Txtr Beagle aims to corner low-end e-reader market for $13 (video)

Txtr Beagle aims to corner low-end e-reader market for $13

We've seen some cheap e-readers in our day. Heck, even the big boys are practically giving the things away. But, we've never seen anything quite like the Txtr Beagle. The latest creation from German company Txtr is expected to sell for under €10 or about $13 when it hits the market, hopefully sometime before the holiday season. Obviously, for such a low price, you're not getting a lot of bells and whistles here. There's no touchscreen, no backlight, no 3G -- not even WiFi is baked into the impossibly thin 5mm body. The screen is only five inches but, if the promotional video (after the break) is to be believed, it offers a more enjoyable experience than reading an iPad or talking to your significant other. What is inside this barebones device is 4GB of storage and a Bluetooth radio which, when paired with your phone, can transfer ebooks from your mobile to the Beagle using the free Txtr app (available for Android 4.0 with an iOS version is in the works). Instead of an expensive rechargable cell, power is provided by a trio of AAA batteries, which the company claims will last you up to a year of regular reading. Almost as interesting as the device itself, is the model being used to keep the costs down. Txtr is positioning it not as a standalone e-reader, but as a smartphone accessory it hopes that carriers will offer with a small subsidy. The company's chief commercial officer Thomas Leliveld has said that work is underway to get AT&T and Sprint on board, but that talks are still ongoing with providers. Complete PR awaits you after the break.

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txtr beagle, the world's smallest eReader, unlocks eBook potential for network operators

The new 5" eReader is not only the smallest and lightest in its class, it also delivers more than one year reading experience. It does not require any cables or chargers, giving consumers a unique out-of-box experience to read their eBooks within seconds. It is the first companion reader to receive eBooks sent from a smartphone. This is the eReader telecom operators have been waiting for.

txtr, Europe's leading eReading solution provider, today announced a brand new unique eReader, the txtr beagle. The txtr beagle is designed to do best what eReaders are intended for: read digital books. The txtr beagle, read | only™.

Only 100cc, the txtr beagle is the smallest eReader in the world - mostly just 5mm thick. It weighs just 128 grams, making it the world's lightest 5" or 6" eInk eReader available. This device fits easily in any pocket or handbag. Unlike other eReaders, there is no need for chargers or cables, nor is there any installation. The product comes with two AAA batteries that enable users to read for more than one year, after which these can simply be replaced. The location of the batteries not only creates an elegant silhouette but also becomes an ergonomic feature as it rests easily in the palm of a hand. The device can be personalized with back-covers in four vivid fashionable colours. For business customers the screen can be customized too.

Users can start reading any of the preloaded eBooks or book previews in seconds by simply switching the device on and selecting the book of choice. The txtr beagle communicates with the txtr Android reading application, to add more eBooks. Pair the txtr beagle with the smartphone using the standard Bluetooth protocol. Any eBooks or documents available in the user's library can be transferred to the device with just one click. Font-size and orientation are set on the smartphone in the app once. The txtr beagle is part of the overall Adobe certified txtr eReading platform, but does not count as an extra device. The txtr beagle is equipped with a 5" eInk display that is known for its excellent performance and contrast. It offers a superior reading experience outdoors in sun light, compared to LCD screens.

Unlocking the mass market

The product was designed to unlock a huge, untapped go-to-market channel with tens of millions of customers, many of whom are not yet accustomed to digital reading. The txtr beagle is targeted to the 80% of the population that want an easy-to-use, stylish, light device with excellent display performance for reading.

Thomas Leliveld, Chief Commercial Officer at txtr says: "So far network operators have not actively marketed eReading. In our view, this is because of the lack of a suitable device, which matches the crucial conditions relevant to the operator business model. Our new product connects with popular smartphones. The txtr beagle and txtr's eBook store drive incremental ARPU from eBook sales, with a high RoI since data costs are low for eReading during the contract period. From discussions with network operators, we foresee the txtr beagle to be available to consumers for a price as low as €9.90. That is up txtr GmbH, Rosenthaler to ten times cheaper than other eReaders in the market, which will certainly drive adoption and eBook sales."

Weight, size and battery life do matter for mobile devices. The txtr beagle excels in each of them, since it was developed to unlock a new distribution channel that holds tens of millions of active users. txtr wants the network operators to partner in helping to grow the number of consumers reading digital books, at a much faster pace. The company is in conversations with potential partners in Asia, Europe and the USA.

Leliveld states that depending on market and consumer reaction to the product, txtr will consider offering the product directly in some of its ten online eBook stores with local content across Europe and the USA.

txtr, liberate reading


Product specifications
Display: Gray Scale : 8-levels gray scale
Resolution: 800 x 600 pixels
Screen: Vizplex™ eInk, 5 inches

Weights and Measurements Weight (Approx.): 128 grams (with batteries); 111 grams (without batteries)
Dimensions (Approx.): 140 x 105 x 4.8mm (on thin side) / 14mm (on battery side)
Volume: 100 cm 3

LED: Red and blue LED on front side indicates the Bluetooth state and battery power state.

Operating Conditions: 0°C to +45°C

Media Formats: All files supported by the smartphone or PC host application (e.g. epub, pdf).

Recommended Battery Types: AAA, 1.5V lithium, alkaline batteries or NiMH rechargeable batteries
Battery Life (Approx): Read for more than 1 year*
Voltage: 3V

Memory: 4GB; Number of books cached: Up to 5

System Requirements: To get more books from user's library requires (1) pairing via Bluetooth of smartphone (2) txtr Android app with beagle support (in beta).

Available Colors: Jade Green, Grapefruit, Turquoise, Purple

In the Box: txtr beagle 2 AAA Batteries, Quick Start Guide

*12-15 books per year with normal use. Actual lifetime may vary by battery type.