Taiwanese company BenQ has just announced their entry into the increasingly competitive field of e-readers with their nReader device. It will debut in Taiwan in early 2010 along with an online book store. It will then see subsequent releases in Japan and China.
The nReader will have the industry standard six-inch display, although it will be a touch-screen electronic ink display. Even with its high costs, electronic ink is preferred by e-reader manufacturers due to its extremely low power consumption and good contrast. Not only is the contrast better, but it is easier on the eyes when you are reading in the long term. LCD displays leave your eyes strained after long uses of staring at an LCD monitor, E-INK is proving to be very popular for the last few years because of the amazing resolution and less eye strain after prolonged usage.
The nReader will also have 2GB of internal storage for eBooks and support formats such as ePub, HTML and PDF. BenQ is expecting to sell 300,000 units the next year and over 100 million e-readers in ten years. They are mainly focusing on the Asian market to stimulate long term growth.
E-readers also claim superior battery life, which can be measured in days rather than hours. For example, Apple claims a 10-hour battery life for its iPad, while BenQ says its nReader can last as long as two weeks without a recharge. The iPad has so far been touted less for this and more for its general-purpose nature, as e-reader displays aren’t currently fast enough to support video and aren’t rich enough even in color to accurately show photos.
Despite the addition of a color screen for the nReader, the device will not get video playback functionality. Many analysts say this will come with the next generation of color nReaders. The 6-inch nReader was released in January in Taiwan and Japan and costs the equivalent of about $280. It can play back music thanks to built-in speakers and a headphone connection.
The early 2010 entry into the color e-ink field is mainly due to the fact that in Quarter 4 of 2010 E-Reader screens will produce full color screens.