I have long said that txtr made a mistake when they introduced the beagle, their glorified picture viewer pretending to be an ereader, because for a small increase in cost I thought they could have spent a small amount more and given the beagle a real ability to display ebooks and not just page images.
Unfortunately for me it looks like I might have been wrong. It turns out that the beagle might not need any extra hardware ability to turn it into a real ereader – just the right software.
Last week a reader reminded me about an old device called the MicroTouch. I haven’t mentioned this gadget since October 2011, but the reason it came to my attention at the time was because the developer of the MicroTouch had created a basic ebook app for it.
The MicroTouch was a DIY kit, not a PDA, media device, or anything impressive. It was originally conceived as a minimal function alternative to the iPod Touch and then developed for its own sake. It had minimal hardware and ran on a 16MHz CPU.
The MicroTouch couldn’t display Epub ebooks on its own, but it could let you read a condensed version of an Epub called an EPB. You had to run the ebooks through a conversion app before loading them on the MicroTouch, but once you did you could then read a real ebook with text and images.
Here’s a demo video of the MicroTouch which shows off the ebook app.
The reason I am mentioning the MicroTouch is because it ran on a 16MHz CPU. From what I can tell, the beagle has a faster CPU and probably better specs all around. And yet it can only show page images (but not ebooks).
Then again, I’m not a hardware person. I’m posting this in the hopes that someone who does know hardware development can look at the beagle’s FCC filings and compare them to what little we know about the MicroTouch (here).
I’m hoping to find out if the beagle does indeed have better specs. If so then what are the chances that the only thing keeping it from being an ebook reader is software, not hardware?
If that’s true then it means txtr either flubbed the software development or deliberately chose to limit the features and abilities of the beagle. But no matter what the reason for the limitations, if this device is powerful enough to be an ereader then it would well be worth buying a few and handing them out to developers/hackers.
Could someone take a look?