Plastic Logic Que Pro reader
The device, as expected, is a full-screen e-reader with a touchscreen and interface designed to move quickly through a document or book. What's new is its sleeker frame, which is noticeably free of buttons. Instead, the device operates entirely by touch interface, using gestures such as swipes to move from one page to another.
Plastic Logic will sell a 4GB model with Wi-Fi and an 11.6-inch display for $649, while a version with double the memory and 3G in addition to Wi-Fi will sell for $799. Release is set for April.
"What we are trying to do at Plastic Logic is give you the benefits of paper without all of the drawbacks," CEO Richard Archuleta said here.
The device can also access e-mail, calendar and other data from Microsoft Outlook. The goal, Archuleta said, is not to create another e-reader, but rather to replace the papers that fill a typical worker's briefcase.
Although Thursday's event marked the formal launch of the Que, Plastic Logic has shown prototypes of the device for years now, starting with a sneak peek at Demo in 2007. It has also announced a variety of partnerships, including with Barnes & Noble.
The device was originally expected last year but was hit with delays, allowing more time for rivals to hit the market. Archuleta said the company has used the time to improve on earlier designs.
"What we are going to show you is refined," he said.
About 150 reporters crowded around Plastic Logic's booth to hear the announcement.
In an October interview, Archuleta said he wasn't worried that the delay would cause the Que to get lost in the shuffle.
"We're not worried about that at all, and I think the main reason is that our reader is so different," Archuleta said in October. "We haven't seen anybody even come close to what we're doing with our product."
Update at 8:10 a.m. PST: Plastic Logic partnered with design house Ideo to create the e-reader, which Archuleta said is meant to highlight, rather than downplay, the fact that the device is monochrome, rather than a color display.
"At Plastic Logic, we really celebrate black and white," Archuleta said.
8:25 a.m.: The Que Web site says the device will ship in April, though Archuleta has not yet mentioned that.
He's now demoing how publications look on the device. Newspapers and magazines show up looking more like a publication than on, say a Kindle, but are not replicas of the print version, either.
"There's a problem with a number of devices on the market," Archuleta said. "You lose the formatting that actually helps you read the content."
8:30 a.m.: There is also a BlackBerry application that lets you forward documents from your phone directly to the Que.
Plastic Logic said it is partnering with Good Technology to allow wireless access to Outlook/Exchange e-mail and calendar data as well as to Gmail, Windows Live and Yahoo mail.
8:32 a.m.: Some other details from the press release. The device has a 10.7-inch shatterproof plastic display, is one-third of an inch thick and weighs about a pound.
8:35 a.m.: Ready for some sticker shock? The 4GB model with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will sell for $649. A version with 8GB of memory and both Wi-Fi and AT&T 3G connectivity will sell for $799.
8:49 a.m.: On the plus side, there's no monthly wireless fees. That said, you can't send your documents over 3G. And there's no user-accessible Web browser, Archuleta said.