Review of every eReader at CES

A quick review of every eReader shown off at CES (so far) with additional thoughts.

Mirasol Color Display – Star of the Show

(Not technically an eReader) This is the most exciting eReader product shown at CES – check out the beautiful Mirasol video.

There are rumors that this might make it to Kindle 3 or Kindle 4 and if it does Kindle sales will have no problem exceeding every analyst’s predictions.

10 stars out of 10.

BeBook with Liquavista Color Display – The Runner-Up

The image is too hazy to figure out the screen quality and still BeBook’s color eReader prototype is the second most exciting eReader technology to show up at CES 2010.

Here’s an actual video of Liquavista in action.

9.5 stars out of 10.

PixelQi Multiple Mode Screens – The Ex-Champion

Pixel Qi have been promising magic for so long it takes away some of the charm.

Gizmodo write the typical ‘just spent 15 minutes reading up on eInk and now I’m an expert’ article and proclaim eInk is dead. Totally – it’s not like Mirasol and Liquavista have better looking color ePaper screens. Gizmodo do have a good Pixel Qi video.

It’s very promising and it’s very in the future. The only device that’s slated to use Pixel Qi screens so far is Notion Ink’s Adam tablet and it doesn’t arrive until summer 2010.

Unless Kindle 3 (or the new Sony Reader) has a February launch and is powered by Pixel Qi don’t really see Pixel Qi having the impact they’ve been promising.

8.5 stars out of 10.

Alex Reader – The Dual Screen Dark Horse

Alex has had my vote for the dark horse eReader of the year and Spring Design (the company behind Alex) is beginning to make some good moves –

  1. It struck a deal with Google to get 1 million free books. 
  2. It struck a deal with Borders to have a Borders ebook store on the Alex.  
  3. It announced a February 22nd release date.

The real magic behind Alex is that they get the ‘dual screen, Android powered eReader’ approach right.

  1. You can use the lower LCD screen for browsing the Internet. No artificial restrictions like the Nook has.
  2. You can switch any article from the LCD screen to the eInk screen to read on eInk. A very well thought out feature.
  3. Everything is fast and responsive.

All that potential is under threat though – Alex’s $399 price threatens to kill its chances even before release.

Hopefully Alex can figure out how to get to $250 soon. Check out a video of the Alex at this Kindle, Alex comparison post.

7 out of 10 stars. 8.5 stars if they can get the price down to $250.

Entourage Edge – The Dual Screen Textbook Reader

Entourage struck up a deal with McGraw Hill centering around textbooks and also joined the ‘Blackboard Alliance Program’ – Entourage Edge seems headed for the Textbook Reader market.

It’s a good decision because the Entourage Edge might end up making a great textbook eReader –

  1. The $490 price is not prohibitive given the features. 
  2. A 9.7″ eInk screen combined with a 10.1″ LCD screen is marvellous.  
  3. Has the same killer feature as the Alex of surfing on the LCD and then reading on the eInk.
  4. Very good note taking features.  
  5. There are some innovative design features.

YouTube has a good video of the Entourage Edge. Pocket Lint have some great Entourage Edge photos.

9 out of 10 stars.

Copia Reader and Platform – The Social eReader

In a world pushing color and flexibility Copia come in with the aim of making reading social again. Here’s a complete write-up on the Copia Reader and Platform.

  1. They’re keeping prices low.
  2. They have touch screens on most models.
  3. They have a very strong platform message revolving around openness and making reading social.

8 stars out of 10. More if they execute well on their vision.

Plastic Logic Que ProReader – Business eReader

Plastic Logic showed off the very impressive Que Reader – well, except for the price.

  1. The $649 price puts it firmly in the business eReader category. 
  2. It’s got a very impressive screen – 8.5″ by 11″, flexible, unbreakable. 
  3. It’s thin and light.
  4. Lots of great business features – Support for Word and Excel, Email Capabilities, Blackberry integration.

More on the Que Business eReader.

7 stars out of 10. This would be 9 stars if they knocked the price down by $150 on each model.

