CeBIT: ASUS Joins the E-Reader Party

ASUS may be coming late to the e-reader party, but it's definitely thinking big. On display at the giant CeBIT tech trade show in Hannover, Germany this week is the ASUS DR-900, a device that an ASUS rep says will compete with the Amazon Kindle DX, "but with more features."

The DR-900 has a 9-inch monochrome touch screen display (the Kindle DX is slightly larger, at 9.7 inches). The Asus display, while using electrophoretic technology that appears in most current e-book readers, is made by SiPix--a competitor to E-Ink, which up to now has dominated the e-paper market. Other DR-900 display specs: 1024 x 768, 150 pixels per inch, 16 scales of grey.

The DR-900 is about a third of an inch thick (roughly the same as the DX) but, at 13 ounces is considerably lighter in weight. It also has a thinner bezel than the Kindle DX. It can get content wirelessly, but base models use 802.11g Wi-Fi, which tends to consume more power than the 3G cellular technology in Kindles. Asus says the DR-900 will run up to four days with Wi-Fi enabled, or two weeks with Wi-Fi turned off. (The company indicates that 3G cellular connectivity will be available as an extra-cost option.) The device has 4GB of built-in storage.

The DR-900 has a built in Web browser and can access RSS feeds--but so far it appears to only support DRM-free formats, including unprotected e-PubPDF, TXT, Audible, MP3, HTML, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP. This could be its biggest weakness, as without DRM support you're unlikely to see commercial content on the DR-900.

Asus will also have a six-inch reader, a booth official said. Both are due out this spring, but pricing wasn't immediately available. Asus is supposedly working on a color e-book, but that won't be available until next year at the earliest.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon