Sharp is showing off its 5.5 inch and 10.8 inch Galapagos tablets at CES this week. Both tablets run a highly customized version of Google Android with a heavy focus on eBooks, magazines, comic books, and other digital media, although there’s also a web browser. Unfortunately the WiFi wasn’t working at the Sharp booth, so I couldn’t test the browsers, but the digital media software seemed pretty interesting.
The home screen basically looks like a digital book shelf, and you can drag the screen to the left or right to see additional shelves.
The 5.5 inch version feels really nice in the hand and seems like a great size for eBooks, while the 10.8 inch version is a great size for reading digital comic books — but it feels kind of big and heavy to hold in one hand and I’m not sure it would be my first choice for a reading tablet.
Sharp has worked out deals with digital content publishers in Japan, but it’s not clear whether the company will work out similar deals with Western publishers before launching the tablets in the US, or if Sharp could partner with an existing US book retailer such as Barnes & Noble or Kobo. It’s also possible that Sharp could release the tablets in the US as general purpose Android tablets. They’re fully capable of running Android apps.