Sharp opens books with new tablet devices

Sharp announced it is joining the wave of consumer electronics companies in the e-reader and tablet marketplace with two new Android-powered devices.

The company unveiled the tablets during a press event in Tokyo on September 27. The two devices are flagship e-readers for the company's newly announced cloud-based e-book and media service, Galapagos.

The first is a pocketable tablet with a 5.5 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel LCD display. It is designed to be a portable "paperback book"-like device that can be easily carried. It comes with a track ball feature that helps users navigate through content and "flip the pages with one hand."

The second model has a 10.8 inch, 1366 x800 pixel HD LCD touchscreen display (slightly bigger than the iPad's 9.7 inch, 1024 x 768 pixel LCD display) and has been crafted as a stay-at-home consumption device. The larger screen is tailored for reading materials that require more screen real estate, such as the two-page spreads found in magazines.

The devices will be equipped with a Wireless LAN connection so users can browse through reading material from the around 30,000 newspapers, magazines and books in Sharp's new e-book store.

The devices' full color screen, "rich graphic capabilities" and customizable Android operating system are elements that have been carefully selected for Japan's visually-rich book culture - where traditional e-readers such as Amazon's black and white e-ink Kindle lack the ability to display graphic novels in all their splendor.

In addition to e-books, users can also view PC data, documents, maps, images and websites on the displays. A built-in social networking service application also lets readers share comments and e-book lists with their friends while game lovers will be able to battle against the computer too.

Sharp's e-book service is due to launch in December 2010. The company is yet to announce launch and pricing details for the two tablets but is confident that it will be able to sell around 1 million units in 2011.

For more information about the tablets (in Japanese only) visit http://www.sharp.co.jp/mediatablet/.

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