Wednesday, October 7, 2009

eReaders To Come: Plastic Logic

Two photos of the upcoming eBook reader from Plastic Logic:

It has a "broadsheet" 8.5-inch x 11-inch screen, making it bigger than the current size champion, the Kindle DX, while being even slimmer than the more petite regular Kindle.

Coverage of the new Plastic Logic entrant in the eBook reader wars can be found at:

The Plastic Logic has a touchscreen interface to help you access and read more than 700,000 titles at the Barnes & Noble eBook Store and elsewhere. The keyboard is a virtual, onscreen one. The screen is made of E Ink, as is the Kindle's, meaning that any one monochrome image can stay put for any amount of time without drawing down the battery. (But there's no backlight, so reading in the dark is out, and E Ink causes a distinct lag at each page turn.)

The Plastic Logic's touchscreen apparently supports both fingertip gestures and the use of an included stylus tool for scribbling annotations and notes.

Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity will keep users from having to cable their Plastic Logics to their computers to complete their book downloads.

Unlike rival readers, the Plastic Logic's huge screen lets you view things besides eBooks with no eyestrain: PDF files, Word documents, spreadsheets and even PowerPoint presentations can typically be displayed full-size.

It looks as if the B&N/Plastic Logic reader is going to support, as its main eBook format, the one called EPUB. EPUB is widely known as an "open" format that lacks DRM (Digital Rights Management) to prevent the copying and redistributing of eBook content. Plastic Logic users will thus be able to read (and redistribute) the hundreds of thousands of public-domain eBooks available from Google Books. But they'll also have access to hundreds of thousands of non-public-domain EPUB titles at the B&N Store, and they will in fact have so-called "Adobe ADEPT DRM" added to their EPUB content. Current bestsellers in that encrypted format will sell for $9.99.

Up in the air is whether this reader will, right away or in the future, handle the alternative DRM format that B&N subsidiaries FictionWise and support, and that works on the Sony Reader. That format is referred to as "eReader format" and also as the .pdb format.

Adobe's ADEPT — which stands for "Adobe Digital Editions Protection Technology" — is used for DRM-protecting both EPUB and .pdb books. It's different from the DRM that Amazon uses on Kindle editions. My impression is that the B&N/Plastic Logic reader will eventually use both EPUB and .pdb eBooks and will turn into (or so its backers hope) a Kindle Killer par excellence.

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