Asus Eee Readers To Give Kindle A Real Challenge

If you were considering entering the e-reader market, it's pretty safe to say your window of opportunity has all but closed. Amazon already has a major chunk of the overall market share, but even overseas, companies like BeBook and Sony have perfectly acceptable options on store shelves. Now, one more player is entering the lion's den, and boy, they're sure packing quite the promise.

While most e-book reader companies have competed on features and ease of use as early adopters generally ignored price points, Asus is making a stand and looking out for the bargain hunter. You heard right--Asus, the same company responsible for the Eee PC and the netbook revolution, is getting into the arena. According to a Times Online report, the company could branch out from its PC/accessories core and introduce an e-book reader by the end of this year. The real kicker? It could be well under $200 at launch, which means that even the layperson could spring for one if they get the itch.

In fact, Asus is planning two new Eee Readers. One for the low-end crowd, and one for those thirsty for the luxuries of inbuilt 3G, etc. Did we mention that it'll look different than any other e-reader out there? Because it will. Unlike the single-screen options available now, Asus will be introducing dual screen models that more closely resemble the two-fold aspect of books, and it'll also enable users to read on one page and have a web page open on the other. Or they could read on one page and look up something related to the text by typing on the virtual keyboard on the other panel. No matter what, it's hard to say having two panels isn't better than having one, though we will confess that we're curious to see what kind of impact this will have on overall battery life.

The hinged spine will reportedly open and close just like an actual book, though no details are available on what kind of format support it will have nor what kind of innards will be present. But if Asus adds speakers, a webcam and support for Skype (all of which are possibilities based on the report), the Kindle could quickly find itself behind the curve. Of course, you'd have to be crazy to think that Amazon wasn't already working on a more advanced version of its own reader, but who knows if it can hit this kind of MSRP.

If you've been holding off on an e-book reader due to price, would you jump in if Asus could product a model between $100 and $200 with twin screens? We definitely would be tempted, particularly if it could surf HotHardware between chapters.