Asustek unveils low-cost Eee Note e-reader, notepad

You can also write notes on the 8-inch screen of the Eee Note with a stylus, all for around $US228

Asutek Eee Reader

Asutek Eee Reader

Asustek Computer on Monday unveiled the Eee Note EA-800, an e-reader with a stylus for taking notes on its 8-inch touchscreen. The device will be available in Taiwan later this week for the suggested retail price of $NT6,999 ($US228), Asustek executives said.

Asus already sells the Eee Reader DR-900, which has a 9-inch digital ink screen and is on sale in Taiwan for $NT11,988 ($US391).

The main difference between the two e-readers, and the cause for the price discrepancy, is the Eee Note's cheaper screen. It uses a monochrome LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 1024 by 768, while the Eee Reader uses an e-paper screen made by Sipix Imaging, a rival to E Ink Corporation's popular screens.

"The entire cost structure of the Eee Reader is more expensive," said Samson Hu, vice president and general manager of Asustek's Eee system business unit. The Eee Note is made with standard PC parts, making it less expensive than the Eee Reader, he explained.

Aside from price, the other significant difference in the technologies is battery life. The Eee Note will last only about 13.5 hours when in constant use, while the Eee Reader will run for up to two weeks without needing a recharge. LCD screens typically need power to maintain the image, while e-paper displays only require power to change the image.

The Eee Note runs Linux and comes with software for reading e-books, writing notes, drawing, recording lectures, taking photos with the 2-megapixel camera on board, listening to music or lectures with the 3.5mm headphone jack and more.

The device also connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi and will be bundled with content from local partners in every country in which it is sold. In Taiwan, the local partner is UDN.com, the website of the island's United Daily News group.

The Eee Note is available this week in Taiwan and shortly thereafter in Hong Kong, according to Asustek. The device will reach several European countries, including Germany, Italy and Russia, around the end of this year or early next year, while it will go on sale in China in the first quarter of next year. Asustek will launch the Eee Note in the U.S. in the first quarter of next year.

The Eee Reader was announced in March. Like the Eee Note, it has Wi-Fi and can be recharged or synced to a computer with a micro-USB port.

The Eee Note has 4GB of flash memory for storage internally, while the Eee Reader has 2GB of internal flash memory. Both have a Micro SD slot for additional storage.

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