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Sharp's Galapagos e-book tablet to launch December 10

Sharp still considering whether to launch tablet outside Japan

Sharp will launch its Sharp Galapagos (video) e-book tablets in Japan on December 10, but overseas launch plans are still under consideration, it said Monday.

The tablets will go on sale throughout Japan in two versions: one has a 5.5-inch screen and the other a 10.8-inch screen. They'll cost ¥39,800 and ¥54,800 (US$474 and $652) respectively, the Osaka-based company said at a Tokyo news conference.

See also: Sharp sets aggressive goals for Android e-book reader

The Galapagos tablets sit somewhere between dedicated e-book readers like Amazon's Kindle and full-featured tablet computers like Apple's iPad. (See the tablet in video on YouTube.)

The tablets are dedicated to reading electronic books, newspapers and magazines, despite running Google's Android operating system. Users don't have the freedom to download and install software of their choice, even though the tablets' color LCD screens and shiny finish make them look more like an iPad or Samsung Galaxy.

The 10.8-inch model is midway in price between Apple's 16GB and 32GB Wi-Fi iPad models, and is a lot more expensive than Amazon's 9.7-inch Kindle, which costs just under ¥32,000. The 5.5-inch model is more expensive than all models of Kindle and Sony Reader.

The Galapagos might have an advantage in the content that will be offered: Sharp has worked with a number of leading Japanese publishers to get 20,000 local newspapers, magazines and books on the service at launch. The company is also planning to expand the service with audio and video from early 2011.

Sharp plans to launch the Galapagos outside Japan, but the precise timing and other details are still under consideration.

See also: Sharp scaling back on laptops to focus on tablets

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