[While Android sneaks onto netbooks, Windows 7 is proving a worthy competitor.]
Skiff. The thinnest E-reader announced to date at about a quarter-inch thick, the Skiff has a 11.5-inch screen that can display publications in black-and-white designs reminiscent of their print versions. The separate Skiff service will sell and deliver publications and books to the reader through a high-speed connection with Sprint's 3G network.
The Skiff uses a flexible-screen technology based on a sheet of stainless steel foil, though early models won't bend. The reader weighs just over a pound and could last a week between charges, depending on use.
Skiff execs say that they'll make the downloading service and publications store available to other devices and that they hope one day to get out of the hardware business altogether. The Skiff is due later this year, though prices haven't been announced.
Que. With its large-format and thin design, Plastic Logic is taking aim at a particular group—business professionals—with its Que reader. The Que's 10.7-inch, gray-scale display taps a library of books, newspapers, and magazines, many with a business focus. The software can also display Microsoft Word and Excel files and has a calendar that syncs with Outlook. It's one of several readers allied with Barnes & Noble, which will sell the Que in its stores alongside its own Nook reader.
Only a third of an inch thick, the Que sports a British-developed screen that is said to be shatterproof. It's based on new plastic substrates that make it theoretically bendable (though not in the Que). Books are displayed with the same easy-to-read E-ink as Amazon's Kindle. The reader will present publications in formats similar to their print counterparts. Shipping in April, a Wi-Fi model will cost $650; one with 3G will be $800.
JooJoo. Perhaps the most similar to Apple's iPad, the JooJoo has a 12.1-inch color touch-screen that's ready for Web surfing, document work, and high-definition video. But unlike the iPad, the JooJoo supports Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash, which opens it to streaming videos from the popular Netflix and Hulu services—but it doesn't run the wide variety of iPhone apps that will be available to the iPad.
The JooJoo is about a half-inch thick and weighs about 2.5 pounds with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections and a built-in webcam. The name comes from a West African term for an object's mystical properties, and maker Garage Fusion claims users can be surfing in a magical 9 seconds. The device has been the subject of a disagreement among original backers that spilled into a lawsuit. But Singapore-based Garage Fusion says it raised added capital and is plowing ahead with JooJoo's release.
Deliveries are expected later this spring at $500.