Skiff Reader Sized for Big Content, But is it a Small Solution?

With everyone in the e-book space zigging, it only makes sense for someone to zag. Skiff looks to be doing just that as details on the Skiff Reader begin to appear just in time for CES. Like the original Amazon Kindle, Skiff is partnering with Sprint for wireless broadband connectivity although the device also supports Wi-Fi. But unlike most all other eInk readers out there, the Skiff Reader is aimed at far more than books. The company says that Skiff is “optimized for newspaper and magazine content,” likely  due to the large 11.5″ touchscreen display showing 1200 x 1600 pixels of content. The tech specs show battery life to last roughly a week with a two to three hour re-charge time. Out of the 4 GB of internal memory, 3 GB is usable for content storage and there is an SDHC memory card slot.

Aside from providing the 3G connectivity for content downloads, Sprint will also be selling the Skiff Reader in their stores. Pricing and availability details are forthcoming but the device will be shown off at CES this week. One details is pretty likely though — that touchscreen will make it easy to click on the anticipated ads. Even the official product shot shows a little advertising interaction, no?

The device itself looks nice, but really appears geared to “save” print media. And I’m not sure it’s the best approach. I still receive a few magazines, mainly because they’re not available in a digital format, and part of the allure is the brilliant color on the pages. A grayscale eInk device simply can’t compete with that. So from a magazine perspective, I don’t see a huge draw — especially when digital magazines can be enjoyed in color on computers, netbooks and maybe even the smartbooks of tomorrow.

Newspapers might gain a shot in the arm, although I haven’t see much of a positive impact by newspaper offerings on existing devices similar to the Skiff. I think the problem is one of timeliness and interaction, not printed paper vs eInk. Blogs, websites and social networks are solving this problem quite well, so a hardware solution for newspapers isn’t vastly compelling from where I stand. Thoughts?


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