First hands on: Samsung E6 e-book reader

So Matt and I just got our hands on the Samsung E6, the company’s first electronic book reader. As a device it’s not bad, but compared to what’s out there you just know that Samsung was all, “We need to release something to get a foothold in the market.”

The 6-inch e-redaer slides open, quite possibly like a phone you once owned. It’s only black and white, too, so those of you expecting Samsung to usher in the era of color e-reaers will be disappointed.

The fact is, all of these e-readers are so similar that it really does come down to where you can get books from. For the E6, Samsung partnered with Google to bring its vast collection of public domain books to the reader. And while a partnership with Google is great, and may well lead to future fun and excitement, the idea of partnering up with someone just to get public domain books is sorta weird. Whereas the nook and Kindle are backed by the Barnes and Noble and Amazon bookstores, respectively, the E6 doesn’t have that same commercial relationship, at least not yet.

So, again, as a device not too bad, but e-readers are so similar these days (at least until a company releases a full-color one) that it’s sorta like choosing between an Xbox 360 an PS3: which exclusive games (read: books) are you most interested in reading? And you go from there.

It should be available in March (such are the current plans) for $399, with a 10-inch version costing $599.

From the press release:


Samsung’s New E-book Series Boasts First-of-its-Kind Functionality with a Precision Stylus Pen

Las Vegas, January 6, 2009 – Samsung Electronics America, Inc., a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Corporation, today unveiled its first e-book devices, with six-inch and ten-inch screen size offerings, at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The E6 and E101 further solidify Samsung’s position as a global leader in display technology by raising the bar on the quality of writing capabilities for e-books.

“We’ve used our expertise to create a high-quality e-book with today’s on-the-go consumer in mind,” said Young Bae, director of display marketing, Samsung Information Technology Division. “Samsung is addressing a common frustration that users experience with many of today’s digital readers with a stylus that allows them to annotate their favorite works or take notes. Coupled with wireless functionality that enables sharing of content, this is a truly multi-faceted device..”

Handwriting Capabilities

Unlike other e-book devices, Samsung’s E6 and E101 enables handwriting directly onto the display, allowing users to annotate their reading selections, calendars and to-do lists with a built-in electromagnetic resonance (EMR) stylus pen. This dedicated pen prevents mistypes caused by hands and other objects that may graze the screen’s surface. A variety of pen and eraser thicknesses make the Samsung e-books perfect for drawing and writing.

Low Power Consumption

The Samsung e-book displays reflect light naturally and deliver an appearance similar to that of printed paper, allowing people to read more naturally than they would with other backlit electronic paper devices. The E101 boasts a ten-inch screen, while the E6, is the more portable sibling at six inches. Because Samsung’s e-book is not backlit, the power consumption is lower than that of other portable display devices. Only four hours of charging prepares the battery for up to two weeks of use, depending on the extent of daily use.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Wireless

Samsung’s e-books are equipped for wireless connectivity as well. Wi-Fi 802.11b/g allows users to download content such as books and newspapers from a server wirelessly, as well as to share certain content with other devices. Bluetooth 2.0 is also a built in feature.
The Samsung E6 and E101 will be priced at $399 and $699, respectively. They will be available in early 2010.