I’ve swooned over the Kindle before, but still haven’t found myself willing to take the plunge. Sony has been going after Amazon’s Kindle with sexy new versions of its own e-book reader, but the main problem with the ebook market in general is that the readers are still just too expensive, not to mention stuck in a technology slow-lane with black and white text, no color support, and the non-intuitive physical form factor of a single slab.
Enter ASUS with the first real innovation we have seen in this market – a dual-pane reader with color screens, genuine computing/web surfing abilities, and most importantly a low price:
The world of ebooks is about to start a new chapter with the arrival of the cheapest digital reader on the market. Asus, one of the worldâ€™s biggest consumer electronics businesses, confirmed last week that it is planning to shake up the market in the same way it did when it launched the first netbook â€” the low-cost alternative to the laptop.
(…) Unlike current ebook readers, which take the form of a single flat screen, the Asus device has a hinged spine, like a printed book. This, in theory, enables its owner to read an ebook much like a normal book, using the touchscreen to â€œturnâ€ the pages from one screen to the next. It also gives the user the option of seeing the text on one screen while browsing a web page on the other. One of the screens could also act as a virtual keypad for the device to be used like a laptop. Whereas current ebook readers have monochrome screens, the Asus would be full colour. The maker says it may also feature â€œspeakers, a webcam and a mic for Skypeâ€, allowing cheap phone calls over the internet.
The ability to read on one page and surf on the other is a big deal – imagine having Wikipedia, Google and Evernote handy while reading a book! You could really enhance your comprehension and note-taking that way, all on the same self-contained device. The key to success here is the connectivity, with both WiFi and 3G essential. ASUS is poised to transform the ebook reader market the same way they did the notebook market with the introduction of the EEE PC. It’s about time.