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eReader manufacturers are scrambling to find the right combination of features to win over the most customers. A frequent complaint of folks who do not yet own eReaders is they cost too much. Some of us folks who own eReaders think they're damned expensive, but obviously not too much so. Two reasons dedicated Readers are so expensive is because of e-ink and— at least in the case of Kindle and the soon-to-come Sony— the 3G wireless connection.

Now Asus, makers of inexpensive netbooks, is entering the eReader market with a very interesting variation. The Asus entry is pretty much a netbook reconfigured to work as an eReader. It opens like a book, with a hinge down the middle and a screen on either side. The reader can either have both "pages" showing the book text, just like a printed book, or they can make one page the book and the other a web browser. Or, the screens can be a web browser and a a virtual (touch screen) keyboard.

Designers of e-ink readers have tried to approximate the book by making the screen as easy on the eyes as paper is— not backlit, high contrast. But all those e-ink readers show only one screen, not booklike at all. So, will an LCD double screen (which offers full color) on a netbook offer enough of the "real book" experience to win over some folks, especially if it's dirt cheap by comparison?

My guess is yes, it will work for a significant percent of folks. I don't think it will wipe out the e-ink readers because they offer something of value for voracious readers who read for hours at a stretch— no eyestrain. Plus, Kindles offer "ease-of-use," the ultimate in instant gratification, a.k.a. wireless delivery.

But maybe Asus will find that the password to mass market acceptance is "cheap"?






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