Monday, October 12th, 2009

Asus Plans Cheap, Double-Pane eBook Reader

September 8, 2009 by Robin Parrish  
Filed under Electronics

The market for ebook readers grows daily, thanks to the success of Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s eReader, and now inexpensive tech maker Asus is preparing to enter the market with its own device. Here’s the twist: Asus plans to deliver more bang for the buck — at about half the price of Amazon and Sony’s products.

How they’re going to manage that remains a mystery, but Asus “Eee Reader” is said to have not one but two screens, both with full color displays (the Kindle and eReader both use e-ink that’s black & white only), built-in WiFi for surfing the Web, stereo speakers, a webcam, and a microphone for Skype. To these ears, all those extra features make the Eee Reader sound less like an ebook device and more like a touchscreen tablet — a notion reinforced by rumors that one of the dual screens will also function as a virtual keyboard.

The dual screen displays are connected via a hinged spine, similar to a printed book. It’s a clever idea that should really help to reinforce the feeling of reading a real book instead of staring at a screen, particularly as you use your fingers to “turn” the pages and both screens react to your gesture.

Asus is believed to be aiming for the low end of the pricing spectrum, with two classifications of Eee Readers available — budget and premium versions — with the budget version priced at around $160. I find it hard to swallow that Asus could reasonably expect to offer such a high-tech device, with that huge list of built-in features, at such a bargain-basement price. But Asus is hoping to ship the devices by the end of this year.

Image: Asus.

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