A German-based, innovative ebook distributor Txtr, operating in 25 countries and offering more than 700,000 titles, surprised everyone during Frankfurt Book Fair on Tuesday with an announcement of Txtr Beagle e-reader.
The device weights only 128 grams (vs Kindle Paperwhite’s 213 grams), has a 5″ e-ink display (with 8-level grayscale and 800×600 px resolution), and doesn’t come equipped with cables or power charger, because there is no need to use them. Beagle is charged with two 2 AAA batteries, simple as that. There is also no need to use USB cable to connect with a computer. The e-reader’s only connection type is Bluetooth. The default device to connect with is not a computer, but a smartphone.
The price is shockingly low. It’s only €9.90. That’s slightly below $13 – and that’s roughly 10 times lower than the newest front-lighted e-readers from Amazon and Barnes & Noble (Kindle Paperwhite and Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight).
There were speculations that by the end of this year e-readers will go free, and most market analysts were pointing at Amazon to do that, connecting it with a paid subscription like Amazon Prime.
What’s really striking, when you look at the electronic device with $13 price tag, is that it finally gives way to ebooks. So far, the devices were a major factor in decision-making. They were much more important than ebooks themselves. There is one problem with that: it’s not natural to have the medium outweigh the content. It’s like making a decision to buy J.K. Rowling’s new novel The Casual Vacancy, based on the quality and tint of paper used to print a book.
Txtr Beagle has the same level of price as thousands of ebooks. It puts the end to endless dilemma about “How many books do I have to read to pay back the Kindle.” For the first time I started to believe that the idea of “one-time e-reader” will break through. Just like in case of one-time cameras, you’ll buy it for one specific purpose. And this purpose will be reading one specific book.
The price will create a huge buzz around this device, that’s for sure. However, it’s not the price that makes Txtr Beagle really revolutionary. It’s the concept – based on a simple fact, that e-reader will never be our primary device. People always keep smartphones with them – and it’s smartphones (or what will evolve from them) to be our “hub devices”. Why do I need to have 3G in my e-reader if I have 3G in my smartphone and can buy/manage ebooks that way?
Beagle connects with the smartphone via Bluetooth. What you have to do is to send an ebook from your Txtr application. Currently Android-based smartphones are supported, but iOS compatibility is on the way.
In other words: you don’t have to buy the technology needed to buy ebooks, or manage your ebook library, because you already have it in your smartphone. Why pay extra money to double this functionality? What Txtr does offer is the larger e-ink display that allows to read ebooks in the bright sun. $13 for that is a fair price.
It will be exciting to see how Txtr’s e-reader is doing. Thanks to Beagle (and same-concept devices, which I’m sure will come soon), we can finally switch our attention from technology to content. Because e-readers are not here to play with. They are a here for one single purpose: to let us read books.
5″ E Ink display with 8-levels grayscale and 800 x 600 pixels resolution
128 grams (with batteries); 111 grams (without batteries)
140 x 105 x 4.8 mm (14mm at the battery side); Volume: 100 cm3
Power and Battery Life
Recommended battery types – AAA, 1.5V lithium, alkaline batteries or NiMH rechargeable batteries. Battery Life: Read for more than 1 year (12-15 books per year with normal use. Actual lifetime may vary by battery type.). Voltage: 3.0 V
Red and blue LED colors on front side indicate the Bluetooth state and battery power state
To get more books from user’s library requires (1) pairing via Bluetooth of smartphone (2) Txtr Android app with Beagle support
4 GB. Number of books cached: up to 5
Handles all formats supported by smartphone (epub, pdf)
Included in the Box
Txtr Beagle, 2 AAA batteries and Quick Start Guide