Plastic Logic, a US company whose planned electronic reader has attracted a lot of media buzz, said Monday that it will announce the availability and pricing of the device for business professionals in January.
The Mountain View, California-based firm said it will unveil the details about its first e-reader, to be called the "QUE," at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 7.
Another US company, Spring Design Inc. announced plans meanwhile to release an e-reader known as "Alex" powered by Google open-source Android software.
The Fremont, California-based Spring said it was currently in discussions with major content partners and planned to release the device later this year.
The Alex features dual screens -- a main electronic paper display screen and a secondary color liquid crystal display (LCD) screen for Web browsing.
The announcements by Plastic Logic and Spring Design came one day ahead of the expected entry into the increasingly crowded e-reader field of US bookstore giant Barnes and Noble.
Barnes and Noble has called a press conference in New York on Tuesday. It has declined to reveal what it will be about but there has been widespread speculation in technology blogs that the company plans to unveil an e-reader.
Barnes and Noble is also a content provider to Plastic Logic.
Plastic Logic said the "QUE" will be aimed at business professionals as opposed to current models such as Amazon's Kindle and others that target casual and leisure readers.
"In addition to connecting its users with their business and professional newspapers, books and periodicals, QUE supports the document formats business users need (including PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents) and features powerful tools for interacting with and managing the content," it said.
The QUE is thin -- less than one-third of an inch (0.85 centimeters) thick -- lightweight and wireless-enabled, and has a bigger screen than most current e-readers.
Other companies offering e-readers include Japan's Sony, Britain's Interead, and Dutch company IREX Technologies.
Apple is also rumored to be coming out with a portable tablet computer early next year that may double as an e-reader.
Forrester Research estimates that three million e-readers will be sold in the United States this year, up from a previous forecast of two million units, and for e-reader sales to double to six million units next year.
(c) 2009 AFP
Explore further: Will our smart gadgets become trusted or oppressive companions?