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Asus e-reader may undercut Kindle

Posted at 07 September 2009 19:23 CEST by Jared Newman

Computer maker Asus could give the e-reader market a kick in the pants with a product that’s cheaper than the competition.

Details are hard to come by, but an Asus spokesman confirmed to the Times of London that two e-reader models — one budget and one premium — are on the way. The cheaper model (not pictured below) is expected to cost around £100, or $150.

e-readerconcept

Though the dimensions and other specs for the budget e-reader (cleverly dubbed the “Eee Reader” after Asus’ netbook range) aren’t known, that price point would give Asus a $150 advantage over Amazon’s Kindle 2 and a $50 advantage over the cheapest of Sony’s e-readers.

The move would be vintage Asus, as the company previously startled PC manufacturers with its dirt-cheap Eee PC netbooks. When consumers started moving in droves towards the $300 to $400 mini-notebooks, other companies had to start offering their own netbooks at competitive prices. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happens with e-books.

After all, a recent survey by Forrester Research found that most consumers won’t go for an e-reader until it costs $50 — less than the price of just a screen in today’s products. Asus’ offering obviously wouldn’t hit Forrester’s ideal price, but it would lead the trend of ever-cheaper e-readers.

In addition to a budget offering, Asus intends to offer a dual-screen reader with a hinged spine, allowing it to fold open like a book. Users will be able to slide a finger across the touch display to flip pages from one screen to the next.

It’s not known how much this premium device will cost, but the decision to simply offer cooler technology than the competition is decidedly not a classic Asus move. I’m excited to see how that works out.

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