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Hands-on with Plastic Logic's touchscreen Que e-book reader

We were hanging out at the CNET stage at CES, when who should we see, but someone brandishing the new Que e-book reader from Plastic Logic. Oh, we said, and took some hands-on photos

Ian Morris

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Ebook readers have been the star of this year's CES, but don't tell 3D TV, which has been trying to steal the limelight. It seems ebook innovations are arriving thick and fast from companies keen to see our bookshelves sit dusty and unloved in the corner. The Que reader, from a British company called Plastic Logic, caught our eye though, mainly because one of the company's employees brought us one to see at the CNET live stage.

What we liked about the Que was that it uses a touchscreen interface to help you navigate around your books. This means the machine itself is sleek, and totally free of any buttons. There are downsides with the touchscreen, however: we noticed that it wasn't quite as responsive as we might like, which could be a problem when you're using it every day.

Extra features though, such as syncing with your Outlook calendar and (at some point in the future) accessing your email on the device, helped convince us that this is a super little product. Irritatingly, it's not cheap, starting at $649 (£400) for the basic, 4GB model, and jumping to $799 (£495) for a version with 3G mobile data and 8GB of storage.

Despite its UK roots -- Plastic Logic is a spin-off of Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory -- the Que is currently only available in the US. A European launch is promised in the summer. You can be sure we'll have more then.

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Like all E-Ink readers, the quality of the text is superb. It's easy to read, and comfortable for extended use.
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Que is based on technology from British researchers at Cambridge University. Amusingly, it won't be available in the UK for some time after the US launch.
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We were impressed by the way the home screen can display calendar items from Outlook and gives you access to the Que book store and your book collections.
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It's also exceptionally thin, which means carrying it around won't be too bothersome.
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We love the style of the Que, but we aren't so keen on the fingerprint- and handgrease-magnet plastic the company has used. Even so, we still think this reader has enough awesome features to be worth our consideration.

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