IREX Unveils E-reader, Partners with B&N

Adrian Versteegh

With support from several prominent American partners, Philips spinoff IREX Technologies entered the U.S. e-book market yesterday when it unveiled a device intended to compete directly with the Kindle and the Sony Reader. The IREX DR800SG, which features 3G wireless connectivity through Verizon and access to the recently launched Barnes & Noble eBookstore, will land in Best Buy stores late next month.

At yesterday’s official launch event in New York City, IREX—best known for developing electronic paper—said its new e-reader would support freely transferrable content and a broad range of document formats, including the ePub standard. The black-and-white, 8.1-inch screen on the DR800SG is manipulated with a magnetic stylus rather than by touch, a decision the Dutch company said increased screen brightness and readability. In addition to the 750,000 titles stocked by the Barnes & Noble eBookstore, the device will have access to over a thousand newspapers through the NewspaperDirect service.  

The Qualcomm Gobi chipset in the DR800SG also makes it the first e-reader to support worldwide wireless access. Once the device launches in Europe next year, overseas travelers will be able to purchase and download e-books while abroad. A color-screen version of the device is expected to debut by 2011.

The IREX DR800SG will go on sale in October for $399.