What a difference a year makes. I don’t recall seeing nearly as many different e-book readers at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show. At least not from mainstream, everyday brand names. But at the Digital Experience mini-show, I did stumble on a new eInk model from Samsung. The company actually has two new e-book readers — the E6 and E101 — but only the smaller E6 was on the floor.
There isn’t much to differentiate the E6 from other devices currently on the market, aside from the electromagnetic resonance stylus pen. The pen is used for handwritten notes and for navigation, although there are slide-out nave controls on the bottom of the reader. Like the Alex from Spring Design, the Samsung E6 and E101 aren’t partnered with any content providers. Instead, you have access to over 1 million books through Google. Connectivity is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and you can email PDFs of your handwritten notes. You also pick and download content over Wi-Fi. 2GB of fixed storage, two weeks of battery life and dual speakers round out the 6″ inch E6 and 10″ E101.
A few minutes of playtime tells me that the stylus input is only marginally adequate. It felt a little slow to respond, but perhaps using the pen takes some getting used to. Aside from no content providers, one challenge for these units is the price. Samsung expects to sell them later this year at $399 and $699. Those prices aren’t compelling when the only content is Google Books for now, although that content is free. We weren’t provided a list of all of the supported content formats, but EPUB and PDF were specifically mentioned.
By the way, I just got word that the Alex from Spring Design is officially launching later today at the same $399 price as the Samsung E6. Although it doesn’t have any content partners either, it does have a very nice and responsive second display running Android. Expect to see it for sale on Feb. 22.