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The QUE Plastic Logic eBook Reader: The New Kid on the Block

The Plastic Logic QUE eBook reader has been unveiled, but not yet launched. Nor has a price been stated, although the objective of the development has been described by Plastic Logic as providing a produce for the business market, rather than for consumers. This being the case, the price could be high, and there is no other product available with the capabilities of the QUE.

Author: Marco Gustafsson
Date: Dec 9, 2009 - 2:20:22 PM

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The new kid on the eBook reader is the QUE by Plastic Logic. Pronounced like the letter 'Q', this has yet to be launched, and appears to be an innovation in eReader technology in the features and capabilities it is claimed to offer: these will be detailed later.

For now, however, the QUE appears to be the first of a new generation of eReaders expected to be launched in 2010 by those companies waiting to see the best that Amazon could produce. The Kindle DX is seriously challenged by the QUE, but how do the prices compare? The answer is that we don't know yet because Digital Plastic has yet to launch and price their product. However, it seems that steps are being taken for us to expect a much higher price that the Kindle or any other consumer oriented ebook reader.

The Kindle was always going to be set up ready for attack by any company that had belief that eBooks were the reading experience of the future. The same is true of eReading creations by Sony and any other business that rested on its laurels. Plastic Logic's QUE is a step beyond anything we have seen to date, and no doubt there will be many steps beyond.

Don't get too worried about the predicted high price: any business that publicly states that its new product will target the business market in eReaders rather than ordinary consumers is either trying to extract a high price for its product or genuinely has something light years ahead of the Kindle or the PRS-700. Hardware predominantly designed for a business market will likely offer no better a book reading experience than any other eReader.

There is evidence that the QUE is not a serious competitor to a normal eReader. The fact that Barnes & Noble are selling the QUE in their own stores alongside their own Nook indicates that perhaps there is a significant difference in intended use - and certainly in price for B&N to agree to this agreement with Plastic Logic!

There are no doubts that the QUE is ahead of the Amazon and Sony products although how much ahead is for you to decide. It is extremely slim, to begin with, and its 8.5 x 11 inch screen beats the Kindle DX hands down. In fact, the screen is not only shatterproof, but also capacitive without any loss in sensitivity that such layered screens often show. It doesn't need a stylus, and also offers 3G and wifi. However, a big down is that it uses AT&T 3G!

Plastic Logic claim that they are not competing with the Kindle, which can only mean that it is not intended for the consumer market. If it is true that this eReader is targeting the business market only then the likelihood is that it will command a high corporate price, and that it is not intended for reading showbiz mags or popular fiction, but spreadsheets, reports and AGM minutes. It will basically put in easily-read eReader format what would otherwise have been separate printed sheets that would have had to be distributed to each individual. One distributed electronic file against potentially dozens or even hundreds of photocopied or printed paper sheets. As it was noted in the article "New Generation of e-Readers Contributes to Environmental Protection", so-called green reading reduces an individualís literary carbon footprint intertwining human interaction and the planetís lifespan together on a favorable level (Digital Book Readers).

Let's take the view that the QUE will have to be launched to consumers in order to profit - and that is a fairly safe assumption to make. Its competition is the current technology: Cool-er and Kindle, for example. These are not technologically demanding standards to beat, mainly because the eBook reader market has not been demanding to date. Now, however, consumers are beginning to sit up and notice the benefits of eReaders, both from a convenience and an environmental point of view. The battle is on.

So where does Plastic Logic figure when we assume that Amazon, Sony, Apple and Microsoft are going to take notice and start working on something other than what has been to date a product to meet the relative low demands of a niche market? Actually, surprisingly well! It reads business formats such as PDF, Excel, PowerPoint and Word, and you can even edit the MS Office documents on the screen.

Unlike the Kindle, the QUE enables users to jump about between documents, an important business requirement. In fact, it appears that once Plastic Logic launches this product they will have few, if any, competitors in the commercial eReader business market. The company has content partnerships with a number of publishers such as Barnes and Noble (that powers the QUE store), the Financial Times, USA Today, Zinio and Ingram Digital plus others.

It should by now be obvious why Digital Plastic claims the QUE not to compete with the Kindle. In fact it should be the other way around: there is no way the Kindle could compete with the QUE in the business market. There is just one problem though: it has yet to be launched, and all we have read to date are no more than promises. However, if the QUE meets up to these promises, then others have a way to go to compete for the commercial eReader business.

Marco Gustafsson is author of articles on eBook'>eBook Readers, e-inc technology and electronic books. Visit Digital'>Digital Book Readers to find more information and discover new dimension of reading.

View all articles by Marco Gustafsson

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