Looks like Panasonic have taken a few steps closer to rejoining the ebook posse with the introduction of their 5.6-inch Words Gear reader. The touch-sensitive display brings a 1024x600 resolution and appears to be the same 5.6-inch full-color panel they were working on last year. The 105 × 18.5~28.4 × 152-mm / 325-gram Words Gear is capable of playing back a variety of SD-ePublish protected content off SD cards loaded with e-books, music, photographs, and video with a continuous e-book playback battery life of about 6 hours. No real details yet or pricing / ship date, but they'll certainly be limited to Japan whenever launched.

Update: This just in from Engadget Japan: Words Gear has touch-sensitive navigation on the grip, not the display itself, and will cost ¥40,000 or about $340 when they hit the streets "later this year."

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