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Asus Eee Reader: Asus to blow ebook market wide open?

Asus is looking to do it again with the Eee Reader, a reported ebook reader that will pack a dizzying array of features at an unbelievable price

Having kicked the laptop market in the peripherals with the launch of the Eee PC, single-handedly inventing the netbook market in the process, Asus is turning its attention to the ebook reader industry with the Eee Reader.

The Times reports that the Eee Reader is on its way to the UK and may involve hinged dual touchscreens, allowing readers to recreate the feeling of turning the page, like a real paper book. With extra features such as a Web browser, the second screen could be used to look up relevant references or make notes on what you're reading. The second screen could also be a touchscreen keyboard.

Hang on. Turn the picture sideways and you've got... a laptop. Has Asus figured out a way to sell us an even more under-specced computer? In fact, we first saw the concept of a dual-screen laptop at CeBIT earlier this year. If the full colour, Internet-accessing, double touchscreen concept is close to production then it could be a big shake-up for the industry.

There's no shortage of ebook readers in this country, with Sony launching the Reader Touch and Pocket editions just last month. But many have looked to the rumoured Christmas launch of the Amazon Kindle as the potential tipping point for electronic books in the UK. Perhaps we've been looking at the wrong end of the price spectrum: if Asus can deliver a product this well-featured at the price it's reportedly considering, ebooks could be the next big thing. Asus is looking to halve the price of existing readers, aiming to punt the Eee Reader for around £100. Now that's what we're talking about.