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BenQ shows off first e-reader

nReader displays books and plays music

BenQ put its nReader on display at Taiwan's IT Month exhibition in Taipei and representatives say it will roll out in Taiwan and China this January for NT$8,990 (£170).

The e-reader sports a 6in touchscreen and plays music in addition to displaying e-books. The device is thin and light with digital ink quality similar to that of Amazon's Kindle. Users can download e-books and music wirelessly via 3G mobile technology and Wi-Fi.

The new e-reader is just one of dozens of new Kindle-like products set to launch over the next few months from Taiwanese and Chinese companies. A subsidiary of Foxconn Electronics, Netronix, will start selling e-readers in China via mobile phone giant China Mobile, while Delta Electronics is working on e-readers and e-paper. Analysts expect Asus and MSI soon to reveal dual-screen netbooks, with an LCD screen and an e-reader screen in one.

BenQ's nReader is made by a subsidiary of LCD screen giant AU Optronics, SiPix Imaging. The company's digital ink technology competes with that of E-ink Corporation of the US, which has agreed to be purchased by Taiwan's Prime View International, the manufacturer of Kindle.

An e-book store will launch at the same time as BenQ's nReader with thousands of books, magazines, newspapers and other content on offer, a BenQ representative said. The nReader will be able to hold around 4,000 books in its 2GB of flash memory. Users can add capacity through a MicroSD expansion slot to enable the nReader to store over 10,000 books.

Unlike some e-readers now with colour displays, BenQ's nReader comes in standard black, white and grey, with 800x600 resolution. E-readers differ from LCD computer screens because they lack backlights that can tire a user's eyes. Digital ink is meant to be read in natural light.

The device will be offered in Chinese, English and Japanese initially, and supports a number of e-book formats, including EPUB as well as MP3 audio. The device has an audio jack to plug in headphones.

Another Taiwanese e-reader maker, Greenbook, also showed off its e-reader at the IT Month show. The device costs NT$8,950, has a 6in screen with 800x600 resolution, and uses E-ink digital ink technology. It carries 512MB of flash memory for storage but includes an SD card slot for a maximum 4GB of storage.


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