eReaders Abound at CES 2010

by Reads (7,159)

Many of the big names at CES 2010 are taking a shot at the emerging eReader market, with Sony flipping its page on its own Daily Edition.

All of the major contenders are nestled in a corner of the Las Vegas Convention Center called the eBook TechZone, CES 2010’s answer to a book nook (with apologies to Barnes & Nobles’ new device that was not at the show). This technology-infused reading room features literally hundreds of eReader devices from dozens of manufacturers.

While some of the devices, like Plastic Logic’s QUE proReader, may not have the name recognition of the Amazon Kindle, they present a worthy challenge to the current e-reading king. Analysts estimate the Kindle currently accounts for approximately 2/3 of all eReader sales, according to Reuters.

Sony Partners with Murdoch
Sony released their latest and greatest eReader, the Daily Edition a few weeks before CES, shipping it out in time for the holidays. Though, they did highlight their exclusive streaming content partnerships with the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, and the New York Post (all owned by Rupert Murdoch, a vocal critic of Amazon’s Kindle business model). That, coupled with the Daily Edition’s relatively higher price point of $399 (compared to the Kindle’s $259) suggests that Sony may have the weary business traveler in mind with their eReader.

The Daily Edition is the first Sony eReader to feature wireless connectivity. It’s able to access the Sony store for content via AT&T’s 3G network, which works well with the new partnerships.

“You can sign up through to Sony store to get the Wall Street Journal, then every morning at 6 AM Eastern Time it will actually download right to the unit,” a Sony rep said. In addition, Sony’s new eReader will download the WSS late and weekend editions.

While there were whispers of fragile eReader screens with the industry’s earlier models, the Daily Edition seemed fit for at least limited abuse. To demonstrate durability, the Sony rep heartily squeezed the screen, leaving no noticeable marks.

The 600 x 1024 display is 7.1-inches and supports 16-level gray scale. The battery is good for 12,000 page turns. That said, the Sony rep claimed he left his Daily Edition on and untouched for more than a month, and it still retained power.

If Sony is flirting with the business user, Plastic Logic is flat out courting them with the QUE proReader. CES attendees are flocking to Plastic Logic’s booth at the eBook TechZone to catch a glimpse of what the company dubs “the new standard.” In addition to ebooks and magazines, the QUE supports Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and users can even check Outlook email from the device. The QUE has the largest screen of the major players, coming in at a sizable 8.5×11 inches. It comes in both a 4 GB and 8 GB model, with the 8 GB model offering AT&T 3G and Wi-Fi. The units are priced at $649 and $799 respectively.

Notable CES Exceptions
Neither the Amazon Kindle nor the Barnes & Noble Nook are at CES, though the Nook was made available for the press at another Las Vegas event. The Nook sets itself apart with a color LCD touchscreen at the bottom of the device for navigation. It too supports AT&T 3G and Wi-Fi. The Kindle currently has no Wi-Fi support. The Nook currently costs $259.



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