Plastic Logic unveiled its long-promised Que e-reader for business professionals today at the International CES trade show.
Company officials said the device will ship in mid-April in two versions: One is a $649, 4GB model with capacity for 35,000 documents, and the other a $799, 8GB model that holds 75,000 documents. The 4GB version will operate over Wi-Fi, but the 8GB model will run on Wi-Fi and 3G networks from AT&T with no added monthly subscription cost, officials said.
Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta showed off the sleek touch-screen device, which is 8.5 by 11 in. The display is 10.7 in. diagonally and made of shatterproof plastic, making it the largest display on the e-reader market, Plastic Logic officials said. It is about 0.3 in. thick and weighs 17.2 oz.
With the touch screen, users can annotate documents on a displayed page, circling or writing text using a finger or keyboard. The company has also partnered with publishers and media companies to provide access to newspapers and periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, and to trade journals, including Computerworld, Network World and PC World.
Archuleta said the touch screen will better suit the needs of business professionals "who need to read," as opposed to more casual readers who are buying consumer-oriented e-readers such as the Kindle from Amazon.com, the Sony Reader and the Nook from Barnes & Noble.
Barnes & Noble will sell the Que e-reader along with its already-shipping Nook device, noting they will serve two different markets, officials said.
James Brehm, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said the Que responded rapidly to his touch during a two-minute session he had using it. "Compared to other touch screens, this is the best I've seen," he said, noting that he has found the Nook's response fairly slow.
Brehm has been somewhat cautious about the 2010 market for e-readers, with estimates from other analysts ranging from 5 million to 15 million of the devices shipping this year. However, he said the long-term future for e-readers is promising. The devices will "fill a niche" between smartphones and laptops, he said, repeating the theme Plastic Logic articulated today.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .