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Plastic Logic reader, out in early 2010

Plastic Logic reader, out in early 2010

I don’t like to predict the future much (because I’m a short-sighted realist), but you’re looking at an exciting new prospect for publishing. The Plastic Logic Reader, slated for release in early 2010, is less than 7mm thick, letter-sized, and can read newspapers, books, magazines and the common computer formats such as Word, Excel, and PDFs.

That’s not all. It boasts a new durable plastic screen that resembles pulp, is touch-sensitive, and can connect wireless-ly to cellular and internet networks. How do I know so much? Because it’s one half of the bloody boxing ring in a fight with Amazon‘s Kindle, and is a topic I’m writing about in a feature article for a school magazine.

Personally, I feel this reader is a true beauty. Not just in form factor, but the idea of slinging a thin, letter-sized device that can replace all your textbooks, newspapers and computer documents from your notebook. Sure, it’s not a computer, and it’s not made for surfing the net. But at the same time, on occasion I just want to read without piggy-backing my heavy notebook.

Right now the biggest low blow is that it’s targeted for the business professional. And with the Kindle currently priced at US$359, don’t look at PL’s reader to be any lower than that. A higher price would be justified — for PL completely wipes the screen with Kindle — but as someone who will probably not earn as much as white-collar executives, this comes as a blow.

Like the Kindle, also don’t expect this to be available outside the U.S., at least not in the near future. Only now is the Kindle being slowly distributed in Europe, and who knows when it’ll be in Asia and other continents. The wireless connectivity that Kindle users enjoy in the U.S. is also not available overseas yet. One option for foreigners is to just buy a reader and upload documents by wire. But where’s the innovation in that?

All the while I haven’t been a fan of the e-book, audio-book, or any other new technology that aims to seduce print. But the Plastic Logic reader is a bit too sexy to give up. It’ll be on my wish-list very soon. In fact, right now.

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