British company unveils Kindle rival

ebook reader

UK firm Plastic Logic has launched its Que ProReader, a wafer-thin business-focused e-reader.

The plastic transistors key to the Que's low profile are the product of years of research at Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory, with the commercial entity Plastic Logic having been set up to bring the finished device to market founded on Cavendish's work.

The Que doesn't struggle to make an impression in the flesh, thanks to its large-format 10.7in screen, which is able to display Office documents, PDFs, magazines and newspapers.

Its maker says the Que's aim is to make browsing digital documents as natural as possible, be they spreadsheets, magazines or newspapers.

As big as the screen is, the device itself is remarkably thin, with the side profile having to expand to accommodate the single USB port, SD card slot and HDMI socket tucked away on the bottom edge.

The Cambridge-developed plastic transistors help keep size and weight down, and offer the potential for a flexible screen, though Plastic Logic has delivered the Que in a rigid casing for safety reasons.

You can make notes directly on the top of documents, while the screen size makes ordinary typing tasks straightforward using the virtual touch keyboard.

Plastic Logic says the interface is designed to mimic online versions of publications as closely as possible, and claims this can be seen on how newspapers and magazines are browsed on the device.

There are two models available a basic 4GB edition, which Plastic Logic says is good for around 35,000 documents, and a bigger 8GB version that adds a 3G web connection with AT&T the provider at launch in the US and Barnes & Noble the content partner.

However, it won't be competing with e-reader rivals like the Amazon Kindle on price. With prices of $649 and $799 at launch in the US, the ProReaders don't come cheap. And despite its spiritual home, and the fact that Plastic Logic still having an office in Cambridge, there's no word yet of a local version appearing in the UK.