Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. has exhibited a prototype of an eBook reader that can view full color pictures at an exhibition being held in Tokyo. The prototype is equipped with a 5.6-inch TFT LCD XGA panel with a resolution of approximately 210 ppi.
Panasonic previously released the 'Sigma Book' eBook reader which has two 7.2-inch monochrome LCD XGA panels. By integrating these two panels, the prototype became smaller and lighter: its size and weight are equivalent to an A6 sized paperback. It uses a Li-ion secondary battery while the previous model uses two U3 batteries. For commercialization, the company aims to extend the battery life to six to seven hours from one charge. The product is scheduled to be released in July 2006. According to a Panasonic spokesperson, the price is likely to set under ¥40,000, the same level as the previous model.
The company also plans to add a video replay function to the new reader, although which encoding method will be employed is now under consideration. With a video replay function, users can enjoy such contents unique to eBooks, for example, picture books with moving pictures. The eBook reader is capable of replaying voice and music as well, so the company also intends to distribute books with both text and voice data included. Unlike the previous model, the new reader supports JPEG still images. Contents stored in the memory card are read and written via a USB port (each reader is equipped with just one port).
Tadashi Nezu, Nikkei Electronics