Asus is reportedly planning to launch a dedicated eBook reader by the end of the year. DigiTimes reports that Asus CEO Jerry Shen has confirmed plans to launch an eBook reader as part of the company’s Eee line of products.

Digital books have been around for ages. But the relative success of the Amazon Kindle has led to some real growth in the market recently, and Sony’s new eBook readers have some pretty slick features like touchscreens and the ability to check out digital books from your local library. If the market continues to grow, this could become a whole new category of consumer electronics for PC makers to explore.

DigiTimes also quotes industry sources saying that MSI is looking at the eBook space.

But I’m still curious about whether people want or need single-purpose devices like eBook readers? We’ve already seen that you can turn a netbook into an eBook reader that also happens to have WiFi, in some cases a keyboard, and the ability to do more than just read books.

On the other hand, dedicated eBook readers are typically smaller, lighter, easier to hold in one hand, and have batteries that last for weeks, not just hours. They also tend to have higher contrast displays. But I’d love to see a device that combines some of the features of netbooks and eBook readers with a Pixel Qi screen that works in high contrast eBook mode and which is also capable of displaying videos with full color saturation. On the other hand, I doubt you’d be able to pick up such a device for less than $199 anytime soon.

What do you think? Would you buy a dedicated eBook reader? How much would you be willing to pay for one? Or do you already own one? Sound off in the comments.

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14 replies on “Asus eying the eBook reader space”

  1. You need to check out the Pixel Qi, that this article mentions. Yes it is lcd, but it is reflective and non-reflective. It has a higher dpi than the kindle 205 dpi compared to 167 dpi, it has a super fast refresh rate and looks just like eink paper. No strain on the eye. Reviews have said it looks better than the kindle. You can read indoors, outdoors or at night with backlight turned on. I have seen some videos of websites that have tested it and it looks awesome. Already ebook reader and netbook companies are looking at it. Battery life is not as high as the eink, as it is lcd, but it gives you the ability to also have color and video… perfect for a netbook. Still 40 hrs of batter life is pretty good.

    If they can get the netbooks lighter with a swivel pixel qi screen, then I will be all over that. Since I expect this to happen by spring 2010, I just might hold out on buying a dedicated eink ebook reader.

  2. You bet I’d buy an ebook reader if it has color. I own an eBookwise and have owned a Cybook. There are those of us who want dedicated ebook readers, otherwise what’s the point? I can read anything on my notebook but I want the feel of really reading a book and a reader does just that. The only reason I haven’t bought a Kindle is that it doesn’t have color and my eBookwise with its greenish-gray background comes close. I want a reader for reading, period. Don’t get me wrong, I love computers – I’m on number 19 since 1979 when I put my first one together but they’re for computing – not reading novels. Sadly, it seems most people who are interested in readers are interested in them as gadgetry. When I read a book on a dedicated reader it is the same to me as reading a paper book. Go Asus!

  3. The issue is that ebook readers have screens that are easier on the eye.

    Why won’t someone create a netbook with such a screen? A general purpose one with a screen like the kindle’s DX? I don’t care about color, grey scale is enough. Just give me a general purpose computer with such a screen, PDF and internet!

  4. It’s uncanny that you posted this, Brad. I’ve been thinking the past two weeks of asking if anyone has heard anything about Pixel Qi lately, seeing as the screens are supposed to be hitting the netbook scene late this Fall. I’ve been holding off on a netbook because I’m waiting for an outdoor-ready screen. But, as the market has evovled, I’ve been sad to see the 8.9 inch screen go – along with the matte screens going, too.

  5. I’ve read whole novels on a variety of devices — Samsung Saga, Eee PC and other netbooks, and several eReaders. I like the eReader experience the best as it’s easier on my eyes. If there was a way to have e-ink on a netnook/notebook/tablet that didn’t take away from the regular computing experience, I’d be all over that.

    Given that I prefer e-ink, I would consider buying a dedicated reader even if it was a multitasker if the prices came down.

    1. eInk is easier on the eyes, but a screens that refreashes faster would be advantagous in the other direction. Everyone is working on HDTVs that are faster 120Hz, 240 Hz, and soon 480Hz; so assume computer monitors will also be speeding up. I see no reason why we can’t have monitors with 2 ms response rates or that dip into microseconds of time.

      That’s the real question is, “What is better?” An eInk that isn’t refershing at all thus no flicker, or making the flicker so fast that not even your brain would notice. Hybrids are posisble but the costs would be the most for a hybrid.

      I’m guessing that given what we want from these computers or eBooks the solution will be faster screen refreash for that tech.

      1. eInk still has the advantage of having no real power draw except on the page change. This has some real advantages, especially if eInk gets a faster response time.

        I still think I prefer a regular screen and one less device, but that’s a really interesting feature.

  6. Okay three things: 1) a netbook is unweildy open and on ist side 2) a netbooks weighs twice as much as a eReader with teh same screen size 3) your current cellphone likely has a downloadable Mobipocket eBook reader already.

    First of all the netbook makers who want to make flip-tablet netbooks need to hit the CAD/CAM and make lighter tablet netbooks. Thin thin thin needs their mantra….亭亭玉立. One they get slim and graceful down they can then tell people to buy their stuff instead of a Kindel.

    1. Personally, I read novels just fine on my pocket pc, though I prefer the larger screen of my netbook sometimes — that may change when I upgrade to a phone with a 3.5″ screen, though.

      But I also keep programming books handy too, and most of those are completely hopeless on a phone. Even ebook readers like the kindle don’t handle PDFs (the usual format for technical ebooks) properly — well until the big $500 one, anyway. (And phones and ebook readers aren’t even in the conversation for comics.)

      It’s a little awkward on its side and a little heavy, but so far, I don’t mind that very much. And it’s definitely easier than dragging around yet another device.

      So here’s a vote for netbooks as ebook readers, and I also agree that Pixel Qi screens would be a terrific enhancement.

      1. Agreed! Once we get netbooks that are thinner, lighter, has swivel screen, and has pixel qi screen then I will gladly throw out all my print books and never look back. All the tech seem to be in place for that already. Some manufacturer just needs to bring it together in one machine with a reasonable, netbook-level price. I have a hunch that we’ll get something like that (though a tad expensive at first) this winter.

  7. I am using my Asus netbook to read eBooks right now. But I am very tempting to buy a dedicated eBook reader. As the writer said here, a eBook reader is smaller (it can be put in my pocket), lighter and lasts longer without charging, which are great for reading books. One thing I am not sure and need to do some research is software. None of the eBook reader software running on netbooks meets all my needs. I wonder if the reader software running on eBook readers is better.

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