Acer makes handheld push with new e-reader, Android tablet

E-reader set to hit the U.S. market during the third quarter

Acer showed off a prototype tablet device and an e-reader at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday, setting the stage for the company to push into new mobile product segments.

President and CEO Gianfranco Lanci unveiled the tablet prototype. It runs Google's Android operating system, has a 7-inch display a keypad . Acer didn't reveal when the tablet will be released or how much it will cost.

Acer's LumiRead is closer to market. The e-reader weighs 290 grams, has a 6-inch e-ink display and a barcode scanner that can read the ISBN numbers from physical books to search online bookstores or to make wish lists. It can connect to Wi-Fi and 3G networks, and has an Internet browser and the ability to convert Web content into an e-book format. It will also share e-books and audiobooks with other Acer devices and computers through the company's new clear.fi system, which is based on the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) home networking standard.

Next week, Acer will name the company that developed the browser that will be used in the LumiRead, said Trisha Pan, a senior product marketing manager at Acer. The browser, which Acer customized, will not be Google's Chrome OS, she said.

The LumiRead is 10.3 millimeters thick, has 2GB of internal memory -- enough to hold 1,500 books -- and a microSD slot for additional memory, Acer said.

Users will be able to purchase and download e-books from several companies. Acer has signed agreements to make content available from Barnes & Noble in the U.S. and Libri.de, in Germany. Books will also be available from Chinese IT company Founder Group, which owns a library of 600,000 e-books.

The company is also negotiating with French and Italian content providers.

LumiRead includes a feature called Smart Download that allows users to select an area of a Web page -- the text of a news article rather than the surrounding advertisements, for example -- and convert the HTML into an e-book that can be read offline. This allows users to get rid of undesirable content and thereby increase the size of the text that they want to read, said Andrew Chuang, Acer's manager of mobile computing, adding that the feature saves battery life by reducing online browsing time

Acer estimated the battery life of the LumiRead at 7,000 to 8,000 consecutive page turns or two weeks in standby mode. The device is due to reach U.S. stores during the third quarter of this year and will go on sale in China and Germany during the fourth quarter.

The company did not disclose pricing for the e-reader.

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Megan Ko

IDG News Service
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