprint to provide 3G connectivity for a variety of devices. In addition, Skiff says it is working with consumer electronics manufacturers to integrate Skiff's service, digital store, and client software into third-party devices, and plans to offer "complementary applications for major smartphone platforms." The company also says it will work with content providers to integrate advertising content into their offerings.

Specifications listed for the Skiff Reader include:

  • Memory — 4GB flash (over 3GB available for user storage)
  • Memory expansion — SDHC 2.0 compliant SD-card slot
  • Display — 11.5 inches (292.1mm) diagonal @ 1200 x 1600 (174ppi) resolution touchscreen; silicon TFT on flexible stainless-steel metal-foil e-paper display substrate
  • Wireless — 3G cellular; WiFi
  • USB — USB 2.0 (mini-USB port)
  • Audio — Speaker; 3.5mm audio jack
  • Battery — Lithium Ion battery with 2-3 hour recharge time; approximately one week average battery life (thousands of page turns with periodic wireless use)
  • Dimensions — 9.0 x 11.0 x 0.27 inches (228.6 x 279.4 x 6.8mm)
  • Weight — 17.5 oz (498 g)
  • Operating system — Linux

The Skiff Reader at an angle

Stated Gilbert Fuchsberg, president of Skiff, LLC, "The Skiff Reader's big screen will showcase print media in compelling new ways. This is consistent with Skiff's focus on delivering enhanced reading experiences that engage consumers, publishers and advertisers."

Stated Dan Dooley, president wholesale solutions, Sprint, "The forthcoming launch of the Skiff Reader is an exciting development for consumers who are looking for more and more choice in the arena of embedded devices."


The Skiff Reader will be available at an undisclosed price later this year in more than 1,000 Sprint retail locations across the U.S., as well as at More information may be found here.

The first Skiff Reader will be demonstrated at an invitation-only Consumer Electronics Show (CES) event presented by Sprint in Las Vegas on Jan 7 and 8, says Skiff.

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