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iRex, Astak Intro e-Readers

New York – iRex Technologies and Astak announced new e-readers, with the former
planning to introduce its first U.S. consumer-aimed e-reader by the end of the

Also, as reported
Friday, Acer told Bloomberg
it will enter the e-reader market during the next five years as part of a plan
to move its core product base beyond the PC – a maturing market. Acer has not
yet responded to TWICE inquiries.

iRex, based in the
Netherlands, is a spinoff of Royal Philips. It has supplied e-readers overseas,
and it supplied business-aimed e-readers in the U.S., but its first consumer
device for the U.S. will offer 3G wireless connectivity and a large, 8.1-inch
screen at a price to be announced. Further details are not available at this

E-readers are expected
to sell at the rate of 2 million units in the U.S. this year, according to
Forrester Research, and are forecast to expand to 40 million unit sales
worldwide, so suppliers estimate there is room for new entrants in a market
currently dominated by the Amazon Kindle and Sony Readers.

A spokesperson for
iRex noted, “Despite the flurry of recent product developments, the e-reader
market is still in its infancy. The market opportunity is immense and while
Amazon has taken an early market share, its business model leaves significant
opportunity for competitors. AFAICS Research, a U.K.-based business
intelligence company … predicts the worldwide market for dedicated e-readers
will grow to 40 million devices by 2012.”

For its part,
Astak, based in San Jose, Calif., will ship this month an e-reader sporting a
5-inch screen (without 3G wireless connectivity) called the Pocket Pro, joining
the company’s earlier model with a 6-inch screen.

The Pocket Pro
supports 20 formats of books in the public domain as well as copy-protected PDF

The device has a
text-to-speech function to read documents aloud and it provides three or more
font sizes.  It comes with 512MB of
memory, plus an SD card slot for additional storage capacity of up to
16GB.  It has a battery life of up to
8,000 page turns, and it can play MP3 music files while users read e-books.

The company is
taking preorders on the $199 device at
and  Other features include eight-level grayscale
e-ink screen, 400MHz processor and PDF reflow.

Aztak also hopes
to offer Wi-Fi and touchscreen e-readers “in the near future,” according to its
Web site.

, including Plastic Logic, have announced new e-Reader products.