It’s only a matter of time now. As e-book readers mature, the image of children lugging dated, heavy bundles of pulp will become as anachronistic as them writing on slate boards. Besides the much-heralded release of the Kindle 2, several other devices in this product category have been upgraded to make them strong contenders to netbooks as the de facto classroom device of the future. Look for even more readers released this year from manufactures including Samsung, Endless Ideas and others.
IRex introduced a new version this year that comes with tablet functionality and wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, along with a large 10.2-inch display and lightweight design. IRex Digital Reader (about $860)
Last year, Sony introduced the latest version of the PRS, adding a number of improvements such as a new touch-screen interface. The internal storage has now doubled to 512mb and which could be expanded using a memory card to 32GB. It also includes LED lighting for use in poor lighting conditions. Sony PRS-700BC (about $350),
The Amazon Kindle 2 carries a host of upgrades, including better battery life, the ability to read text aloud, and increased memory. Amazon Kindle 2 (about $360)
Fujitisu’s FLEPia is so far the only color e-book we’ve seen. The device includes Bluetooth, WI-FI, touch screen, 4GB of storage via an SD slot, and promises to have 40 hours of continuous use. Right now the device is available only in Japan.