Lighter, bigger, double the memory, days and days of battery life, and so flexible it can't break, the Plastic Logic E-reader suddenly makes last year's eco-gadget darling, the Kindle, seem like a thing of the past.

And now two MAJOR announcements from Plastic Logic may secure its position as the king of the digital paper world. On Monday, Barnes & Noble announced it would be the exclusive vendor of e-books for the Reader, and on Wednesday AT&T announced the device will come 3G-ready when it hits next year.

The camps are drawn -- on one side Kindle, Amazon and Sprint. And on the other -- the E-reader, B&N, and AT&T. But despite the obvious market share competition that will shortly ensue, Plastic Logic is holding a non-competitive stance. In several recent statements by the company, Plastic Logic indicates they will be marketing the device to business professionals who need on-the-go access to 8.5 x 11 documents and programs like Microsoft Word and Excel.

This statement may hint at a considerably higher price point. The small Kindle retails for $299, and it is expected that the first E-reader will go for $500 or more. So despite the fact that Barnes & Noble is on board, it may be a while before the E-reader gets cheap enough for the buying public.

I'm very fond of these digital paper devices. Aside from the fact that E-ink technology is so damn cool, digital paper devices are moving the eco-friendly ball forward significantly.

As I've blogged before, books and newspapers require an estimated 134 million trees to be felled each year. While a good portion of that comes from sustainable grown trees, very little is FSC-certified and much of the wood comes from arboreal forests in Canada. Then there are the huge water and chemical impacts of treating the pulp. 

The other feature is the amazing battery life of digital paper devices. Because there are no moving parts and no illumination, the static field which charges the two-colored pigment capsules required very little energy, presaging an era of thin flexible computers that can stream content and video.

When the first Harry Potter movie came out, the world chuckled at the novel concept of a magical moving newspaper. But it looks like that bit of magic has arrived.

MNN homepage photo: Plastic Logic 

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