Early efforts to open the market for ebooks suffered from a variety of missteps: clumsy, poorly designed readers, multiple ebook formats, no markup or note-taking capabilities, proprietary limitations, and on and on. The Kno, however, looks to have learned from the technological deficits of its predecessors, with a dual-screen tablet specifically targeted toward replacing large, expensive, graphics-filled college textbooks, as described in a recent gizmag article.

A few of the features:

The Kno will support multiple e-Reader formats of course as well as popular document types such as PDF and cater for highlighting, bookmarking and note-taking. WiFi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity add potential for cloud-based study, immediate reference checking and high definition multimedia interactivity too.

For example, users encountering an unknown word, phrase or concept would currently either seek out another reference text or boot up a portable computer to search the internet. With the Kno, all that’s taken care of with the one device. As the company puts it, the device: “blends textbooks, course material, note-taking, web access, educational applications, digital media, sharing and more into a more powerful and engaging educational experience.”

The design, while it appears promising, will be wrung out thoroughly during beta testing by students this summer. The platform relies on an open-source model, using a Linux embedded browser, but it will be interesting to see how the textbook pricing and content protection will work, whether reasonably open or impossibly draconian. The educational world needs a good tool like this.