Android tablets are mostly dull; Asus, Samsung, Sony, and the rest are typically just pumping out versions of the same platform. Earl, from a startup called Sqigle (sic), is quite a bit different: it's designed top to bottom for use in the wild.
To that end, it starts off with an electrophoretic display, an exceedingly low-power technology that's used in the black-and-white ebook readers like the Kindle and Nook. A tablet's screen drains the most battery, by far, so using a low-power screen like this is a great way to extend the battery life. Of course, that means you also get extremely low refresh rates and no color, so you can pretty much forget about watching video on this thing, but as a wilderness guide? That's not nearly as important as battery life.
Touchscreens also work differently with electrophoretic displays; a regular LCD touchscreen uses capacitive technology, which senses the minute electrical charge your finger gives off. Touchscreen electrophoretic displays use infrared sensors, so any contact that breaks the infrared beam triggers a reaction. It's less precise, but it means you can use gloves.
Then it's got an unusual array of sensors, from internal weather sensors (barometer, humidity sensor, thermometer) to FRS, GMRS and MURS radio receivers to talk over long distances to a regular AM/FM radio. It's also "extremified," capable of withstanding dusting, water, and both high and low temperatures. And it's got a solar panel on the back, which typically would be an inefficient way to charge such a power-hungry gadget as a tablet--there's a reason tablets don't all have solar panels on them--but for a lower-power device, it could actually provide enough power. (The company says it'll charge the 3,000mAh battery in five hours, which sounds a little dubious to me.)
I've never tried Android on an electrophoretic device before; those touchscreens tend to be finicky and imprecise, so I'd imagine it could be difficult to use an operating system designed for a different screen technology. But less-complex selection should be fine.
The project is currently being crowdfunded, but in an unusual way; they're not going through Kickstarter or Indiegogo, instead choosing a sort of provisional pre-order strategy. You plunk down $250, and if the project gets funded, you get a tablet. If not, you get refunded. Tyson Fok, the director of strategic programs for the Earl project, tells me that this decision came from a desire for more intricate page designs, which sounds insane to me--the Earl page is not that complicated, Kickstarter's pages look nice, and also who cares--and, more sensibly, that Kickstarter takes a cut of the funding. But I'd be very suspicious to plop down $250 for a startup; the assurance that you won't get screwed is part of the ostensible goal of Kickstarter.
Anyway, check out the project here; funding will go until June 9th, if you're interested.
Great design and features. I'd expect this to cost a lot more than $250. Sounds too good to be true, so I would hesitate to fund this.
The team at Earl wants to thank PopSci for featuring us on their site. We are really proud and excited about this project and it can't happen without support and exposure from sites like PopSci. We'd also like to talk about our decision to design and host our own crowdfunding site. It was not taken lightly, we are big fans of platforms like kickstarter and indiegogo, but ultimately chose to maintain complete creative and financial control of Earl because we believe in the huge potential of this device. Once we reach our crowdfunding goal, we plan to continue offering and updating the Earl device online, which lead to our decision to start our own crowdfunding platform and site for Earl. We have seen other very successful campaigns (https://lockitron.com/preorder) create their own crowdfunding sites and felt Earl would be best served by this model.
Ultimately, the success or failure of a campaign falls on the product and team behind it, not the crowdfunding platform. That is why all backers will receive full refunds if our goal is not met by the end of the campaign. We sincerely hope that will not be the case, as we want to get Earl into the hands of all those backers that share in our vision of this project.
If anyone has any other concerns or questions regarding Earl or the crowdfunding campaign, please contact us at:
email@example.com or visit the site www.meetearl.com
I actually have a serious use for a device like this. However, I need a screen with color and faster update like Liquavista's Electrowetting technology. The built-in solar panel is not particularly interesting since other power sources would be available.
meh ... more of a concept then actual useful device for "survival".
This panel is in no way efficient enough to charge anythin in a short time (unless ur in alps with loads of sunlight).
