South Australian company to launch e-reader

Smartbooks are a low-cost class of mobile device bigger than a smartphone but more agile than a less-functional netbook.

The new colour LCD device due to ship from a Chinese factory at the end of the month is the result of Adelaide developer Ubiq Technologies’ nearly 10 years of work on e-books.

The device uses open source FBReader software to read non-protected e-book formats such as EPUB and Mobipocket and other software to display PDFs and Microsoft Word, and will have a free subscription to online libraries, said company founder and chief executive officer Mike Ottoy.

The device also has a web browser to enable mobile workers to access corporate policies and intranets while on the road, he said.

“We had to set about putting a full-scale computer [in such a device],” Ottoy said.

The device that will arrive in the country soon after Amazon’s new Kindle DX with Global Wireless, available in Australia directly from the online bookseller on January 19, and the rumoured January 27 announcement of Apple’s iSlate smartbook and e-reader.

The trend towards digital content represents a growing threat to book printers, with federal minister for small business Craig Emerson last year describing e-reader technology as putting “strong competitive pressure” on the print and publishing industries.

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