Samsung E101 and E6: Wireless ebook readers take on the Kindle

The 10-inch E101 and 6-inch E6 wireless ebook readers represent Samsung's attempt to poke Sony and Amazon in the eyes and run off with their market share

At annual technology shindig CES, Samsung took the liberty of unveiling two new wireless ebook readers, the 10-inch E101 (pictured above) and 6-inch E6 (shown below), as well as announcing a partnership with Google that will see the Web giant's online library of over a million books made available on these devices.

Samsung isn't an entirely new entrant to the ebook-reader market -- the Papyrus, limited to South Korea, has been around for yonks -- but the latest devices indicate the company's reluctance to let big guns Amazon and Sony eat up all the international pie. Indeed, the E101 seems designed to directly compete with Amazon's 9.7-inch Kindle DX, and the same is true of the E6 and the 6-inch Kindle. Whereas the Kindles have 3G wireless connectivity, however, Samsung's devices use 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for sharing content.

The E101 and E6 lack the Kindles' physical keyboard, sporting an on-screen version instead. The E6 also has a slider below the screen that provides access to menu, home and navigation buttons, among others.

Besides imitating the wireless capability of the Kindles, the E101 and E6 offer, via a stylus, similar note-making and drawing functions to those of Sony's Reader Touch Edition. This feature may have limited appeal for most potential purchasers, but it could go down a storm with student types.

We have a fairly major beef with ebook readers, partly because it's been so difficult in the past to find the books we've wanted on ebook stores. The Google deal helps to some extent, but its catalogue is mainly classic and scientific works. There's another large, dollar-shaped problem with Samsung's devices, too: the E6 and E101 will cost around $400 (£250) and $700 (£440) respectively when they launch in the US in early 2010. In the UK, you can currently expect to pay around £200 for a Kindle and a fairly eye-watering £375 for a Kindle DX, so allegations that Samsung is shooting itself in the foot may be well founded.

Check out the video below for some hands-on footage, courtesy of our esteemed US colleague Tom Merritt.

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