Computer maker Asus may be getting ready to launch an e-reader that would mimic the traditional book, be in full colour and come loaded with a variety of innovative features.

Jerry Shen, Asus' president, reportedly confirmed to The Times that Asus is planning on launching its e-reader before the end of the year. The device is being dubbed the Eee Reader, named after Asus' line of moderately priced laptop and desktop computers the Eee PC and Eee Box.

While nothing is official yet, the company is reportedly considering a budget and premium model of the Eee Reader. Details are slim about what these devices would look like, and the details that have been reported are mostly based on speculation and prototypes. But according to the description from The Times, the premium version looks set to knock the socks off competitors like Amazon's Kindle reader. Asus' top of the line Eee Reader would be a dual screen, full-colour device with both screens connected by a hinge to emulate the look and feel of a traditional book. Asus showed off a concept version of this device earlier this year.

But Asus' device may be more than just an e-reader; it will reportedly be able to simultaneously read text on one screen and view a web page on the other. Dual web/reading access could be a handy feature for students who want to have an online reading guide open while they study, and every day readers could enhance their understanding of a book by referring to online sources relating to their text.

One of the screens may also have the ability to convert into a touch-based keypad, turning the device into some sort of netbook for easy web access. Other features include Wi-Fi, speakers, webcam and microphone.

Details about the budget version are even fewer than the premium model. The only information The Times has is that the budget version would compete against other moderately priced e-readers. The Times doesn't say whether that means the budget version of the Eee-reader would have dual screens, full colour or any of the networking features found in the premium version. A cheap price would be the budget Eee Reader's biggest feature.

See also:

Amazon Kindle DX review

Amazon Kindle 2 review

Sony Reader PRS-505 review

PC World magazine US