Following our last post, our hardware team informed us that Earl’s shell had a 40% chance to survive a substantial drop and remain sealed against outside elements.
This latest delay will likely push the delivery date back until next year, if not later.
The Earl was designed to be a drop, impact, water, and dust resistant Android tablet based around a 6" E-ink screen. These stringent requirements have led to several major redesigns since the Earl was first announced in May 2013, each of which has pushed back the Earl's release date by several months.
The Earl has both gained and lost components with each design iteration. The original concept included a kickstand with integrated solar panel, but that was dropped late last year in order to simplify the design and make it more rugged. And the Earl also gained an adjustable antenna to better support the multiple types of connectivity (AM/FM/SW/LW, UHF, VHF, and two way).
According to the specs, the Earl runs Android 4.4 KitKat on a dual-core 1GHz Freescale CPU with 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, Wifi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, and multiple sensors. It is going to use a 6" Mobius E-ink screen with a glove friendly touchscreen.
It was originally funded as part of a crowd-funding campaign in May 2013. Early supporters bought their place in line for $249, but after the campaign closed the price was bumped to $299. If you feel like gambling, the Earl is still listed for pre-order for $299.
I've never been so inclined. When the Earl was first announced I was short of funds, and then after it met its first roadblock I counted myself lucky to have avoided investing in a project which I didn't think would succeed.
And I'm still not convinced that the Earl will ship, but even if it foes I have lost interest.
My main interest in the Earl was less its ruggedness and outdoorsy-ness than the fact it ran Android on E-ink. When the Earl was announced in May 2013, there weren't any good options for Android on E-ink. Your only real options were some ereaders like the Nook Touch and the Sony Reader PRS-T2 which could be hacked to bypass the original software limitations.
Now there are several options for Android ereaders, including the Onyx T68 Lynx, Icarus Illumina, and the Boyue T62. They're not nearly up to the abilities of the Earl, but on the plus side they are readily available - and the Earl is not.