The Asus Eee Reader gets more details

The first eReader with a backbone? The Asus Eee Reader

The first eReader with a backbone? The Asus Eee Reader

The London Times published a story that fleshed out in more detail Taiwanese company Asus’s plans for their upcoming eReader — dubbed the Eee Reader.

According to the article Asus is planning on two versions of their eBook. One would be a budget version that Asus is hoping to be the cheapest on the market. They’re currently aiming at a £100 figure. The second version would be richer with features but still at a reasonable price point.

As we mentioned when we first wrote about the Asus Eee Reader announcement last week, Asus is the leader of low-price chips and netbooks. They’re competing feature is that they typically offer the lowest price of the market. It looks like they’re applying this strategy to their eReader releases as well.

But Asus seems to be taking a new approach to the typical eReader design. They’re creating a book-like eReader complete with hinged spine. Think of it as a Nintendo DS turned on it’s side — like a book. You can also close the Eee Reader and use it as a tablet in the traditional way. Asus is also aiming to give the reader a full color screen, mic, webcam and speaker so that it could be used for Skype calls. They plan to officially announce their intentions by the end of the year.

See the full story from the London Times after the jump.

Asus, inventors of the netbook, is about to shake up the ebook world with the arrival of the world’s cheapest digital reader

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 world’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 — the low-cost alternative to the laptop.

Asus claims its ebook reader will be cleverer and more versatile than the current crop available from companies such as Sony and Amazon. It aims to unveil the device before the end of the year, according to Jerry Shen, the company’s president — and it may not be just one device, either.

The company is looking at a budget and a premium version, according to a spokesman for Asus in the UK. Details are scarce but the more expensive device is expected to follow closely a prototype dreamt up by the firm’s research and development team earlier this year.

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 “turn” 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 “speakers, a webcam and a mic for Skype”, allowing cheap phone calls over the internet.

Such features would move the device squarely into laptop territory. “Our ethos is innovation — as our brand is less well known, we have to run faster than the competition to develop new types of products,” said Asus. “Any such product — including an ereader — has to have the right combination of functionality and price. No one is going to buy one for £1,000.”

The budget version of the Asus ereader will be more in keeping with the Taiwanese company’s reputation for producing cut-price gadgets. Dubbed the Eee Reader, after Asus’s cheap-as-chips Eee PC netbook range, it is likely to take on the competition on price rather than features. The cheapest rival on the market is the Cool-er, which costs £189. Asus is thought to be aiming nearer the £100 mark.

Typically about the size of a standard paperback, ebook readers are able to store hundreds of digital books and convey the appearance of paper far better than a laptop screen does. The ability of some newer devices to access the internet and download digital versions of newspapers and magazines has widened their appeal beyond tech-savvy early adopters and towards the mainstream.

So far, the more sophisticated devices have taken some time to reach Britain. Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Daily Edition, for example, both of which contain a 3G mobile-phone Sim card, are on sale in the US but not here. That is about to change. Irex is about to release a 3G ereader, currently known as the DR 800, in America. Both that and the Kindle are expected to go on sale in Britain in the next few months.

The arrival of a new rival from Asus could give the industry a much-needed shot in arm: to date fewer than 80,000 ereader devices have been sold in the UK, according to GfK, the retail analyst.

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8 Responses to “The Asus Eee Reader gets more details”

  1. The dual page version really seems interesting. Any idea of the price point on this design?

  2. It’s not clear if Asus’s intention is to release a dual page as the budget version, the premium version or both. The only price point mention is the £100 ($160-165 U.S.) mark that they’re aiming for on the budget version.

    Hopefully we’ll get more information on it soon.

  3. This is going to heat up ebook reader market and it has got everything which can make it a kindle (which is priced at $299) killer. This is going keep Amazon on its toes. Gear up Amazon. Its tough time ahead…

  4. This is prove to a Kindle killer… and CrunchPad could also land up in real trouble… this do every thing what crunch pad is supposed to do and more….

  5. Nice….the design is a copy of the OLPC project’s next laptop, but that is still two years away. I would love the dual touchpad version.

  6. Displays black/white only. So it dies for me. To bad, ASUS!

  7. It is now December 22,2009 and there has not been a single word about the Asus Eee Reader since September of 09. I wrote to Asus asking if they had a release date and they didn’t have the courtesy to respond. Has this simply been dropped? I was waiting for it to hit the market to purchase one but with not a single updat I think it may have tanked. I would wait if I knew a release date but since it seems to have fallen into a black hole I guess I’ll go with the Astak EZ reader. I was going to go with the 6″ screen but I found out that the new 5″ pocket modelhas the text to speech feature. Does anyone know if audio books downloaded to an ereader can be read in text as well as audible?

  8. Just read it’s coming out March 2010 and it’s using e ink technology.