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D7 Tech DEMO: Plastic Logic

Plastic Logic Reader

Amazon (AMZN) isn’t the only company that wants you to read books and newspapers on a handheld device. The Kindle has a bevy of competitors, some of which already exist–like Sony’s (SNE) Reader–and those that have yet to hit the market. Plastic Logic falls in the second category. The Silicon Valley-based company’s device, which every D7 attendee will receive, won’t be on the market until next year. But today the company will provide an update on the device’s progress and show off some interesting features, including a first look at the gadget’s touchscreen user interface. Look ma, no keyboard!

Session Highlights

Live Blog

  • Walt and Kara welcome CEO Richard Archuleta and Product Manager Anusha Nirmalananthan onstage.┬áThe pitch: The Plastic Logic e-reader is designed for business use–“relaxing reading” and documents.
  • The Reader looks a lot like a Kindle DX. But again, note that there’s no keyboard, just a touchscreen–based on technology specific to Plastic Logic. Transistors made out of plastic (hence name). Shows off transistor with Walt’s image imprinted. Cool/scary.
  • Today: a first look at the UI, which hasn’t been shown before. The demo duo show a cover of Fortune magazine. A tap of the touchscreen brings up a toolbar showing tabs with recently read documents. The next view, a bit delayed, shows “business documents.” You turn pages with swipe gestures (familiar to iPhone users).
  • Kara asks about lag between pages, but is assured that this will improve over time.
  • Open platform: PDF, Word, Excel, Powerpoint. If you can print it out, you can use it.
  • Will there be an e-commerce platform a la Kindle? Yes. The e-commerce site that isn’t online yet, but customers will be able to buy and/or subscribe to books and magazines. Pricing? Not set yet. Archuleta: “We’re actually in discussions with some of the people in the audience about that right now.”

Plastic Logic Reader

  • The device will have both 3G wireless a la Kindle and Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, and WiFi a la iPhone. Walt: So battery life is 15 minutes? Archuleta: Nope. We’re being smart, trying to figure optimal way to move content.
  • Kara seems to have busted the screen by hitting it too hard. Careful, Kara! Kara now wants to know why it’s not flexible.
  • Archuleta: We did user testing, and what users told us was that flexible made them “a little nervous.” That surprised us, but we made it firmer. Color? “Coming, but not next year.” Trade off is color image vs. easy-to-read text [some of Plastic Logic’s competitors disagree, by the way].
  • Kindle? We’re optimized for business users. [So is the $359 Kindle, no?] Business users require lots of different types of content. Not just about books at all. “A very different usage case.”
  • What’s it going to cost? Nope.
  • Higher or lower than $500? “The market sets pricing. We don’t set pricing.” Groans from audience. Kara reminds audience they get it for free, so stop griping!

Plastic Logic Demo Photos

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The Plastic Logic Reader.