Print 17 comment(s) - last by flubaluba.. on Oct 13 at 12:58 PM

Reader lacks Li-ion batteries and 3G/WiFi connectivity, but has all the basics, slick form factor

An e-reader for $13 USD?  Say it ain't so.

This one falls under the almost too good to be true category, but it turns out it's real, thanks to a German company called "Txtr", which doubles as an e-book vendor.  

Dubbed the "txtr beagle", the company brags the e-reader is the world's thinnest and lightest e-reader device, weighing a mere 0.282 lb (128 grams) and measuring a mere 0.197 in. (5 mm) thick.  The 5-inch (diagonal) footprint packs a 800x600 eight-level grayscale E-INK display, similar to the displays in older Kindles.

The device has no expandable memory, but has 4 GB worth of NAND flash storage -- enough for 5 cached books.  Common formats such as epub and pdf are supported.

So far the device is exclusively for owners of Android smartphones (which, to be fair, there's plenty of).  This restriction is due to how e-books are pushed to the device.  As it lacks any sort of port, e-books trickle to the device via Bluetooth pairing with a special txtr app, which is currently Android-exclusive.

If that works for you, the device is available in four colorful body options:
  • Jade Green
  • Grapefruit
  • Purple
  • Turquoise
Txtr Beagle

The only other downside to the $13 USD device is that it has no built-in charger/battery pack.  However, thanks to hibernation technology txtr promises the reader's 2 AAA batteries are good for either a year of standby or 12-15 books.

For comparison's sake, Inc.'s (AMZN) cheapest ad-supported Kindle e-reader is $69 USD.  A critical caveat?  As well-priced as the txtr beagle may be, it does not appear to be currently available -- the device's homepage suggests interested customers sign up for an email list.  Whether this can prove a "Kindle-killer" could boil down to how quickly txtr can bring actual physical product to market.

Source: txtr beagle

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By tastyratz on 10/11/2012 12:35:22 PM , Rating: 2
too bad it has no port or windows app. I would love a burner e-reader like this for things like service manuals in the garage and cookbooks in the kitchen. I wouldn't care if I got grease or cake batter on them.
I would pay the extra $5 for a usb port or wifi imho

RE: bummer
By nafhan on 10/11/2012 12:59:23 PM , Rating: 3
It is kind of a weird restriction as you wouldn't even need additional hardware for Windows/OSX/iOS: most laptops and pretty much all Apple devices have Bluetooth built in.

I'm guessing the reason has to do with this:
"German company called "Txtr" , which doubles as an e-book vendor ."
They're selling eBooks, and by forcing you to use an app, they can also force you to at least look at their book catalog in hopes that you'll buy something. At $13, you've got to expect some kind of catch.

Still... I will be watching this, and if they deliver what's described here in the article, I'm buying one.

RE: bummer
By GotThumbs on 10/11/2012 1:16:14 PM , Rating: 2
Not really weird IMO.

Apple has a similar controlling business method where you can only use their market place. Users are forced to enter/use Apple's walled garden "Itunes" for all kinds of content...not just e-books.

Most business are seeing how easy it has been for Apple to restrict their own why not follow suit? Apples Billions in the bank is an enticing incentive to follow the same model.

RE: bummer
By othercents on 10/11/2012 1:39:25 PM , Rating: 2
This might be more of a restriction on the Apple iPhone or iPad side than an issue with 'Txtr. I seam to remember iPhone 3G being restricted to only connecting to bluetooth headsets and the complaint of not being able to play music through the bluetooth headset.

'Txtr does have an application for Android, iPhone, iPad, PC, and Mac. It is understandable not to enable this for PC, but my preference would be to get a bluetooth connector for my desktop to sync kids books with.


RE: bummer
By nafhan on 10/11/2012 5:21:34 PM , Rating: 2
I think the iPhone 3g thing may have been a hardware issue: older versions of Bluetooth had lower data rates, and what's adequate for 16kbps (or lower) voice channel, may not be enough for music. In this case, we're talking about transferring data or... transferring data.

I'm pretty sure this is a purposeful decision rather than a hardware or software limitation.

