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E-reader release postponed, again, in wake of iPad release

On June 24, the day its Que e-reader was set to release, Plastic Logic emailed those who had pre-ordered the device with the news that the release was postponed indefinitely. While analysts were enthusiastic about the device when it was unveiled in January, many are unsurprised at the Que's setback given the current choice of e-readers on the market.

Separating itself from the Sony Reader, Amazon's Kindle, and Barnes & Noble's Nook, the Plastic Logic Que is aimed especially at business users, able to handle Microsoft Word files, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, digital books, PDFs, magazines, and newspapers, and to synchronize with Microsoft Outlook to display e-mails and calendar. With its multi-fuctionality, sleek design, and 8.5x11-inch "shatterproof" display, the Que is also priced higher: $649 for a 4GB model with WiFi, and $799 for 8GB, WiFi and 3G.

The Plastic Logic Que generated enthusiastic reviews at the CES Consumer Electronics Show in January, but when Apple's iPad - which is priced beginning at $500 and handles a range of software and formats with a large color touchscreen - was revealed just weeks later, analysts expected it would overshadow recent e-reader launches.

"This is going to do some significant damage to existing e-readers on the market," said Rob Enderle of Enderle Group, "even the formatted ones like the Plastic Logic Que."

Now analysts are pessimistic abuot the future of the Que e-reader. Wired magazine comments that the Que "is likely to be a product that will be dead on arrival - if it ever makes it to market," and former PC World editor-in-chief Harry McCracken calls the device "late to the point of irrelevance" on his site Technologizer.

News of the Que postponement also comes just a week after Amazon and Barnes & Noble lowered the prices of their e-readers, to $189 and $199 respectively.

The Que was scheduled to ship in mid-April, then on June 24, and is now postponed indefinitely. The company has yet to announce changes in its color version of the Que, which is expected to ship in 2011.