In the last year or so, the e-reader market has gone from a blip to a fully saturated one, and adding to that digital segment is Plastic Logic and its QUE proReader. While there are many pluses on the side of the proReader, there is one looming disadvantage that I’m guessing will bury Plastic Logic’s e-reader.
Yes, credit has to be given to Plastic Logic’s attempt to target a specific corner of the e-reader market, namely the professionals and executives, but the QUE proReader arrives too little, too late (or should that be too little, too expensive, too late?). While perhaps not a direct competitor, the Apple iPad was announced on January 27th (trumping Plastic Logic even after the proReader’s announcement at CES) and offers more computing, more memory, and more money saved.
Getting down to it, the iPad is way more bang for your buck, as it offers four times the memory (16GB) and it goes far beyond being a simple e-reader for $150 less. But, sadly, we’re not reviewing the iPad today.
So, what can save the proReader? Quality partnerships for one, doing what it’s supposed to do very well, and a drastic price drop should do the trick. However, it’s a competitive market and its biggest challenge is to lure us away from traditional print media.
Undressing the QUE proReader
What does the QUE proReader have going for it? For starters, it has a robust 10.7-inch screen (that’s a full inch bigger than both the iPad and the Kindle DX). At 8 inches wide, the e-ink screen renders a normal piece of paper in its nativity. Also, while the screen is touch-sensitive, a firm press is needed to get a response.
Keeping the targeted business consumers in mind, Plastic Logic inked content deals with such publications as Fast Company, ComputerWorld, PCWorld, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Barron’s, Financial Times, WSJ, USA Today, and about 300 more. Barnes & Noble is onboard as well. The QUE proReader also enables users to drag and drop MS Office documents onto the e-reader from a PC and the preinstalled BlackBerry app allows you to transfer files to your e-reader.
While the interface takes nearly a full second to turn the page, the home screen is robust with plenty of functionality like drop-down menus, favorite files, a swipe calendar, and more. Plastic Logic included its truVue technology that allows pages to be displayed in a way that resembles their print versions.
A basic proReader with 4GB, Wi-Fi, USB, and Bluetooth is going to run you $649. The high-end model, with AT&T 3G and only 8GB will cost you $799. Ouch.