Plastic Logic on Thursday unveiled a long-anticipated QUE electronic reader aimed at giving business travelers a "paperless briefcase."
Plastic Logic unveiled two QUE proReader models designed for getting work done on the road as well as for reading digitized books.
"We are going beyond an e-reader product and actually developing a whole new category," Plastic Logic chief executive Richard Archuleta said while holding up a QUE, the size of a legal-size notepad.
"It's very cool," he said.
E-readers have become hot products as hardware makers race into a market dominated by Kindle devices made by online retail powerhouse Amazon.com.
Plastic Logic billed QUE as an electronic document tool that goes beyond what Kindles and other e-readers have to offer.
"Smart phones have small screens; laptops are big, heavy bulky and take a while to boot up and they are pretty hard to hold in your hand," Archuleta said during a press event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
"We saw an opportunity that sits between those devices: an electronic piece of paper that sits in the middle."
Archuleta said the QUE will introduce business travelers to the age of the "paperless briefcase."
Plastic Logic introduce a proReader with four gigabytes of memory, capable of storing as many as 35,000 documents, with a price of 649 dollars. An eight gigabyte model was unveiled with a price of 799 dollars.
Both models can download reading content wirelessly at Internet "hot spots," while the higher end model also connects to the Internet using AT&T's mobile telephone network.
Plastic logic on Thursday also launched an online shop at que.com where proReaders can be pre-ordered. Shipping of devices will being in April, according to the California-based firm.
Archuleta said QUE is the first of what will be a series of specialized e-readers for students, teachers, health care professionals and other niche markets.
"We are trying to give you the benefits of paper with none of the drawbacks, and add new functionality," Archuleta said.
"With the proReader, we kept a laser focus on the mobile business professional."
Touch-screen QUE devices allow users to mark-up and annotate documents as well as work with spreadsheets and other business software.
The home pages on QUE devices display Outlook emails and attachments along with downloaded reading material ranging from books to PDF files. A virtual keyboard pops onscreen for working with documents.
Plastic Logic partnered with top US book seller Barnes & Noble in an online store selling digital reading material for the QUE.
QUE complements a Nook e-reader sold by Barnes & Noble because it targets a business market while the Nook is aimed at those that read for fun, according to Kevin Frain, vice president of online commerce at the book seller.
"QUE targets Business Week best sellers while Nook targets New York Times best sellers," Frain said in a video presentation at the press conference.
"We are really excited about selling QUE proReader at bn.com."
QUE has a feature for delivery of digital newspapers and magazines and announced it has expanded its media content partnerships to include Forbes, CNBC, and the Wall Street Journal.
QUE "knows which way is up" and flips on-screen content to fit how the devices are being held.
QUE devices also synch wirelessly to emails and attachments on BlackBerry smartphones that dominate the business market, and can route documents to printers.
"Plastic Logic has taken a very fresh look at the marketplace," said Glenn Lurie of AT&T. "I see this device taking the place of the four newspapers, three magazines, and pile of files in your briefcase."Reuse content