Kindle Getting New Competition From Netbook Maker Asus

Throw another entry into the e-reader market: Asus, the company from Taiwan that basically invented the “netbook,” plans to get into e-readers, too, the U.K. Times reports.

One proposed model has two colour screens, which more closely resembles a paper book. A “budget” reader could make it to market at $200, or about $100 less than the Kindle.

And Asus is eyeing many more features than e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader lines include, such as the ability to make Skype calls or use a built-in Webcam.

Asus isn’t the only company making this bet: It sounds like the same sort of converged device that Apple’s forthcoming tablet or Mike Arrington’s CrunchPad could be like. But if any company can make one of these work for mainstream audiences, single-feature readers like the Kindle and Sony Reader could miss the boat.

Times Online: Asus claims its ebook reader will be cleverer and more versatile than the current crop available from companies such as Sony and Amazon. It aims to unveil the device before the end of the year, according to Jerry Shen, the company’s president — and it may not be just one device, either.

The company is looking at a budget and a premium version, according to a spokesman for Asus in the UK. Details are scarce but the more expensive device is expected to follow closely a prototype dreamt up by the firm’s research and development team earlier this year.

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