Asus Atomic Bomb eBook Reader?

Two reports today confirming that Asus plans at least two models of an eBook reading device:

Tech news: For the smarter kind of bookworm

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.

There’s many things one can say about Asus, but none of them are what I’ve heard about the Cool-er. The Cool-er is fall-apart hardware from PVI that lives down to its bottom-feeder reputation. Asus EeePCs, on the other hand, have had generally stellar ratings all across the board.

ASUS planning dual screen Eee Reader: world’s cheapest e-book reader

According to president Jerry Shen, the Eee Reader will become the planet’s cheapest e-book reader, though a premium model could also be launched to satisfy those craving higher-end features — probably amenities like inbuilt 3G, a web browser and expandable storage.

Asus is also a company that dares to dream.

It pioneered netbooks, popularized them, churned out more of them in a shorter period of time than Sony did of PalmOS-based CLIEs, put MultiTouch in them, made them easily hackable, and created an entire new category of portable computing device.

They came out of nowhere and created an Apple-like earthquake in digital devices.

And now they are aiming at the eBook.

To say that the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, and all other eInk devices have just been sent to their doom is to state the obvious.

Here are a bunch of photos I’ve culled from the Net of a prototype eBook reader Asus recently displayed:

WePC_concept
The Register Click = big

asus-dual-screen
TechArena Click = big

asus_screens_02
The Register Click = big

asus_ebook
Ferra Labs Click = big

As for a screen, really, there is only one choice for Asus: Pixel Qi, which states on its website:

Our first screens will be 10″ diagonal screens for netbooks and ebook readers that are sampling now and will ship in high volume in late 2009. These screens rival the best epaper displays on the market today but in addition have video refresh and fully saturated color. The epaper mode has 3 times the resolution of the fully saturated color mode allowing for a high resolution reading experience without sacrifice to super color fidelity for graphics. In addition these screens can be used in sunlight. Look for them in the market in the second half of 2009.

This is a photo comparing the Pixel Qi screen in ePaper mode to the eInk display of the Amazon Kindle in outdoor sunlight:

kindle_3qi_detail.155134839
Click = big

It’s obvious the Pixel Qi screen is superior in terms of resolution and contrast.

Asus could crank that sucker out at massive scale and plummet the per-unit cost. It could also then move it into its netbook line, causing refresh upgrades there for people interested in better battery life and outdoor use.

It’d be all-win for Asus.

The one question remaining is: Adobe-DRM ePub compatibility?

Do we need to even ask that?

Asus is the company that brought Microsoft to its knees, causing it to slash the price of Windows XP.

They will do the same with Adobe and its license.

You think Adobe hasn’t seen what happened to Microsoft? You think Adobe doesn’t realize Asus = jillions of sales?

All of you companies that are planning on eInk eBook devices? Don’t bother. Stop now. Liquidate your companies. You’re dead.

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4 Responses to Asus Atomic Bomb eBook Reader?

  1. Randolph says:

    Agreed. This will change eBook readers for everyone and well, there's no stopping Asus from becoming the Great Big Generic Gadget Giant Company.

    Let's see if anyone can follow in their footprints with a properly priced eBook reader.

  2. Mike Mc says:

    “To say that the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, and all other eInk devices have just been sent to their doom is to state the obvious.”

    If Asus delivers. I own a Sony Reader and I would drop a couple of bills on one of these but I’m unsure if there’s enough consumer demand to allow Asus to bring this to market at a ~$200.00 price point. As things stand dedicated eInk readers have two advantages over LCDs: readability and extreme battery life. If Asus can deliver color,comparable (or better)b&w readability and a decent (8 hour?)battery life I’m all all over this. I love my Reader but a larger screen, color and instant page turns would be awfully hard to resist.

  3. A Fucking Men! I have been a fan of the OLPC technology since the start, and the way that Asus has popularized OLPC’s vision *and improved it*. The double screen eReader does look a lot like the prototype XO-2, mind you, but the XO-2 looks suspiciously like it was created as a movie prop. The Asus reader looks like it might actual work.

    Two fantastic things came out of OLPC – Walter Bender (Sugar Labs) and Mary Lou Jepson (Pixel Qi) – people who bitch about the look and feel of electronic reading v. print haven’t looked at the right screens. Kudos for pointing out what should be obvious about Pixel Qi.

    My first reaction when I see a double page reader like this is “wow, you could open this completely and play a board game on this”. I’d love to see a cheap reader durable enough to survive use by kids which they could use to read electronic magazines, using full page layouts for the Where’s Waldo stuff. In colour. For the kids.

    Cheers,
    Piers

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