Today we’re excited to launch a new weekly column that focuses on the rapidly changing sector of devices, gadgets, and ereaders. Through this new feature, we’ll be rounding up the most exciting news about everyone’s favorite ways of consuming e-books. In addition, we’ll work hard to keep you updated on the evolution of the existing leaders in this sector, such as the Apple iPad, the Amazon Kindle, and the plethora of stand alone ereaders and smartphones.
In this first installment, the two main themes that rise to the surface are the arrival of many new e-book reading capable devices, some of which are based on the Android platform, and the second is the entrance of new devices or the slashing of prices for existing devices, which push the cost of an e-book reader below the $100 threshold.
The bottom line is that the market for devices capable of reading e-books is getting more crowded. While on the one hand this is good for consumers, because as competition heats up device prices will continue to drop. On the other hand, the more crowded the sector becomes, the more challenging it becomes for consumers to choose a device. It also raises one of the biggest worries of consumers and challenges for the industry. If a consumer purchases books for one device and decides to change to another later, can they take their e-book collection with them?
As you can see, this sector is rapidly becoming more complicated, which is why we’ve decided to dedicate some of our attention on the ever-changing landscape of devices, gadgets, and ereaders.
Samsung E60 eReader Goes on Sale
This week one of the UK’s leading retailers, WHSmith, announced that the Samsung E60 eReader would finally be available. Originally announced in May for a July release, the new Samsung features a first of its’ kind slider design to reveal navigation controls beneath. In addition, the E60 also includes a stylus for making handwritten annotations on books and other texts. Another model, the E61, is planned for release and it will contain a full QWERTY keyboard. Currently the new device is available only in the UK.
Aluratek Slashes the Price for Their Libre eBook Reader Pro
Recently Aluratek announced that they were cutting the price of their Libre eBook Reader Pro
from $169 to $99. While lacking the wireless capabilities of other devices in this space, the Aluratek eBook reader provides a reasonable alternative. Capable of displaying e-books in PDF, TXT, FB2, EPUB, MOBI, PRC, and RTF formats, the device also has the ability to play audio books in MP3 format. Although the Aluratek is not really an apples to apples comparison to other leading devices, I believe the price drop is significant and predicts further price cuts from the competition.
The Laser EB101 E-Book Reader
The Laser EB101 E-Book Reader seemed to appear from out of nowhere this week, when it when on sale in Australia. Catching many in the industry off guard, the new device offers a respectable alternative to the usual suspects (Blio, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or Sony Reader). The device features a slim and stylish 5″ TFT screen design with a full-colour LCD touch screen. In addition to an e-book reader, the Laser EB1010 also includes a media player capable of playing a extensive range of media formats including MP3 data tagging ID3 V2 4.0 technology. The device depends upon a USB connection to transfer content onto the device.
Pocketbook Unveil Android Color Touch Screen eReader:
And in what might be one of the most talked about announcements, Pocketbook unveiled the first color touch screen e-book reader based on the Android platform. This week Pocketbook launched 5 new models that will be officially launched at the IFA Berlin in September. The new Pocketbook Probook will come in a variety of form factors but one thing they will share in common is that they will be based on Android 2.0. Details about the new models are sketchy at this time, but should be filled in when the devices are unveiled in Berlin.
New Announcements From the Usual Suspects
There were also a flurry of announcements related to the leading e-book reading platforms. First, Nuance Communications and K-NFB Reading Technology Inc., today announced that
the Nuance Vocalizer text-to-speech technology will be available as part of the Blio eReader when it launches next month. The Nuance Vocalizer will be available as a downloadable accessory on Blio eBook Stores.
Next, Sony announced the availability of two new models of their well known e-book reader. Dubbed the Touch Edition™ (PRS-600) and the Pocket Edition™ (PRS-300), the new models both utilize E Ink® Vizplex™ screen technology to deliver an amazing, paper-like display similar to that available from the Amazon Kindle. In addition, they will also feature new Lithium-Ion batteries that promise enhanced battery life. As the name suggests, the PRS-600 features touchscreen navigation that enables you to turn pages with the swipe of a finger. Rumors suggest that additional models of the PRS-600 will support 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.
With the release of Apple’s iPad back in March, the entire device, gadget, e-reader, and smartphone product space has become extremely busy. While many will be playing catchup with Apple, I believe that we will continue to see a lot of activity in this sector. I happen to agree with Michael Gartenberg that there is a lot of innovation, maturity, and unpredictability left before we crown a clear winner in the e-book reading market. One thing’s for sure, it is going to be exciting to watch it all unfurl right before our eyes. I hope you’ll stay tuned to TOC as we report on this no-holds barred competition.