While most ebook readers will offer you the chance to read a book, the Plastic Logic Que proReader takes a different approach - it's more geared to reading the newspaper, letting you check your email and calendar. But will it work? We got hands-on at CES in Las Vegas to find out.
Currently one of the largest ebook readers on the market, the Que proReader sports a 10.7-inch touchscreen display. What makes it bigger still is a thick black frame around the edge of the display. The whole unit measures 8.5 x 11 x 0.3 inches, handy as that's the same size as an American Letter Pad, so it will fit nicely into that briefcase of yours.
With the touchscreen doing all the work, there are virtually no buttons to be found on the device at all. The standard 4GB model can hold 35,000 documents or so, and an 8GB version pumps that up to 70,000 and adds 3G connectivity to the Wi-Fi available on both models.
With exclusive screen technology that is made from a special plastic, Plastic Logic claims that you'll be able to view the screen in sunny conditions without issue. Unfortunately that didn't stop the lights on the show floor giving us issues when we came to photograph it, but because it doesn't use glass it means that it should also be tougher. Although it hasn't been shown, and you won't be able to see it, the Plastic Logic's screen material can actually bend.
Available initially in the US with the promise of a global roll-out if all goes well, connectivity is offered via the AT&T network, although you won't have to worry about data charges.
As we've said, the crux of the Que proReader is to access documents, reports and data rather than catching up on the latest Dan Brown novel. Because of that, the home screen is very much designed to give you a quick glance of your life. Split into a number of columns, you can get access to your calendar, your emails and access to recently added documents. There is even an area to store your favourite docs for quick retrieval.
Those documents can be PDF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, ePub, and TXT as the QUE has native on-device support for all the above and with a quick download from a PC is even able to support Microsoft's barrage of Office software - Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
To get content to your Que you can hook it up to a PC, Mac, or - very telling of the audience they are aiming this device at - a BlackBerry.
Accessing your diary, emails and personal reports is one thing, but where the Que proReader goes to its roots, if that's possible, is a number of deals with major newspapers, magazines and websites to bring you dedicated content that has been designed to make use of the screen.
The result is that you get content that is easy to read and not just spat out as if this were any old blog. Examples we saw in our demo at CES in Las Vegas were the Wall Street Journal and USA Today - both offering layouts very different from each other, but which matched the style of the original publication.
Dedicated Que versions have already been promised by The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times, the Oakland Tribune, the Huffington Post and The Sporting News Today, along with magazines from Barron's, Fast Company and Forbes.
Think of the Plastic Logic Que proReader not as yet another ebook reader, but as a tablet computer that will let you access all the important data you need on a daily basis without having to power up your laptop. This isn't for filing on the go or writing up that business report, but rather more akin to those moments in Star Trek where Captain Picard is handed a device to see important stats on the Warp Drive.
The beauty here is that with Plastic Logic's e-ink technology and the ridiculously long battery life, it's guaranteed to last you through the day without conking out on you around lunchtime.
While our play was brief, the Que proReader has masses of potential, and yes, while we agree that it could very well be usurped by the march of the tablet PC over the next year, the key to its success is that long-lasting battery.
If you're used to looking at reports all day, and want the ability to do that without carrying a bag of paperwork, this is definitely worth checking out.
However for those just looking for the next ebook reader, this - while servicing your needs - isn't what you'll be after.
The Plastic Logic Que proReader is expected out later in the year.