New York - Not to be eclipsed in the rush to wireless e-readers, second tier suppliers Aztak and Interead (Cool-er) are preparing their answers to the spate of new 3G models from Sony, iRex and Barnes & Noble, as well as Amazon's Kindle.
Possibly by the end of the year, Aztak may deliver up to two 3G e-readers and one Wi-Fi model, it told TWICE. And startup Interead, maker of the Cool-er is planning a Wi-Fi model, which may be unveiled at International CES. The company is also looking at offering a 3G device, it said.
Bob Barry, Aztak's global business development director, said at least one of Aztak's wireless models may offer a 9.7-inch screen, another a 6-inch screen, while a third may be a Mobile Internet Device (MID) possibly with a color screen that can also be used in a monochrome mode for e-reading. Such a dual-purpose screen will be available by year's end from Pixel Qi with whom Aztak said it has "held extensive in-person discussions," according to Barry.
Aztak is also hoping that AT&T will be its 3G provider, but it has not yet finalized a deal. No pricing on the devices has been announced.
Aztak also plans to offer e-readers with "flexi" plastic-like 9.7-inch screens suited to reading newspapers and periodicals at International CES in January.
For its part, Interead's new Wi-Fi product will "be kept in the tradition of light, portable, in many colors..." and it will be priced at well below $249, said marketing director Phil Wood. The current Cool-er, now at $249, will be reduced in price by that time, he noted.
The Cool-er is sold online and through brick-and-mortar retailers that are mainly in the U.K. but QVC in the U.S. will feature the product on Dec. 4 at a discounted price and bundled with free e-books and accessories, said Wood. He claimed the Cool-er has produced "millions" in revenue dollars for the privately owned startup that launched the product in May, after only four months of development. "Within four months we turned around from zero into having turned million of dollars worth of devices [at present]," he said.
Aztak has also expanded beyond its two original EZ Reader 5- and 6-inch EPUB models adding a steup-up line called the Mentor. A new Mentor 6-inch e-reader allows users to play games such as Sudoko. It also provides one-touch buttons that bring users back to the main menu rather than requiring users back out of many exiting screens. Another feature is switching from landscape to portrait with one button.
Aztak is offered at Fry's, newegg.com, walmart.com and at several e-bookstores plus Future Shop and Best Buy Canada, it said.