E-Book Reader Offerings Multiply

e-readersAmazon continues to dominate the e-book reader market with its Kindle product line. The Kindle-2 ($299 retail, 6” screen) and recently released Kindle-DX ($489 retail, 9.7” screen) have access to the Amazon e-book catalogue.

Downloading is quick and easy with the Sprint Nextel network. Web-browsing, text high-lighting and note-taking are possible using the built in keyboard.

Sony has announced their third device in the Reader platform. Looking to address the concerns of Kindle users, the upcoming “Daily Edition” PRS-2121 ($399, 6”) as well as the in-production “Touch” PRS-600 ($299, 6”), featuring a touch-screen. Note taking, editing and book access are implemented on-screen. Another key difference from Kindle is the ability to view pages in either standard or landscape mode. Sony continues to offer their entry-level “Pocket” PRS-300 ($199, 5”) without the touch-screen. Materials are downloaded using the AT&T network. Barnes & Noble has partnered with Sony for their e-book sales.

Challenging Amazon on the catalogue offering, Sony supports free e-books from Google as well as electronic check out from your local libraries. Overdrive, Inc. uses your zip-code to locate e-books available to loan for up-to 22 days. Of course, you must have a valid library card from the participating library. In contrast to Amazon’s proprietary data-format, Sony also supports works in MS-Word, Adobe-PDF and JEG formats.

Noticeably absent in the e-book reader market is Apple. While rumors persist of a tablet reader, nothing official has been announced. IPhone and ITouch users can buy and download e-books through ITunes. Kindle allows users with both devices to synchronize their readings to seamlessly move between the two devices (no additional charge for I-viewing).

Microsoft offers a free reader program running on all Windows and Embedded devices. No plans as yet for a dedicated hardware device.

On the horizon for Christmas 2009 and early 2010 are three new players in the e-book reader market. IREX Technologies (a Royal Phillips Electronics spin-off) will be the next entrant with the DR800SG, an 8.1” touch-screen supporting 3G connectivity using the Verizon wireless network. Electronic books will be available through Barnes & Noble e-book store.

Plastic Logic will offer a 9” touch-screen with both WiFi and 3G connectivity in partnership with AT&T and Barnes & Noble. Pricing is still to be announced.

Last into the market is a rumored device from Time, Inc. Product announcements are expected in time for the holiday shopping.

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