I love the idea of reducing the number of devices I own. The thing I carry in my pocket already takes pictures, plays games, gives me alarms and reminders, browses the web, and even makes phone calls, sometimes. But there's just some things I do that need their own stuff. Working on my cars is one of them.

Like most car guys (male and female, of course) I use repair books and guides when I work on my cars, and I've often wished I had them electronically, so I could more easily access them, search them — the same basic reasons I love having any book in e-reader format. I have three devices I can read eBooks on, as well: A Kindle, a MacBook Air, and an iPhone — and I don't want to even touch any of them when I'm working on a car. That's why we need something else. Our own E-Reader. Just for car guys.

Maybe I'm just a disgusting slob, but when I work on a car my hands usually look like I've murdered C-3PO after doing repulsive things to his oily innards. My hands are grease and grit encrusted pentapods that would make any touchscreen unusable in seconds, and any trackpad or keyboard a mess. Using the devices I have now is not an option.


I don't think I'm alone. I think there is a real market for an e-reader device that is designed to be used with greasy, possibly gloved hands and built to take actual abuse.

The kind of thing that can live in your toolbox or trunk without worrying about. I looked around for ruggedized cases, e-readers or tablets, and while some do exist, they all have some fatal flaw, usually that they're touch screens, which just won't work.


So here's what I want:

• A rugged, rubberized case with a handle
• No touchscreen; UI would be controlled with a fat, stubby joystick or joypad and a rubberized keyboard. The keyboard would have the letters embossed on it, so there's nothing to rub off and the more dirt in there, the more legible the keys get
• The screen can be ePaper or LCD; color's not really necessary, but could be nice. Backlit would be great.
• Software: I don't care if it's Android or Kindle or whatever OS, as long as repair manuals can be downloaded to it, books searched for key words, and some nice things like step-by-step displays where you see step 1 big and full screen, and single keys take you forward or back. Bookmarking, too.
• The ability to recharge from a cigarette lighter would be nice, and, if you wanted to get fancy, throw an OBD reader in there.

I made some quick 3D mockups of what I'm thinking of; I like the flip-back keyboard/joystick panel to make a stand, if I do say so myself (though that means a flat joypad for navigation).

The ability to browse the web over wifi or 3G or play videos, etc. would be great, but I could live without that. I just want a good, tough thing I can find all my service manuals in and not worry about when I drop it or get it filthy. So. Who's with me? Anyone own an electronics factory-city in China I can borrow?