You could charge faster wit ha hand cranked dynamo or external proper solar panel.
Not to mention how fragile it looks.
You would most likely crack and break it if it were to hang on that clip lol.
OLED would be great - but its moisture/pressure sensitive.
I dont see a real survivalist application for this.. rather "hippy" backbackers.
I'm myself an outdoorsman, and I don't usually carry with me other electronic gewgaw's than my mobile phone AND (more important) my trusty FRS/GMRS radio.
For navigation, I still use paper maps and charts (I'm a sailor too...). Of course, I do have a couple of GPS devices to give me precise locational data, but I don't rely on them. Paper works even when wet, and it doesn't run out of batteries ;)
That said, "Earl" is an interesting concept. Funny that nobody thought of this earlier on? If they can pull this off, the "Earl" might prove to be a mighty useful addition to the toolbox.
One question... Why is the writer doubtful of the 3Ah@5h charging claim? The cell is certainly capable of producing more than 7,2Wh/h. By the size of it, I would put the yield nearer 10Wh/h, and this should cover the typical 30% loss quite adequately.
Would I pay 250$ in advance for this device? A positive maybe, and a probable yes I would. Sounds smart, practical and not "out of this world".
One other new noteworthy Android tablet with a fairly innovative feature is the Novo 8 Discovery tablet from Ainol Electronics - which previously won a "Best Tablet of the Year" Award at CES 2012 for the first in the Novo series –- the Novo 8 Discovery is one of the first tablets on the market to work with Miracast HD Wireless technology, similar to Apple's $150 AirPlay system... and with a Miracast adapter which costs only $35, provides wireless connection to any HDTV - ideal for streaming movies (Netflix), to play video games, and display any other tablet media content to a TV. One of the first sites it's available through is called TabletSprint -- and is priced at $159, and features a Quad Core processor with 2GB DDR3, 16GB Memory, a 7.85" screen (mini iPad size), and offers bluetooth, HDMI, a 4000 mAh battery, MicroSD storage, Android 4.2.2 O/S, and Google Play store preinstalled.
Another Android tablet to launch this month that also stands out from the norm, is a hybrid device with impressive features for a mid-range tablet, and is priced competitively at $239 -- the Aocos Hummingbird PX103 is similar to the Asus Transformer, and is a 10-inch device that includes a hard cover with a reversible built-in keyboard; along with the latest Android 4.2.2 O/S, a Rockchip Quad Core processor, an HD 1280x800 IPS screen, Bluetooth (works with built-in keyboard), HDMI, Dual Cameras, a 7000 mAh battery, and Google Play preinstalled. This is the third edition of this model and it offers an excellent build quality with an ultra-thin 9.6mm profile and weighs in at 1.4 lbs. Additional details are available at TabletSprint --
That panel is at most 2-3W considering its size and density.
It would take around 6-7 hours for that size on a direct constant sunlight to charge a 3000mAh battery - but it doesnt say the watt/hours for the battery so cant be certain.
But thats assuming you have no clouds and basically constantly facing the sun.
So the 5h is VERY situational. Could work in desert like/high altitude situations. Assumign you are willign to sit and let it charge for half a day in a survival situation....
Thats where the battery packbacks come handy (with built in battery so it charges while you travel)
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Wow who wrote this?! The writer hasn't even tried a touch screen? Yet calls Android tablets boring and the same no matter the brand? If you're going to have someone write an article about gadgets at least make sure that person is under 80 and that they know what they are talking about.
this is an excellent survival device that could potentially save lives of hikers who get lost. All of those features replace things that you would otherwise have to carry giving you more room to carry other things like food and water. It would seem very unlikely that the creaters of this device would leave out trying to make the screen durable when it is on the clip, and apperantly you dont understand how much energy the sun puts out each day, which would be enough to charge with solar panels like those. Maybe you should learn a little before making ludicris statements like that.
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