Sharp has just taken the veils off its bold new e-reader devices, dubbing them both Galapagos in honor of the evolution the company believes they represent. The 5.5-inch Mobile version (pictured above) has a delightfully dense 1024 x 600 LCD screen, while its 10.8-inch Home sibling offers a very decent 1366 x 800. There's 802.11b/g WiFi on both, while the littler slate is also enriched with a navigational trackball. Sharp's emphasis here really seems to be on the cloud-based ecosystem it's creating for these "terminal" devices -- 30,000 newspapers, magazines and books have been lined up for its planned December launch and an "automatic scheduled delivery" facility will help you get at them as soon as the latest issue's ready for consumption. Sadly, we should note that this is specifically tailored to suit the Japanese market, which makes an international release seem somewhat unlikely. For a size comparison between the two tablets and the full press release, jump past the break.

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Sharp to start first E-bookstore Service from December with "GALAPAGOS" E-Book Reader

Launch of Cloud-Based Media Service Business Offering a New User Experience


Sharp Corporation will launch a new cloud-based media service business, named "GALAPAGOS", to provide a new user experience, while evolving to meet each customer's changing needs with a network service and device specifically designed for the Japanese market. The first effort in this area will be an e-bookstore service that is planned to begin in December of this year. Two compatible tablet terminals have been developed specifically as e-book readers and will be introduced at the same time.

This new e-bookstore provides an "Automatic Scheduled Delivery Service" (fee-based service) for periodical publications. The most recent editions of newspapers and magazines a user has subscribed to can be delivered and read by the user's e-book readers. In addition, free trial versions of recommended e-book content can also be delivered to the e-book reader, letting users immediately purchase content of their favor.

Two models of the e-book readers have been developed - a mobile type featuring a 5.5-inch LCD screen that reads like a paperback book, and a home type featuring a 10.8-inch high-resolution HD LCD that allows users to enjoy magazines formatted across a two-page spread.

Sharp will continue to provide for evolving e-book lifestyles by further enriching the content available through the service, and by expanding the functions of compatible terminal devices.

E-bookstore Service (overview)

Start of service December, 2010 (Planned)
Content lineup (at time of launch) Approx. 30,000 newspapers, magazines, and books
* Details of the service, such as content and price are scheduled to be announced separately in conjunction with the start of the service.

E-book Reader/Tablet Terminal (overview)

Nickname GALAPAGOS

Mobile type
5.5-inch LCD
(1,024 × 600 pixels)

Home type
10.8-inch
(1,366 × 800 pixels)

Communication function Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g)
* Details about the e-book readers, including the specific date of introduction, will be announced separately.

Major Features

1. "Automatic Scheduled Delivery Service" for periodical publications, including newspapers and magazines. Content from the most recent editions can be delivered and read whenever desired.
2. Rich graphic capabilities and an easy-to-use interface that give full consideration to the book culture of Japan.
3. "Evolution" of the terminal devices with periodic software updates.
"GALAPAGOS" was chosen as the name for Sharp's cloud-based media service business, as a symbol of the "evolution" of services and terminal devices that constantly bring fresh, new experiences to the user. The name comes from the famous Galapagos Islands, which were visited by Charles Darwin (1809–1882), a British geologist and biologist. The observations he made while on the islands played a key role in the formulation of his "theory of evolution".

Major Features

1. "Automatic Scheduled Delivery Service" for periodical publications, including newspapers and magazines. Content from the most recent editions can be read whenever desired.
- Users can receive and enjoy the most recent editions of newspapers and magazines, automatically delivered at a pre-arranged time. (Prior service registration subject to fees is required)
- The users can categorize and organize the downloaded content by categories, including "unread / recommended", "most recently read", "favorite", and "scheduled delivery".
- The free trial version of e-book content will be automatically delivered from the e-book store. Contents that the users find interesting can be purchased immediately.
- The downloaded content will be stored on an e-book, and users can enjoy the e-book content even in a place without wireless network services.

2. Rich graphic capabilities and easy-to-use interface that give full consideration to the book culture of Japan.
- Complies with XMDF e-book format, to support Japanese expressions such as vertical writing and ruby. When users enlarged content on previous mobile terminals, the display needed to be scrolled to see the content fully. Content complying with XMDF format enables adapting to a change of font sizes without altering the content and picture layout.

3. Evolution of the terminal devices with periodic software updates.
- Automatic software updates of the media tablet will enable users to enjoy not just XMDF format content, but other e-book content services also, including various software applications. Users can enjoy the evolution of terminal devices with periodic software updates.

Other Features

- Track ball feature in the mobile type with 5.5-inch screen. Users can rotate the track ball like a PC mouse and can flip the pages with one hand.
- Sharp's e-book application software for PC "GALAPAGOS Station" enables users to organize downloaded content on PCs. Users can mark and add comments on the e-book content.
- PC data, including documents and maps, can be converted to XMDF format, and can be viewed on the media tablet.
- Web browser will display websites for PCs on a high resolution LCD screen.
- Pre-installed social network service application enables sharing readers' comments and e-book list with friends.

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Sharp announces Galapagos e-reading tablets: 5.5 and 10.8 inches, getting e-bookstore in December