Bookworms, this is your year. In case Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Readers and Barnes & Noble’s Nook didn’t quite catch your fancy this past holiday season, CES 2010 brought an onslaught of new e-book products to fill, well, a small library. From ultra-thin, large-screen readers meant to replace magazines and newspapers, to those tagged with full color LCDs for browsing blogs when Jane Austen gets a little dull (that’s five pages into Emma, by the way), the category marches forward with more content, features and flexibility than ever before. Here are five of the hottest e-readers that will define the portable reading space in 2010.
Clearly targeting the well-heeled business reader who might normally have a copy of Robb Report tucked under arm, Plastic Logic’s Que reader comes in high on price, but appropriately stacked with features. It’s one of only two new readers (the Skiff being the other) that use intuitive touch screens, rather than side buttons mounted on a bezel. Plastic Logic has also partnered with over 300 magazines to have them specially formatted for the Que, along with securing full access to the same Barnes & Noble e-book library used by the Nook. Even better, it will aggregate digital sources using RSS feeds, and even grab document files like .DOC and .XLS files off of Bluetooth-tethered cell phones, which can be configured to automatically deliver e-mail to the Que for big-screen reading.
Although initially quite similar to the Que, thanks to its large-format, touch-screen display, Skiff’s Reader also sets itself apart with some quite notable differences. For starters, it has a larger screen – a full 11.5-inches diagonally, compared to the 10.7-inch Que. Skiff uses a foil-backed e-ink screen, while the Que’s is bonded to flexible plastic, but both reach for a common purpose: They won’t shatter like glass e-ink screens. Rather than the single “home” button on the Que, the Skiff sports a wheel-like scrolling tab on the side, as well as up and down toggle buttons. Since its development has been backed by Hearst, you can also be sure that Popular Mechanics, Cosmo and Good Housekeeping will all make an appearance, though we don’t know much else. It all adds up to a reader that might, on (digital) paper, look better than the Que, but Plastic Logic will beat the Skiff to market with a release date in mid-April., while the Skiff has only been promised later this year.