Plastic Logic E-Reader to Challenge Kindle

The e-book world will get markedly more interesting in January when Plastic Logic, a Mountain View, Calif. tech company, launches its eReader in the United States.

The device will compete directly with Amazon's Kindle. Just as Amazon provides all e-books for the Kindle, Barnes & Noble's giant e-bookstore, announced last week, will take on that role for Plastic Logic's gadget.

What will separate the new device from the Kindle is its touch screen; the Kindle is still button-bound. The Plastic Logic e-reader also will be able to access Wi-Fi hot spots, which the Kindle cannot.

The company is marketing the device not just as an e-book but also as a business document e-reader. Its line is, Why not download that back-breaking briefcase into a sleek, lightweight gadget? The touch screen is large, 8.5 by 11 inches, and allows annotation.

Plastic Logic does face hurdles. It is -- even in the new e-book world -- a latecomer to the game. The Kindle has carved out a market and dominates it. Plastic Logic has recognized, it seems, that there is an opening for a business document device. Still, when the Plastic Logic newcomer does finally land six months from now -- an eon in digiland -- who knows what new, hot model of Kindle might be available?

Here, Plastic Logic demonstrates its device at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

By Steven E. Levingston |  July 28, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
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You can talk about Kindle having carved out a market, but I look at it and I don't like the design ergonomics. (That the you-pay-extra-for-it cover ends up cracking the screen only enforces that for me.)

The design on this looks more intuitive - if I ever break down and get an e-Book reader, I think I'd rather use this type of interface.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | July 28, 2009 9:58 AM

PERHAPS it will be released in January 2010. This company originally said it would be released in January 2009 (at Demo Fall 08 in San Diego). It's now over a 1 year expected delay... I guess this is something you can expect from a product with a manager who used to work at Microsoft! Ha. Anyway, the latest press releases I've seen now say "early 2010" instead of "January 2010", so I'm getting anxious here.

Bonus features missed:
1) Thin. I mean, thinner than a notepad.
2) Flexible - you can bend it (not able to fold, which would be nice) and image is not distorted terribly.
3) It is supposed to be able to run MS Office docs (ppt, excel, word).
4) Annotation features.
5) You mentioned wi-fi, but didn't mention it will be 3G capable too.

Drawbacks missed:
1) Or should I say still 3G capable, why? For business users. And this will rely on the AT&T network (meaning you still can't download a book to read when you're stuck in a Metro delay - Kindle uses Sprint which can roam on Verizon so I suppose you can do this in the Metro, has anyone here tried it?)
2) slower response time than Kindle 2
3) no color
4) exclusive book supplier will be the untested brand new Barnes & Noble ebook site.
5) if you still can't browse the web, what good will wifi be?
6) Annotation would look better with a stylus - business people love styli!

Here is a more recent YouTube video from TechCrunch:

The guy questioning the demoer is awesome. Great questions.

Posted by: prokaryote | July 28, 2009 11:18 AM

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