RE: bummer
By sprockkets on 10/12/2012 11:27:18 AM , Rating: 2
Phones that came out before the original iPhone had audio over bt. Apple just didn't have it ready nor was it a priority.

RE: bummer
By kmmatney on 10/11/2012 1:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure they did it this way to prevent piracy, since you have to upload the books from a special app. Probably a good idea. It's way to easy too download/pirate ePub books. I've downloaded a lot of out-of-print books to my iPad straight from Safari.

4GB of spcae and only 5 books?
By HrilL on 10/11/2012 12:27:06 PM , Rating: 5
This has to be a mistake. A normal ebook is 10-50MB of data. Even with an OS on there it should have more than 3GB of Free space. It likely would hold 60 or so 50MB ebooks...

RE: 4GB of spcae and only 5 books?
By Etsp on 10/11/2012 1:51:34 PM , Rating: 2
I've heard that to save on processing power on the device itself, the app used to sync converts the books into an image-based format and sends that, ballooning the size of an individual ebook.

By Don Tonino on 10/12/2012 2:51:23 AM , Rating: 2
That would mean transferring ~800 MB a book, according to what stated in the article.

Considering the cheapness of the hardware, I suspect that the device will have Bluetooth version 2.0 at most, meaning a maximum data rata of 2.1 Mbit/s - that means an upload time of at least 50 minutes for every book.

Good luck with that, and with the battery drain on both phone and ereader.

Throw away....
By siliconvideo on 10/11/2012 12:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
At $13 I'd consider this a throw away book or 5 books. I'd pay $30 to 5 Clancy books pre-loaded into this. You could even save cost by removing the blue tooth interface.

Now we have to do the comparison if it is better on the environment to produce 5 paperback books or one disposable electronic book holding all 5 paperbacks.

RE: Throw away....
By GotThumbs on 10/11/12, Rating: -1
RE: Throw away....
By Reclaimer77 on 10/11/2012 1:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
Wow what's with all the indignation? I didn't interpret his post as to mean literally "throw away". You're totally going overboard dude.

RE: Throw away....
By siliconvideo on 10/11/2012 1:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
I think I touched a nerve. My point was that a single paperback book now cost above $10 (ignoring hardbacks) and to me its a one time use item. I either pass it on or put on my shelve to collect dust. I'd rather pay $30 for 5 books versus $50+ for paperbacks. In the end I would treat it the same way I'd treat a paperback book, pass it on or put it on the shelf to collect dust.

Another point is that many people only value items based on their cost. I'd treat a junker car much worse then a BMW. I'd have no qualms about sending the junker to the junk yard (trashing it) while I'd take much better care of the BMW. I would not spend money to repair a junker while I would with a BMW. It's human nature.

It comes down to $13 is a value that people won't care about as much, throwing it away and buying another one might be acceptable to them.

As far as America's/worlds problems, I agree, that's why I brought up the point. All new technologies must be examined including human nature to see what's locally/globally best.

RE: Throw away....
By inperfectdarkness on 10/12/2012 2:52:35 AM , Rating: 2
you must not live in europe. bmw's are throwaway cars.

RE: Throw away....
By ImEmmittSmith on 10/11/2012 4:02:52 PM , Rating: 1
You could easily recycle/share or possible push a reset button and have the memory cleared for another 5 books. Seems there would probably be a way to discard a book and load another. Because it is so cheap, just put on the shelf for reading later. Lots of options when the technology is this cheap. Landfill?!! Don't think so!

By flubaluba on 10/13/2012 12:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
The only problem I see it that it is a 5" screen, way too small , I tried reading one of the old 5" kindles the other day and the difference to a 6" one makes the smaller one barely usable. If anything I think a 7" kindle would be the way to go, no bigger than that though.

Love the fact that it lasts so long with the replaceable batteries, and in all honesty i think wifi is a waste on a tablet, i always plug mine into the pc to transfer data.

Blue-tooth will be a challenge to use and I think if they had incorporated a mini usb port it would have overcome all of the problems people will encounter. and it would have possibly been cheaper.

Unless it is a mistake in the post 4gb of internal memory is enough to hold a few thousand books to read.

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