The electronic newspaper, a large portable screen that is constantly updated with the latest news, has been a prop in science fiction for...
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The electronic newspaper, a large portable screen that is constantly updated with the latest news, has been a prop in science fiction for ages. It also figures in the dreams of newspaper publishers struggling with rising production and delivery costs, lower circulation and decreased ad revenue from their paper product.
While the dream device remains on the drawing board, Plastic Logic today will introduce its version of an electronic-newspaper reader: a lightweight plastic screen that mimics the look — but not the feel — of a printed newspaper.
The device, which is unnamed, uses the same technology as the Sony eReader and Amazon.com‘s Kindle, a highly legible black-and-white display developed by E Ink. While both of those devices are intended primarily as book readers, Plastic Logic’s device, which will be shown at an emerging-technology trade show in San Diego, has a screen more than twice as large. The size of a piece of copier paper, it can be continually updated via a wireless link and can store and display hundreds of pages of newspapers, books and documents.
Richard Archuleta, the chief executive of Plastic Logic, said the display was big enough to provide a newspaperlike layout. “Even though we have positioned this for business documents, newspapers is what everyone asks for,” Archuleta said.
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The reader will go on sale in the first half of next year. Plastic Logic will not announce which news organization will display its articles on it until the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, when it will also reveal the price.
Newspaper companies have watched the technology closely for years. The ideal format, a flexible display that could be rolled or folded like a newspaper, is still years off, says E Ink. But it foresees color displays with moving images and interactive clickable advertising coming in only a few more years, according to Sriram Peruvemba, vice president for marketing for E Ink.
If e-newspapers take off, the savings could be hefty. At the The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, print and delivery make up 65 percent of the paper’s fixed expenses, said Kenneth Bronfin, president of Hearst Interactive Media.