MSI Dual Screen eReader – The Pretend eReader

MSI decided the best way to enter the eReader market was with a dual screen netbook –

  1. Two 10″ LCD screens.
  2. There’s haptic feedback with the on-screen keyboard.  
  3. The two screens work really well together – It’s like a book with two LCD screens instead of paper.
  4. It’s scheduled to arrive this year.  
  5. They have Windows 7 on it. 
  6. Multi-touch.

Engadget have a good write-up including a nifty MSI Dual Screen eReader video.

8 stars out of 10. Would be 9 if they could fit in an eInk screen and get it to work with Windows 7.

Various eReaders

Don’t know what to write for most of these eReaders –

  1. Blio from Ray Kurzweil. Steve Ballmer saw something in the Blio to include it in his keynote. Actually, given the complete absence of revolutionary products in that keynote the Blio fits right in.
  2. Bookeen introduced a new eReader, the Orizon, that was wholly unremarkable.  
  3. The Intel Reader for the Blind. It’s still $1,500.
  4. Aiptek introduced a color eReader for children called – The Story Book.
  5. Fujitsu showed off its color FLEPia reader – they still have no plans to bring it to the US.
  6. Cool-er managed to introduce 3 new models with little fanfare – they’ll arrive over the course of the next few months and include touch-screens, WiFi and 3G.

Samsung Reader – the Write and Draw eReader

Samsung E6 and E101 get stuck in between the cool, color screen eReaders and the cheap, good value for money eReaders.

They don’t even manage to create their own special niche to justify their relatively high price.

  1. The $399 price is a deal breaker.
  2. The big feature is writing and drawing. It’s certainly a good feature – just not worth an extra $140. 
  3. An added bonus is that the touch layer doesn’t mess up readability.

Samsung just doesn’t do enough to stand out in a crowded eReader field.

CrunchGear has some good video on the Samsung E6.

7 stars out of 10. Pretty harsh and given that we’ve had color eReaders and unbreakable screens somewhat justified.

Skiff Reader – The Publisher Strikes Back eReader

Hearst revealed some details and we find out –

  1. The Skiff will be one of the biggest eReaders with a 11.5″ diagonal screen.
  2. It’ll use a metal foil backplane and be crack-proof and shatter-proof.
  3. Skiff will have a touch screen you can use with a stylus or with your finger.
  4. It supports 3G and WiFi.

It’s an impressive eReader with a well thought-out set of features.

Check out my review of Skiff Reader features.

8 stars out of 10. The price will be critical.

Notable by their Absence – Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, Apple iSlate

The biggest eReader heavyweights were missing. Here’s what they might have in store –

  1. Kindle 3 might be scheduled for February with a 5% chance it uses the Pixel Qi magic screen.
  2. Kindle 4 might feature a Mirasol color screen (Fall 2010).
  3. The next generation of Sony Readers will almost certainly arrive in February or March.
  4. We’re still a long ways away from Nook 2.
  5. Apple’s announcement scheduled for January 26th/27th means we might finally see the Apple iSlate.  

The Top 5 of CES 2010 – So Far

The eReaders that impressed the most –

  • Joint 1st – Mirasol and Liquavista color ePaper screens. The future has arrived.
  • 3rd – The Entourage Edge. Just a straight up great textbook eReader.
  • 4th – Pixel Qi magic screens. Hopefully they will release soon enough to actually revolutionize screen technology (Pixel Qi keep promising it). If Pixel Qi powered eReaders don’t release soon Mirasol will take the task of revolutionizing screen technology off of Pixel Qi’s hands.
  • 5th – The Skiff. It’s an initiative from Publishers and perhaps the price kills it. However, it shows genuine initiative and the flexible, unbreakable screen has everyone excited.

Plastic Logic and Alex miss out because of their ridiculous price points.

CES 2010 looked like it would be a total disappointment and then suddenly it brightened up – thanks to the unveiling of Mirasol and Liquavista displays. 2010 is going to be a great year.

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