Okay, it’s not how they’re promoting it, but the new txtr Beagle e-reader, unveiled at the Frankfurt Book Fair, looks set to be the world’s first truly disposable e-reader. By that, I mean that it’s so cheap that you can accidentally leave it on the bus and not get too upset.
The device has been covered extensively by tech sites over the past twenty-four hours. The device has a five-inch display and weights just 128 grams. Perhaps the most striking thing is the price: just €9.90 (about $12.80), which is considerably cheaper than offerings from the likes of Amazon and Kobo. But is the txtr Beagle too good to be true?
The device can only store five ebooks at a time. That might seem like plenty, but there seems to be a trend these days for readers to store ebooks in huge numbers and then read (or just delete) them later. I know people who regularly scoop up a hundred or more free ebooks from Amazon in a day. They might only read a few of those, but on a psychological level the limit of five at a time on this device might be an issue.
Then there’s the fact that the txtr Beagle lacks some of the key features of many other e-readers. Resizable text, for example, seems to be off the menu. These aren’t luxury features, either: they’re features that most people take for granted these days. In other words, it seems that the txtr Beagle’s rather basic functionality is going to be front and centre. It’ll let you read ebooks, but that seems to be all it does. No bells, no whistles.
Then again, maybe these are just small problems. The price of the device suggests it’s aimed at those who don’t want to invest too heavily in an e-reader. And as I said earlier, at €9.90, the txtr Beagle is cheap enough to lose without getting too upset. Leave your Kindle Fire on the bus, and you’ll be pretty distraught. Do the same with your txtr Beagle, and it really won’t cost much more than if you’d left a single paperback book. This looks to be the first disposable e-reader, and that’s where it could come into its own and find a niche in the market.