In years to come, the not too distant future, e-Book readers such as the Txtr Beagle will become known as the e-Reader’s that killed the paper-back. A mastery of simplicity the Beagle has been built for singular purpose, bringing e-Books to everyone.
Priced at an incredibly low $13 the Beagle is approaching the cost of producing a paperback (printing and distribution), a critical price point that may see e-Books and their reader gadgets become ubiquitous.
Slimming down on functions has also had the desirable side effect of allowing the Beagle to be the lightest and slimmest 5 inch e-reader on the market, at under 5mm slim and weighing only 128 grams the Beagle will slip into any purse and almost any pocket.
Txtr have managed to be sensible while taking incredibly risky choices. While all other e-Readers on the market are continually adding new functions Txtr took the opposite approach. Simplify. Along the way creating an intelligently engineered reader that is likely to be emulated by many Chinese manufacturers, if it sells.
The masterstroke of genius for Txtr was shifting many of the E-Books setup, maintenance and rendering functions to the Smartphone, allowing the interface and controls required by the e-reader to be minimised. With many of the complex functions now supplied by the included Smartphone application Txtr have not only made use of existing processing power but also created the ultimate Smartphone accessory.
The Beagle represents the bare essential required to build an e-Reader, but it doesn’t forget this singular task and performers it well. There is no WiFi or 3G options, memory expansion won’t happen, while the backlight and front-light options didn’t make the cut. Touch screen was ruled out by the price and there is no charger, no USB port and no need for cables of any kind.
What it does have though is an excellent 5 inch e-Ink screen (800×600 resolution) that’s easy to read in all lighting conditions, especially outdoors. Bluetooth is the only communication link provided, allowing Beagle to link to the controlling Smartphone. Internally the 4GB of Flash stores the open books, only 5 can be kept on the Beagle at once. Each book is rendered to the Beagle during the upload process, though this does allow the software to handle all available book types. A pair of AAA batteries power the Beagle, providing up to 12 months reading or 12 to 15 books.
The Beagle isn’t the first device to make use of a Smartphone as it’s brains, it is part of a trend occurring in the gadget world. From remote control vehicles to heart rate monitors the Smartphone is becoming the portable brains controlling all of our favourite gadgets. Here at Highpants we believe this trend will continue and potentially accelerate with the continual increase in processing power of Smartphones.
As part of Txtr’s clever marketing plan they have priced the Beagle low enough to allow it to be included free with Mobile phone plans. It could in the future even be included free with limited edition e-Books, perhaps purchasing the complete set of Harry Potters would included a Harry Potter reader, which would simply be a Beagle with extra stickers attached. Who will be the first breakfast cereal maker to include an e-Reader directly onto the back of the box?
The death of reading has been greatly exaggerated. While the paperback market is going through a complete transition, this doesn’t mean people are reading less. Once e-readers and tablets complete their take-over campaign people will be consuming far more written content. The structure of the industry behind the scenes may change dramatically but the need for well written and interesting tales (content) will always exists as will the market to consume such content.
Txtr are working with AT&T and Sprint at the moment, with other mobile providers in ongoing discussion. Txtr is still testing the market reaction to Beagle, options include selling the device direct online and through their online bookstores. Hopefully a retail option can be sorted out before Christmas. We may have just solved this year Christmas shopping list, an e-reader for everyone.
The ultimate Smartphone accessory and price point busting e-reader the Beagle also manages to be a well designed and fashionable gadget. Good design and clever marketing may just challenge Amazon in the e-Reader market, can Txtr steal the crown while the king is napping. Just as the e-Reader market seems to be stagnating, as news seems to have slowed to a trickle Txtr have burst onto the scene with the mighty Beagle.
Reference: Txtr Beagle
- Display: 5″ E Ink display with 8-levels gray scale and 800 x 600 pixels resolution
- Weight: 128 grams (with batteries); 111 grams (without batteries)
- Dimensions: 140 x 105 x 4.8 mm (14mm at the battery side); Volume: 100 cm3
- Power and Battery Life: Recommended battery types – AAA, 1.5V lithium, alkaline batteries or NiMH rechargeable batteries. Battery Life: Read for more than 1 year (12-15 books per year with normal use. Actual lifetime may vary by battery type.). Voltage: 3.0 V
- LED: Red and blue LED colors on front side indicate the Bluetooth state and battery power state
- System Requirements: To get more books from user’s library requires (1) pairing via Bluetooth of smartphone (2) txtr Android app with beagle support
- Memory: 4 GB. Number of books cached: Up to 5
- Media Formats: Handles all formats supported by smartphone(e.g. epub, pdf).
- Included in the Box: txtr beagle, 2 AAA batteries and Quick Start Guide