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Asus to release world’s cheapest eBook reader

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September 10, 2009

The new Asus reader could be the device that finally kick-starts the eBook market

The new Asus reader could be the device that finally kick-starts the eBook market

Despite being around since the mid-nineties, eBooks have never really taken off and this is mainly down to the fact that eBook readers, which have been available for about a decade, have proven prohibitively expensive and barely more convenient than lugging around a couple of paperbacks. Sony and BeBook have seen relative success in recent times, along with the Amazon Kindle, but a new competitor in the form of Asus could be set to breathe new life into the market.

The device is currently being dubbed the Eee-reader and will undoubtedly look to build on the reputation for value and practicality garnered by Asus’ Eee PC range.

It’s off to a good start in terms of price, claiming to be the world’s cheapest digital reader. From the available image, it doesn’t look like Asus has sacrificed quality or usability in order to achieve this goal. Most notable is the hinged-spine design that apes the layout of an actual book, and should contribute nicely to comfort and general operation. Full-color touchscreens will be used to flick back and forth between pages, and users will allegedly be able to browse the web on one page while displaying a book or virtual keyboard on the other.

The presence of a speaker, webcam and microphone starts to draw the Eee Reader away from conventional digital reading device into Netbook territory, and though further details are scarce at present there’s enough here to generate some serious interest.

The Eee Reader, if indeed this is the name it will go by, is expected to be officially unveiled before the year is out and will likely be available in both budget and premium versions. The expected retail price is around £100 (USD$167) and while this may still be too expensive to help eBooks break into the mainstream market, the added advantage of its additional features would suggest that it’s certainly capable of making a splash.

Via Timesonline

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9 Comments

I like the idea of travelling with a versatile ebook reader device,but preferably one that will display all popular formats,not be tied to one provider,and not leaving you concerned how long it will be til the power runs out! Not being an expensive one trick pony would also be useful..of the choices available currently,a netbook seems closest to ideal..

Gerard Gallagher
11th September, 2009 @ 05:58 am PDT

From an Industrial Design point of view, this looks like a no-brainer. You have to wonder why it took ten years to appear.

Facebook User
11th September, 2009 @ 09:03 am PDT

Why haven't e-readers and e-books taken off? The reasons are many: lets start with digital rights mania. You buy a paperback lets say and read it, you have the right to share it with whomever you want then they share it with whomever until it becomes unreadable. With e-books you don't have that right.

The next is proprietary formats. I owned a kindle 2, purchased with the intent of reading technical manuals which didn't work out do to the fact that .pdf is not native on the kindle, and I also bought some books to read on the Kindle. I then sold the Kindle and bought the sony prs 700 where .pdf is native but I do not have the right to read the books I bought for the Kindle because I do not own it any longer. I also cannot share the books bought on the sony with my friend who has a Kindle.

As far as battery life the Kindle is fantastic, the battery lasts about two weeks the way I read, the Sony not so fantastic. The touch screen draws a lot of power and the battery seems to need charging about ecery 4 days or so, shorter if I use the light much.

The Kindle also has a nicer shopping experience if the wireless is available - just find a book you want and download it to the Kindle directly, on the beach or wherever. Another drawback is when I get on the plane to travel they make me shut the e-book off for take offs and landings, that doesn't seem to happen with a paperback!

Greg Garman
11th September, 2009 @ 09:47 am PDT

From the scale reference (look at the hand) it looks pretty big. That may be why it has the stand.....

Fred Raimondi
11th September, 2009 @ 10:07 am PDT

I hope that this device doesn't lock you into yet *ANOTHER* proprietary e-book format like the Sony or the Kindle. Hopefully this thing will connect seamlessly to WiFi, or BlueTooth and will read natively, PDF and straight TXT documents with no conversions. I would like for something like this to be able to connect to my network and use a NAS shared folder that has all my e-book media in it...Kinda like a whole library in a reader kind of thing...so I don't have to have all my books on the reader!

Unfortunately, this article is very lacking on these details and does nothing more than whet the appetite!

Ed

Ed
11th September, 2009 @ 04:50 pm PDT

I am not sure what everybody is talking about. I have got a COOL-ER reader for 299 AUD and it can read almost any format.

Vladimir Popov
11th September, 2009 @ 06:17 pm PDT

Instead: Buy a small ASUS netbook ($250) running free eReader or fbReader software (there are many others out there), and then you just use the software to turn the screen to portrait mode so you can hold the netbook sideways like a book... easy reading! Just tap the space bar or a key to advance the page. Couldn't be easier, and now you have ONE device for reading books, surfing the web, office productivity, Skype, Facebook. Why have two devices to lug on a trip???

There are thousands of classic books for free in PDF or TXT format at gutenberg.org, or you can buy modern books, too, at eReader.com or other booksellers.

The only advantage to a Kindle or Sony eBook is battery life... but with a large battery pack running in "Eco" mode on the netbook, I can get six or more hours on a charge for airplane flights, and I can recharge at layovers.

Doc

matthew.rings
30th September, 2009 @ 08:35 pm PDT

matthew, you are missing it. I am writing this reply on eee but it is NOT an e-reader even if I use the software you recommend (I will give it a try). The issue is the readability of the text. I will still go for a regular e-reader (but keep sitting on the fence because of proprietary formats on kindle and Sony). Or will consider some gadget with e-paper-like lcd display they say are in the pipelines. Which may be, hopefully, already on the new eee reader.

nehopsa
13th October, 2009 @ 04:38 pm PDT

From what I've heard about this 'ereader' it uses a standard screen. I can't see how they would provide full colour for this cheap price any other way. The main point of e-readers is that they use e-ink technology to display the e-books. This means they are not hard on the eyes as e-ink is a reflective technology and they are not hard on the battery pack as e-ink only needs power to refresh the display and doesn't use that much power even when doing that.

Personally I think that by attempting to cut the price by using standard TFT technology Asus has completely missed the point. It's a shame as usually they are a byword for the technologically adept and in this case they are acting like ignorant businessmen trying to cash in on the latest fad. They should have invested into research of making cheaper e-ink technology. Dual screen is nice, wi-fi is nice, colour is nice, touchscreen is nice, but if someone came out with a basic pushbutton non-wi-fi greyscale e-reader for less than £50 they could get a serious proportion of the market. Especially if they made it open to all formats.

For those complaining about proprietary formats I agree it's a pain but if you're technologically adept (or have a tame geek like me) there are technique tutorials and programs out there to help. The new Amazon Kindle and the Kindle DX seem to have the widest format coverage with only Epub not supported and there are programs out there to convert from Epub to Mobi. At the very least you can use a simple PDF printer to convert files.

Timothy Lee Rayner
26th March, 2010 @ 02:58 am PDT
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