The startup has demonstrated prototypes of the QUE, most recently last month at the DEMOFall 08 conference. The next public demonstration will be Jan. 7 at the International Consumer Electonics Show in Las Vegas, Nev.
At that time, Plastic Logic plans to say when the QUE will be available. The electronic reader is expected to compete head-to-head with the Amazon Kindle DX. Both devices have roughly 10-inch diagonal electronic paper displays that are expected to appeal to business professionals. Amazon and rival Sony also make e-readers with six-inch diagonal screens.
To make its device more appealing to professionals, Plastic Logic has added support for PowerPoint and Excel documents. "More than an eReader, QUE means business," Richard Archuleta, chief executive of Plastic Logic, said in a statement.
Both the Kindle DX and the QUE are about 8.5 inches by 11 inches and a third of an inch thick. The devices use a black-and-white electronic display based on technology from E-Ink.
The DX and QUE also include a connection to a 3G wireless network for downloading books. Amazon provides access through Whispernet, and Plastic Logic has partnered with AT&T. The QUE, unlike the DX, will also offer integrated Wi-Fi.
Amazon is the exclusive retailer for buying books and periodicals for the Kindle product line. Plastic Logic plans to offer content through an online QUE store powered by Barnes & Noble. Sony offers its own eBook Store for the Sony Reader.
Plastic Logic is likely to price the QUE at the higher end of the market, given the device's screen size and its focus on business users. The Kindle DX sells for $489, with the six-inch Kindle costing $279. Prices for the Sony e-readers starts at $200 for a "pocket edition" with a five-inch display.
Plastic Logic, Amazon, and Sony are not the only players in the emerging e-reader market. While Amazon and Sony today account for the majority of sales, competition will be heating up not just from Plastic Logic, but from Spring Design and IREX.
In October, Forrester Research upped its projection for e-reader sales this year to 3 million from 2 million, with 30% of the purchases occurring during the holiday season. E-reader sales next year could exceed 6 million units, according to Forrester.
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