By Alex Mutter
Txtr, a Berlin-based e-reading solutions provider, unveiled on Tuesday the txtrbeagle: a lightweight, low cost e-reader designed to open up a new mass market for e-books.
Thomas Leliveld, txtr’s Chief Commercial Officer, explained that in many places outside of the US, and in the EU especially, e-books have not been readily adopted. The market, Leliveld asserted, is in need of a large disruption in order to drive e-book penetration, and txtr looks to “aggressively” provide just that sort of disruption with its new e-reader.
Weighing in at a mere 128 grams, the 5-inch txtrbeagle is a comparable size to the new Kobo Mini, and is a trimmed-down, simple device. It uses no connector cables or power cords of any kind, and no purchases are made from the device itself. Rather, users purchase titles on their Android smartphones through txtr’s mobile app, and then transfer the e-books to the beagle via Bluetooth. The device uses two AAA batteries and holds 4 GB of memory. Users can read up to five book simultaneously.
Leliveld described txtr’s target consumer as the “connected novice user”—those who want simplicity, style and portability as opposed to high prices and lots of features.
Perhaps the most enticing thing that the beagle has going for it is its potential price point. It is meant to be bundled with data plans and other mobile service packages, and according to Leliveld: “from discussions with network operators, we foresee the txtr beagle to be available to consumers for a price as low as €9.90.”
Txtr has yet to announce specific network partners, although Leliveld said that negotiations were ongoing with operators in Asia, Europe and the US. Leliveld also did not specify a release date: while the hardware will be available before the end of the year, the actual launch is contingent on the mobile operators, but should happen in January or February of 2013.