Year of the e-reader? Gadgets grab spotlight at CES
E-readers will be big news at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, as new devices will be on display from multiple manufacturers, including heavily hyped readers from Hearst-backed Skiff and Plastic Logic.
What should publishers be looking for? Bigger screens better suited to periodicals, color LCDs, improved e-ink technologies for better legibility. Here’s the rundown of some notable devices and other e-reader technology expected at CES (and check Twitter for real-time updates):
Skiff Reader. Being billed by its owner as “the first e-reader optimized for newspaper and magazine content,” the Skiff Reader (below) is thin (just over a quarter-inch), light (just over 1 pound) and expansive (an 11.5-inch display). It features a touchscreen and a resolution of 1,200 by 1,600 pixels. Through a partnership with Sprint, the device will provide 3G wireless connectivity for accessing and downloading content. Skiff’s still mum on availability and pricing.
Plastic Logic Que. Plastic Logic is targeting its new Que reader at business professionals, providing productivity tools in addition to access to digital newspapers, magazines and e-books. Like the Skiff Reader, the Que is thin, light and sports a larger, 8.5-by-11-inch form factor. Plastic Logic has already announced content partnerships with a handful of publishers to distribute publications including Financial Times, USA TODAY, Detroit Free Press, Popular Science, PC World, and MIT’s Technology Review. It is partnering with AT&T for 3G connectivity. Pricing and availability specifics will be announced at CES.
Mirasol. This display technology from Qualcomm could represent a major step forward for color screens on e-readers. From Ars Technica: “Qualcomm has been talking up its MEMS-based Mirasol display tech for some time, and the company claims that Mirasol-based e-readers will come to market later next year.” Ars Technica notes that Mirasol’s support for color video will extend its appeal beyond e-readers into mobile phones and other devices.
Paradigm Shift EER. Engadget and others report that Paradigm Shift will introduce two full-color e-book readers, one with a 5-inch display and one with a 7-inch screen. As some bloggers have noted, the devices more closely resemble tablet PCs than e-readers. The devices will be available in late February, priced at $149.95 for the 5-inch model and $199.95 for the 7-inch version.
Interead COOL-ER. Interead will introduce new versions of its COOL-ER e-readers. The COOL-ER Compact is small –6.7 by 4.6 by 0.41 inches – with a 6-inch E Ink screen. A COOL-ER Connect model adds WiFi support and a touch screen, while the new COOL-ER 3G adds, you guessed it, 3G wireless connectivity. These consumer devices are targeted primarily for e-books.
Knfb Blio. This e-reader platform from inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil’s knfb runs on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod Touch devices, supports full color, animation, and video content, and offers text-to-speech capabilities, according to Singularity Hub.