The Txtr Beagle e-reader will cost just $13, but there’s a catch

beagle txtr ereaderBerlin-based startup Txtr has announced the Beagle, a brand-new e-reader that could cause a shake up in its market to rival that of the Amazon Kindle Fire’s effect on cheap tablets.

The headline is its projected cost, just 9.90 euros, or about $13. It’s difficult to imagine any piece of consumer electronics — decent consumer electronics — costing so little, and to bring the Beagle in at this price has indeed meant some compromises.

Txtr says the Beagle is the world’s smallest e-reader, measuring 5mm thick at its slimmest point — it has a Galaxy S2-style bump, which we’ll come back to in a moment — and it weighs 128 grams. The screen is a 5-inch E Ink display with an 800 x 600 pixel resolution, and there is 4GB of internal memory. So far, so good. It gets better too, as it supports both .pdf and .epub book formats, along with all others normally supported by a smartphone, according to Txtr’s website.

Here’s where things change, as the Beagle doesn’t have Wi-Fi, and instead uses Bluetooth to transfer books from a smartphone or Txtr’s own Android app. Because the Beagle doesn’t have an operating system of its own, it will rely on the accompanying smartphone app to do everything except turn the pages, right down to altering the font size. There’s also no built-in battery either, and that lump at the bottom of the device is for two AAA batteries.

Companion reader

At first this sounds like a big problem, but Txtr says that two decent cells will provide a year’s worth of reading time, based on the average person reading 12 to 15 books. This also means there’s no charger unit or cables needed, and fewer components inside the device too.

But does abandoning a rechargeable battery, Wi-Fi and ignoring new technology really mean an e-reader can be sold for so little? Sadly, the answer is no, as according to a report in Der Spiegel, the Beagle is going to be something called a “companion reader,” and will be sold as an add-on with a new smartphone contract. This subsidized pricing model means the price shortfall will probably find its way into your monthly payments.

The device is still a prototype, and isn’t likely to launch anywhere except Germany this side of Christmas, plus Txtr doesn’t have the best track record with e-readers either, as a previous Kindle challenger failed to catch on. However, the Beagle’s bare minimum approach and stupidly low price are suitably different to anything else on the market, and the world does love a bargain. Are we looking at a future hit?

Mobile

5G is the swift kick VR and AR gaming needs to come to fruition

There's a lot of hype surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality, but is it really the next big thing? We take a look at where the new mediums stand, as well as how 5G is poised to help them break into the mainstream.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for February 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Smart Home

Google Home Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot: Which smart home speaker is better?

We put the two most popular smart home speakers -- the Google Home Mini and the 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dot -- together and tested them on appearance, audio, and abilities. So which should you buy? Find out how they did in our showdown.
Mobile

Own an unlocked Galaxy S9? The U.S. Android Pie update has landed

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Deals

This discounted smartwatch is a cheap Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa alternative

The Amazfit Bip isn't an Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, but at the discounted price of $67, it's a very affordable alternative packed with useful features. With built-in GPS and 30-day battery life, this cheap smartwatch is a great option to…
Gaming

Xbox's app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Mobile

It looks like Google may get rid of the back button in Android Q

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system -- here's everything we know so far.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Social Media

Instagram to make giving easier with a Stories donation sticker for fundraisers

Instagram is preparing to launch a donation feature within Stories that would allow users to raise cash for a range of nonprofit charities. The company confirmed it's aiming to launch the donation sticker later this year.
Mobile

The Huawei P30 will zoom into view on March 26 in Paris

The Huawei P30 Pro will be announced on March 26, 2019. It has already started to leak ahead of this date, and expectations are high that the company will improve even further on the P20 Pro's camera.
Mobile

First phone specs reveal premium is the path for Vivo spinoff Iqoo

A new smartphone brand has launched. It's called Iqoo, and it's a sub-brand of Vivo, the Chinese device manufacturer owned by BBK Electronics. Excitingly, details about its first phone are slowly being released.