“Japanese firm Matsushita Electric Industrial will reportedly sell a low-cost electronic book for buyers that can last up to six months on two AA-sized batteries. Normal liquid-crystal displays flicker or refresh the screen about 60 times a second, with each refresh requiring power. Matsushita’s LCD screen needs only one refresh, when the page is ‘turned.’ Thereafter, the image is locked and no more power is required, according to a report in the Japanese daily Nikkei Electronics Asia Online.” – ZDnet, May 2, via eBook Ad.

The TeleRead take: Well, so much for the battery argument against e-books. And remember, this isn’t any old vendor. Matsushita owns the “Panasonic” name. A few more details about the new gizmo:

It does have limitations, however. It can’t really do grayscale, and instead displays blue text and images against a white background, according to the report.

When the magazine-sized device–called Sigma e-book–is opened, two 1024-by-768-pixel displays, measuring 7.2 inches each, are seen side-by-side. It weighs about one pound.

The storage media is a Secure Digital card, and the unit is expected to cost $250 when launched later this year.

Fiction and novels will be only reading material at first.

One other possible negative is that Matsushita sees content as a money-maker and will use DRM with the Secure Digital card. Does this mean Gemstar II? Let’s hope that Matsushita can appreciate the riskiness of this business model. Just became one has a head start on hardware doesn’t mean it will last. Don’t use that as an excuse to gouge consumers or limit their choices–especially when PDAs sooner or later will catch up.


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