A price war might be breaking out among different brands of E Ink readers. The Foxit eSlick is now available on pre-order for only $229. It looks like a pretty standard unit, just like a Cybook, but for about $100 less. The downside of the unit is that it seems to support only TXT and PDF. Foxit does make a bit of a fuss, however, about its PDF software:

pro1.jpgBy making full use of Foxits superior PDF generation and viewing technology, eSlick enables its users to view their favorite newspapers, magazines or novels in PDF format with just one click of a button. With the use of Foxit’s PDF Creator, printable documents like TXT, PPT, DOC, XLS, HTML can be easily converted into a PDF document format and downloaded to the eSlick device in less than one minute. Once the documents are loaded into eSlick, users have the ability to access and view these documents at any given time. And with the Foxit Reader preinstalled in the eSlick device, it provides its users the best in PDF reading experience. The zooming feature allows users to magnify the page size from 50% to 400%. And in the reflow mode, users can read the text that has been automatically reorganized to fit the screen size and also control the font size via the menu.

The pre-order page is “coming” but they say delivery in 5 to 7 weeks. Also, they say that the unit can not be sold or shipped to locations outside the US.

The company, Foxit Software, is in Freemont, CA, and its main website is devoted to PDF creation, editing and reading software, so maybe there is something to the above claims.

“Foxit Software has positioned itself to be a PDF technology solution provider and it has become an alternative to Adobe for many PDF users. Foxit is dedicated to providing high-quality products for PDF file printing, PDF displaying, PDF graphic designing, and PDF text processing. Foxit will keep its development efforts on enabling electronic books, business document exchange, document archiving, digital rights management etc. Also Foxit will actively contribute to new PDF standards,” says the Goal portion of their website.

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  1. Nope, this will in my opinion be another failed venture. Dont these people have R&D departments or an IT guy that uses the internet. Find out what people really want and just do it. I do not want a device that is so limited and only formats to PDF.

    Whats the main problem for most of us want to be Ebook readers. We want a device that will allow us to read our purchased books. Not mess around with conversion software, that requires a 7 year masters degree to learn.

    Stanza almost have the idea, convert nearly everything to Epub and download to device and read it. No effort on my part required. I do realise that when I buy an ebook I have to contend with the DRM rubbish. But thats the price we pay to get the books. But why cant the eInk manufacturers design a unit that runs with software like stanza has. I know there are licencing problems but I would imagine that most board meetings at the Ebook marketers have to be asking each other for ideas on how to make more money for the share holders or CEO bonus’s.
    So seperate the hardware and software and then get together and make deals to share DRMs licence fee free to each other, i’ll show you mine if you show me yours, sort of thing. Then I can buy my eInk device and actually just start reading. I want to buy an Ereader but Im not going to until the device gets away from proprietry reading software that will not convert at the least all my different formats. For now ill keep the iPod touch running along with stanza.
    Oh and lastly the Ereader wants to be a hell of a lot cheaper than they are.

  2. I have to ask the question: Does the conversion software run in Linux?

    The answer is likely no, so I cannot see any value in this thing at all whatsoever.

    In fact, it looks like a thinly veiled attempt at using hardware to advertise the sale of some single use, value free software. The idea that someone might pay for PDF conversion software when nearly every office app can create PDFs is beyond me. I guess Barnum was right: There really is another sucker born every minute. There must be because this company is still in business.

    I really cannot understand why we cannot have an ebook hardware vendor. All these businessmen seem to have their eyes set on all the ebooks they can sell, but selling a DRM free, powerful, and economical reader is not beyond imagination. Release a Free Software client to convert all file types. Make a plugin architecture for third party plugins (like clit). Sell hardware. Profit.

    On the bright side, this pathetic attempt at advertising might be subsidising purchases of a nice piece of hardware. Maybe it could be flashed with some useful software. I am sure it already uses Linux, and therefore, purchasers have a right to change anything on it.

  3. This is essentially a Windows only accessory, because it bundles FoxIt’s virtual PDF printer for Windows. On Windows, any program that can print can create PDFs for the eSlick. I don’t really know if there is a market for PDF-only reading devices, but FoxIt is the PDF expert and if anyone can make this work they can. A larger screen might work better, but would also be later to market and cost more.

    I agree that this isn’t primarily an e-book reader, but if you have lots of standard PDFs and also want to read a few ebooks it will probably work ok.

  4. As long as PDFs are sized properly, this book can work very for ebooks. I have the Jetbook which like the eSlick, basically supports text and PDFs. Feedbooks and Manybooks.net both support downloads of customized PDFs. And inexpensive tools can be found that will allow one to convert .lit files into PDFs as well. Once you figure it out, it takes about 5 minutes to convert a book (maybe less if I ever get around to automating the process).

  5. PDF’s with Acrobat are my least favorite reading experience.

    Foxit makes it slightly better.

    The real problem is that PDF’s are great for printing but were never designed for for online reading.

    What we really need is a format designed for eReading………

  6. A lot of the comments in this thread seem to be somewhat misguided.

    @Tony, PDF is not proprietary (it is in fact an ISO standard) and there is a ton of different PDF converters for Windows, Mac and Linux that will convert any file format to PDF that can be printed.

    @LuYu, Foxit PDF Creator is Windows only yes, but there are other free PDF converters for Linux, Cups-PDF is one. Foxit eSlick will support all PDFs — they don’t have to be created with Foxit’s software.

    @Alan Wallcraft, what about it makes you think that it’s not primarily an eBook Reader? Because it only supports PDFs at the moment? There are tons of eBooks available as PDFs — a good starting point is Planet eBook. It’s definitely not Windows only — it supports all PDFs and PDFs can be created on nearly every platform.

    The more competition the better. Foxit aren’t the only ones working on eBook Reading devices, there’s more to come…

  7. Rowan: I agree that PDF is a very popular ebook format, but it has been a spectacular failure on 6″ EInk devices. This is because almost all PDF “ebooks” are formatted for a large screen (PDFs formatted for a 6″ screen can work well, but are not the norm). The slow refresh rate of EInk means that panning is not practical, so we are left with fixed size zooms or reflowing (which too often produces an unreadable document). The eSlick will be the 1st EInk device with both zooming and reflowing of PDFs (the PRS-505/700 has full page or reflowing, most others have only zooming). It will be interesting to see if Foxit has significantly advanced the state of the art for PDFs on these devices.

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