LAS VEGAS — Segmentation of the electronic book market has begun in earnest with the arrival of the Que, a new reader aimed at executives and traveling business people.
Plastic Logic’s much anticipated reader will go on sale in April for $649 for a 4 gigabyte model with W-iFi and Bluetooth radios and $799 for an 8 gigabyte model that also has 3G wireless service from AT&T.
The device is 8.5 by 11 inches with a black and white touchscreen and a single button on the bezel, for returning to the home screen. The home screen displays a calendar, including appointments synced with Outlook, as well as favorite documents that can be pinned to the screen.
Barnes & Noble will carry the Que in its stores and powers its bookstore. Plastic Logic also has partnerships with numerous newspapers, magazines and wire services offering subscriptions on the device.
To cater to the news industry, Plastic Logic introduced a template called truVue to make it easier for papers to format their products for display on the Que.
Also announced today is a new online storefront to pre-order the device and explore its digital bookstore.
But the device is intended to be more than a device for reading books and papers. It’s intended to replace the sheaf of printed materials that business people travel with, and includes tools for annotating and editing on the device.
Instead of pursuing a paperless office or paperless bookshelf, “what we are driving on is the paperless briefcase,” Plastic Logic Chief Executive Richard Archuleta said at a news conference announcing the Que on the CES show floor.
Documents, including Word, Excel and PDF files, can be added to the device by dragging them to a Que icon loaded onto a PC desktop. The Que can also share data wirelessly with BlackBerry smartphones.
Its software includes a touch keyboard that can be called up on the screen and a search function, but their design isn’t as slick and advanced as the hardware, which is about the same thickness as a pad of legal paper.
The conference was crowded with reporters and managers from news organizations such as USA Today, which have high hopes for electronic readers to help revive their industry.
Plastic Logic was started after researchers at Cambridge University in England developed ways to print transistors on plastic film, instead of silicon, using inkjets. It now has a factory in Dresden, Germany, and plans to introduce multiple readers for different markets such as students, teachers and healthcare workers in the future.