Monday, September 22, 2008

iRex Digital Reader - Replaces Printer, Not Book or Laptop

iRex announced official details on its new Digital Reader (DR1000) today. It is priced at a very high starting price of $649. You'll have to pay $749 to get a built-in digitizer so you can take notes on it and $849 if you want Wi-Fi and Bluetooth thrown in. The device can read PDF, TXT, HTML, JPEG,and more.

The biggest question is brought up by the price tag -- is the iRex worth it? Particularly in light of being able to get an Amazon Kindle now for $279, which includes cellular connectivity? Kevin Tofel probably has the right insight on this -- it depends on if you view your eReader as replacing a book or a printer. I've been writing for a long time now about how much I would love to have a device that could display native PDF files. With all the journal articles, law reviews, and legal cases I have to read for school, the ability to not only read them, but also store, carry, and organize them on a device like this would be invaluable. One of the neater features of the DR1000 is the ability to print documents directly to it like it was a printer. (I'm assuming this would work on the wireless model?) I love the thought of being able to download documents to my laptop and simply print them over to my eReader to read outside or on the subway or in a coffee shop. These devices are meant to be a compliment to and not a substitute for a laptop (or desktop) computer.

It seems that there are two models of eReaders being developed -- book replacements like the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader; and printer replacements like the iRex Digital Reader and Plastic Logic's eBook Reader. What would be ideal for me is for Amazon to develop a large screen Kindle that could function as both. It would even be cooler if they allowed you to e-mail documents to the device and keep a backup of them and your file structure on their servers. (Like they do for books you buy from them and notes you make in them.) If that doesn't happen, does that mean I'll eventually be stuck carrying around two eReaders?

Regarding the price of the iRex Digital Reader, I think it is far too high for broad market appeal. The current pricing trend is downward for other eReaders. It is interesting to see iRex move in the opposite direction. It will be interesting to see how Sony and Plastic Logic price their new eReaders and how that affects iRex's pricing strategy. If iRex dropped their price in half, I might almost consider getting one.

Below are more photos of the DR1000, showing how it makes good use of the extra screen real estate. (HT Mobileread)

(click on image for larger view)

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