The company introduced the latest tablet Monday at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco. Like its larger cousin, the single-screen model, which has a 14.1-inch display, is built to store digital textbooks, course materials and other educational content.
Because e-textbooks are less expensive, students can reap a return on investment from the dual-screen model, which is expected to sell for less than $1,000, within 13 months, according to Kno. The single-screen tablet will be less expensive, meaning a faster ROI. Kno has not released pricing.
"Even though the Kno pays for itself in 13 months, the smaller upfront investment of the single-screen version will allow more students to use our learning platform," Osman Rashid, chief executive and co-founder of Kno said in a statement.
Though a firm release date has not been disclosed, the tablets are expected to be available by the end of the year.
While other tablet makers, such as Apple, Dell, Samsung, and others, are focused on broader audiences, Kno is targeting educators and students with its namesake tablets. Besides support for digital textbooks, the company's touch-screen devices are optimized for storing and viewing course materials and running educational applications. In addition, the devices offer a stylus for note taking, while also providing Web access and the ability to play multimedia content.
Investors include venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and TriplePoint Capital. Kno co-founder Rashid also co-founded Chegg, an online company that rents physical textbooks.
While having less expensive digital textbooks would benefit students and hardware makers, it remains to be seen how quickly major textbook publishers will embrace digital technology. Companies like John Wiley & Sons, Pearson and Cengage Learning are likely to move slowly in order to establish a business model that can maintain profits.
In addition, schools would have to adapt classrooms to electronic media and provide hardware to students. Because of budget restraints, such a move is likely to take years in high schools, but some colleges and universities could move a lot quicker.
Meanwhile, outside the U.S., some regions are moving faster toward e-textbooks. Shanghai, for example, plans to become the first city in China to scrap paper textbooks in favor of digital books. The city hopes to make the transition in five years.