The ‘txtr Beagle is a small, compact ebook reader that focuses solely on being a screen for your books – it has no WiFi and no 3G or mobile data connections.
Books are bought and loaded onto the Beagle via a Bluetooth capable app on the user’s mobile phone.
Currently only handsets running Google’s Android operating system are supported but an app for Apple’s iOS platform (iPad and iPhones) should be available by the time the Beagle goes on sale.
The unit I’ve been playing with for the past couple of months is a pre-production unit provided to us by ‘txtr. The final product is expected to be offered by mobile phone providers as part of a bundle to help attract and retain customers.
UK customers could get their hands on the Beagle from as early as the first quarter of this year and ‘txtr have suggested it’ll cost end users as little as €9 once mobile carrier subsidies are taken into account.
The projected low cost means you’re unlikely to stress too much about taking the Beagle out and about with you and makes it almost disposable. Could this be the ereader people are willing to take into the bathroom?
Unlike probably all other modern ereaders, the Beagle uses AAA batteries instead of a built-in rechargeable battery pack. This has allowed the firm’s designers to come up with a device which is just 5mm thick. It also means you’re only a newsagent away from a fresh charge should you find your batteries expiring while on the move.
‘txtr says a set of batteries will last about a year. Two months after first switching mine on, the supplied batteries are still going strong.
The battery compartment provides a rounded bottom to the device which offers a comfortable, natural place to hold it. It’s clear the overall feel and experience of the Beagle has been foremost in the design process.
The 5” Vizplex eInk screen offers 8 levels of grey scale so you can set the contrast level to one which best suits your eyes and environment, and the overall size makes it a doddle to pop in a handbag or jacket pocket.
Fashion fans will be pleased to know the Beagle comes with a swappable high-colour back plate which snaps on and off with the minimum of effort.
The Beagle is a refreshing departure from the ‘me too’ look and feel of its rivals and, while unabashedly a budget reader, provides a fantastic user experience and feels far more ‘up market’ than the projected selling price would lead one to expect.
It’s also an ideal ‘first reader’ for younger members of the family because mum and dad can control everything that goes on it. This alone is likely to make it a winner with many.
We think the Beagle has the potential to be hugely disruptive – cheap enough for mobile carriers to offer without really increasing the costs of retaining customers while being good enough to use that fewer people buy a Kindle, NOOK or Kobo.
One to watch out for.