The Kno Starts Shipping Tomorrow

You probably remember the Kno, either from the original announcement or the demo at TechCrunch Disrupt. The monster 14.1″ screens set it apart from every other tablet on the market, and the customized Ubuntu OS makes it potentially more versatile as well. The impressive technical specs had me doubting whether this device would ever actually see the light of day, or just languish in development hell until the funding ran out.

They’ve defied my expectations, however, and are actually beginning to ship to their first pre-order customers (though many are having to wait until mid-January, and are canceling their orders). The version I got to play with was pretty much final, though I haven’t had the pleasure of hefting the (in)famous dual-display version, which I expect will turn out to be an albatross around the company’s neck.

Here’s our interview with the founders, who show off the single-screen device pretty well:

Some relevant final specs from the specs page:

  • One or two 14.1″ 1440×900 touchscreens (pen and finger input)
  • Nvidia Tegra T200 CPU (dual-core ARM Cortex A9)
  • 512MB RAM
  • 16GB or 32GB onboard storage
  • Micro USB, microphone, and 3.5mm audio ports
  • 2.6lb (single-screen), 5.6lb (dual-screen)
  • $599/$899

And a glare-resistant screen coating, thank god. It’s really quite a powerful machine, and from what I saw, it seemed very well put together, and the UI is definitely something I would have liked when I was a student. That neuroanatomy coloring book I had would have been a good match.

The problem seems to me to be volume, though, and penetration. Universities can barely pay their professors; can they afford to outfit even a single classroom with $600 gadgets? The textbook makers almost all on board, from what I was told, but it remains an expensive proposition. Of course, textbooks are expensive as hell to begin with. Kno claims the tablet will pay itself off in three semesters on average. Tell that to the guy who can either pay $200 or $900 right now to have his books for the next few months. We’ll just have to watch and see how it does, and maybe we’ll even get one to review.

At any rate, they’re rolling off the assembly line and will be shipped out over the next month. Hopefully they’re rushing the shipments so a few will get there before Christmas, a minor expense that may win them some loyalty.