More e-reader news – Apple ‘mediapad’ rumour, a cheap BeBook reader, and more

Is everyone making an ebook reader? Here’s a round-up of some interesting stuff from the last day or so.

By the way, after you’ve checked out this latest round of e-reader news, you might want to pop across to the poll running on the Digital Publishing Forum website. It asks, “What is the most likely way for people to read ebooks?”.

Now, on to the news and rumours.

First up, there’s another round of rumours about a pending release of a tablet-type device from Apple that would give the Kindle a run for its money in the ebook reading space, though the device certainly wouldn’t be marketed by Apple as an ebook reader. Now dubbed a ‘mediapad’ (at least in the rumour circles), it’s a cross between an iPhone and a netbook, with a larger screen and lighter weight, and it will handle all of your media needs, including movies and music. It goes without saying, it will also look better than the Kindle. The original Businessweek rumour even includes an artist’s rendition of the new device — check out the video for this, though it’s not quite in Apple’s design league. The same rumour has an ‘iPhone lite’ also on the horizon. All of this Apple activity will no doubt have impressed on Amazon the need to own a share of the iPhone/iPod universe too.

Closer to reality is the imminent launch of a new BeBook ebook reader. BeBook’s new model looks especially interesting because it includes a smaller 5-inch (127mm) e-Ink display and rumours have it possibly selling for around US$200, about US$150 less than the Kindle and Sony Reader. This is getting down to the price point of a low-end iPod Touch or mid-range cellphone so if true, it will get interesting. The BeBook is one of the handful of e-readers coming out of small start-ups, many of them European companies rebadging (and in some cases customising firmware) on units built in Asia. In this case, it’s probably from Chinese manufacturer Hanlin. 

Another Euro ebook that looks quite nice and has been around for a while now is the Cybook Gen 3 from Bookeen. It looks like this might finally be getting ePub support. It’s surprising that an otherwise good ebook reader has been lacking the ability to read ePub books for so long but this should certainly help its sales prospects.

Cybook Gen 3 ebook reader

Cybook Gen 3 ebook reader


And not forgetting yesterday’s story about a promising development in colour e-reading technology from tyre maker, Bridgestone.

No word yet on any of this reaching our shores but no doubt some enterprising souls will be keeping a close eye on things.

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