ASUS popularized the netbook phenomenon with its Eee PC, after OLPC had created the category. Now, the company wants to do the same thing with ebook readers, a category that Amazon and Sony have pioneered and turned into a niche market in recent years.

According to a report on Monday in The Times of London, the ASUS e-book (which was first announced at CeBIT in March) is on tap to be released before the end of 2009 and will cost much less than Amazon’s $300 Kindle. The Times reported the ASUS device will likely be priced around 100 British pounds (about $150 US dollars).

According to The Times:

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.

  1. Tom says:

    Since it does not use the Ink system, it remains to see if the much shorter battery life will be a deal breaker… Also, does it have a backlight (another dealer breaker for me). Most importantly, what will be the source and availability of its E-Books?


  2. Micromike says:

    I want to know more. Sounds interesting if they can hold the price and include all the features.

  3. pfkad says:

    Very intriguing, but light on detail as #1, Tom pointed out. Still, somebody’s going to hit the sweet spot on these devices sooner rather than later I’m thinking and then I’ll be first in line.

  4. Grandpa says:

    I would already own an ebook if it weren’t for DRM. That Kindle fiasco has turned me off in a big way. I don’t want to invest hard earned cash on something that disappears without warning.

  5. Animby says:

    Amazon has not learned lessons from iTunes concerning DRM. That’s why no Kindle in my future. I don’t want to be restricted to one supplier of ,my hardware. The ASUS thing looks very interesting. Need more specs, of course. I was waiting for Plastic Logic’s reader but …

  6. KMFIX says:

    This thing looks retarded.. Why on earth would you want to pretend you’re holding a book? Specially a fake book that has a big empty spot down the middle.. Move forward people..

  7. Ah_Yea says:

    I would line up to get one if Tom’s issues are addressed.

    I don’t care about 3g access, I can plan ahead and load what books I want.

    As long as it reads PDF, I’m there. I’ve got some PDF books I haven’t read yet but I could find the time while traveling.

  8. Blandings says:

    I also think the dual screen idea is a bit dumb, as is the notion that we could read a book and browse the web at the same time. When I read a book, I read a book, period. Or may be I’m atypical.

    In any case, it would make more sense to avoid the dual screen (to reduce the cost) and have a full single screen (A4 preferably). I think anything back lit would be a deal breaker, and I’m not sure having color is going make it more acceptable.

    Also, I think many manufacturers are making too much about connectivity (wifi, 3g, etc. etc.). I would be happy to just have a USB or Firewire connection to load stuff on the reader, if that really helps to reduce costs. I agree that there is a potential market of people who would prefer skipping reliance on a PC for loading books, but I think manufacturers are overlooking A LOT of people who prefer to use their PCs as way stations for this kind of stuff.

  9. Cursor_ says:

    Make it single screen, it doesn’t need to act like a traditional book. Just ad a finger down swipe and you put the book on hold for web use.

    Example would be that you were delivered a magazine. While reading it there was an advert and you could touch it and it would push the book display down and start the web up to surf to that site. Once done a finger swipe up and you are back to the zine.

    But having two screens is an expense and weight not needed.

    Of course they could be thinking that provides a built in protection of the screen but to me it would be too hefty to hold in your hands if you were say standing and reading at a train platform or similar.


  10. mr. show says:

    Looks like two eee-books epoxied together! Are we sure it wasn’t made by the likes of Steve Balmer? HAR!

  11. Zybch says:

    color = atrocious battery life, especially if a backlight is involved (and other than OLED, ALL portable color screens need a backlight).

  12. Patch & Pony says:

    More junk for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

  13. RTaylor says:

    Why not work on a tiny heads up display, which you could control the opacity. I’ve tried a number of wearable screens and they’re been terrible. They may not be doable.

  14. Improbus says:

    Will it blend?

  15. Luc says:

    You are all wrong. Although a single screen is good enough, a dual screen does make for more comfortable reading. You can more easily glance at some passage you read just a few seconds ago to check again on something, I do that all the time. Plus it eases the transition from paper to digital. We are human beings, we like transitions. We feel better with them than without them. Phones haven’t had a “dial” in decades and we still “dial” them. I could go on and on with outdated concepts and metaphors that stick around just because we like them.

    Battery life is kind of a problem, but it will be taken care of. Batteries are getting stronger and operating systems are getting more efficient.

    I agree that there should be wireless-less models. Just an SD card reader and/or USB port is fine so long as the whole kit gets cheaper.

  16. Mark Derail says:

    Backlit LCD is a much cheaper technology than E-Ink.

    You can plug in almost anywhere nowadays.

    College kids using the Wiley Plus system for buying online books could use this if it’s Wifi and can display a web page + pdf.

    Students save 50% on electronic books and ‘own’ it for life (or as long as Wiley Plus . com exists).

  17. Winston says:

    $150. Yeah, right, just like they got millions of bucks of free publicity when they claimed the Eee PC was going to cost only $199. When it became available it sold for $399.

    They’ve pulled this BS once and it worked so they figure they can pull it again.

  18. amodedoma says:

    I thought the whole point of these things was the ePaper. I have a Sony PRS 700 and believe me, those epaper screens are great for reading. Sure you can read on a color tft, but it’s tiresome, and probrably bad for the vision. Hinged is also a mistake. Anybody who’s ever owned a laptop can tell you where they wear out first. Perhaps a hybrid of some sort, if they put enough functionalities. I wouldn’t be investing in Asus based on the potential sales of this product.

  19. The0ne says:

    I’m loving all these e-reader competitiveness. I want one but waiting for a more suitable product. With a few more companies now in competition to kindle and Sony it’s going to be fun.

  20. Greg Allen says:

    I have been eagerly awaiting an eBook for nearly a decade. Here is what I need:

    1) About $100
    2) All the same titles as print but MUCH cheaper (approx 1/3)
    3) Durable
    4) Long battery life
    5) Easy to read — even in daylight.
    6) Ability to _easily_ put my own documents on there.
    7) Automatically updated periodicals

    I do not need “gee whiz” page turning effects but lots of hyper-linking, bookmarking, clipping, indexing, searching (aka useful) tools would be great.

    It’s hard to tell if this ASUS will fit that bill but it seems to be getting closer.

  21. Glenn E. says:

    Check out the electronic book featured in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” movie. It had a wide, seamless, folding screen. That was full color and touch sensitive. And of course, the voice of Steven Fry as its audio output. But I don’t believe it responded to voice commands. It didn’t have Babel Fish technology built in it. Now if they could make an e-book work like that, and have “Don’t Panic” on the front cover, I’d buy it.

  22. Uncle Patso says:

    Sounds like just a wish list so far.


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