Pocketbook is taking a departure away from the standard e-reader and targeting a very specific market. They are going after designers who find themselves using CAD software by Autodesk and need a device that wont die after a full days use. We caught up with this new device in the prototype stage at CES 2014 to give you a first look.
The PocketBook CAD Reader features a 13.3 inch screen and utilizes new E Ink tech called Fina. This is basically super lightweight glass and is easy to hold with one hand. Underneath the hood is a 1GHz dual-core CPU with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. It has built-in Wi-Fi and an optional 3G module. You will be able to use this device for a few days with its large 8000 mAh battery.
This design friendly reader is running Android 4.0.4 and the final product should have a fairly intuitive interface. Your recently opened CAD documents will be at the top of the screen and there is adequate room for five documents. On the left hand side of the screen is the Android apps that come bundled with it and a few other widgets spread evenly around.
The model at CES basically was running on a slideshow loop of different CAD drawings of automobiles, planes, and building schematics. It is meant to show the type of drawings it can support. Of course, a loop is not good enough for me, and was easily bypassed. This is where things went terribly awry. Outside of the loop was the standard Android interface that anyone with a device would recognize. Nothing here worked, I hit Settings and selected a few options and nothing loaded. Gallery crashed and nothing really worked at all. Obviously Pocketbook merely wanted to showcase its new CAD Reader in a controlled environment and to give an indication on the future direction of the software. Obviously, this needs a ton of work and is unusable in its current state.
Is there room in the market for this? Many serious designers are using tablets, such as the iPad. This model will likely cost close to $400, as Pocketbook can’t manufacture enough of them to keep costs low. Still, its really light, can be used in the direct sunlight and can render any CAD drawing done with Autodesk software. This is aimed at a very specific niche market, and does not even have a built in e-reading software.
Finally, Pocketbook did a very excellent video, that demonstrates how the CAD Reader will be used in the real world. It was one of the best videos I have ever seen and had high production values. I was told by E Ink that Pocketbook only spent $15,000 on it, and that included post-production.