txtr beagleOver at The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder posted an item earlier today about a truly eye-opening new e-reader known as the txtr beagle. The Berlin-based company behind the device—they’re known simply as txtr—is marketing the beagle as being the world’s smallest e-reader; the E Ink display is only five inches.

And at least in terms of product design, the beagle is also one of the most gorgeous e-readers I’ve ever seen. It comes in a range of colors, including four fantastic pastels, and it weighs in at just 4.5 ounces. Even better is the fact that it uses no charges or cables whatsoever: It’s powered instead by three AAA batteries, and—get this—e-books can be downloaded via Bluetooth. Here’s what Hoffelder has to say about the beagle’s Bluetooth feature:

The Beagle doesn’t have Wifi or a touchscreen, but it does have something almost as good. It has Bluetooth, and that means you should be able to pass ebooks from your Android smartphone or tablet – no cable required. That is a really smart move; txtr just made it easy for anyone to add the Beagle to their existing stable of mobile devices without having to worry about the hassle of another set of cables.

According to an Ubergizmo post about the device, “txtr claims that the Beagle should last you anywhere from 12 to 15 books before you need to juice up the batteries.” Incredibly, it gets even better from there, because it appears as if the Beagle may soon become known as the world’s cheapest e-reader as well. According to the e-reading rumor mill, an European wireless carrier is going to be subsidizing the Beagle, will which result in a price point of just €9.90 for the German market; in U.S. Dollars, that’s about $12.75.

Click here to check out the txtr beagle video.

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  1. The video at the-digital-reader.com makes it appear dreadfully anti-social–turning an ereader into s a reason not to relate to those around you, even a boy friend.

    That said, it’d be great to see it come here. One of my chief frustrations with all my digital reading gadgets: an iPhone 3GS, a Kindle 3, and the new iPad, it that all are bit pricey to lose or have stolen. If a used paperback I bought for 50 cents goes missing, it’s no big deal. If one of them disappears, it is a big deal.

    But I’m not sure who would subsidize it here. I can’t even understand why a European telco would do that. With only Bluetooth I/O you can’t put ads on the thing.

  2. If you’ve got an android phone with bluetooth, why not read on that? And AAA batteries? Really? I used AAA in my ancient Palm III but not since.

    Any thoughts on where we buy the books? Will it support ePub? What about Adobe-encrypted ePub?

    This reminds me of that mythical roll-screen phone that was always just about to happen but never did. Still, fingers crossed… I’ll buy one if it’s $12.00.

  3. @Rob Preece:
    e-ink is easier on the eyes for some people than the LCD screen of an Android phone (though the LCD screen probably has sharper text). The screen is probably bigger also, thus allowing for more of the book to fit on the screen.

    Personally, I like the fact that it runs on AAA batteries. At least they’re replaceable. Consumer protection laws really should require that all electronic devices have replaceable batteries. I’ve had enough of expensive electronic devices becoming expensive paperweights after a year or two because of a faulty battery (seemingly always within a few months of warranty expiration).

    According to the US txtr site, it will support “all formats supported by smartphone(e.g. epub, pdf).” Since their e-book store mentions Adobe Digital Editions, I imagine it would support Adobe DRM ePubs as well.

  4. What a great idea…what terrible execution.

    I really hope other companies are paying attention and understand there’s a huge market for a little, really low-cost portable ereader which is developed properly.

  5. The updates and comments at the site have clarified things:
    The Beagle is the Palm Foleo of ebook readers. It is totally dependent on the cellphone. It doesn’t store any standard ebooks on board, but rather the phone app renders the ebook file to a proprietary format that then gets stored on the Beagle; up to a maximum of five.
    The advertised price assumes a carrier subsidy and this implies lock-in to the carrier’s ebookstore.
    Open it ain’t.
    The hardware is pretty but the software and business model isn’t.

  6. I’m also on the “awesome idea…terrible execution” boat.

    Great size and form factor.

    AAA batteries are great because they are replaceable by the owner–the current generation of ebook readers are designed to be obsolete because the proprietary batteries die in time.

    This device would be awesome if it just had a USB port for sideloading books from your PC or other device: A cheap, portable, disposable, universal ebook reader.

    Word has it that there will be Txtr apps for Android, ios and desktop, but mandating bluetooth for file transfer, with no way to sideload and no way to load books you didn’t buy from txtr, this potentially awesome device is a complete and utter fail.

  7. It says on the txtr website:
    “Memory 4 GB. Number of books cached: Up to 5”

    So what’s the 4GB used for appart from an OS.
    You must be able to store items on them.

  8. Sounds like it’s basically an intelligent e-ink screen with an offline cache that doesn’t update in real time.

    An interesting idea.

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