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Hearst to unveil Skiff Reader at CES

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Heart SkiffCES will be the center of the eReader universe at the end of the week, as we have another device scheduled to be unveiled: the Hearst Skiff, the closest we've seen to electronic paper, and a device that could severely shake up the eBook world.

The Skiff Reader is just over a quarter-inch in overall height, the device is the thinnest e-reader announced to date. It features a 11.5-inch display (measured diagonally) and a resolution of 1200 x 1600 pixels (UXGA). A full touchscreen enables users to navigate and engage with the newspapers, magazines, books and other digital content they purchase through the Skiff Store, as well as personal and work documents. The device weighs just over one pound and lasts over a week of average use between charges.

Of course, the devil is in the details, and the biggest detail we've yet to see: price. The press release was conspicuously silent on the subject of price, though we've been told it could depend on the level of subsidies from Sprint and publishers.

So while we're waiting for more details (we expect to hear more on Thursday, when we're scheduled to preview the device at CES), we're left with these gorgeous product shots:

Hearst Skiff

Hearst Skiff

Here's the full press release:

Skiff, LLC and Sprint today announced that they will preview the Skiff Reader, the first e-reader optimized for newspaper and magazine content, at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas later this week.

The Skiff Reader, the initial dedicated device to integrate the upcoming Skiff e-reading service, is remarkably sleek and easy to use. At just over a quarter-inch in overall height, the device is the thinnest e-reader announced to date. It features the largest and highest-resolution electronic-paper display yet unveiled in a consumer device, at 11.5" in size (measured diagonally) and a resolution of 1200 x 1600 pixels (UXGA). A full touchscreen enables users to intuitively navigate and engage with the newspapers, magazines, books and other digital content they purchase through the Skiff Store, as well as personal and work documents. The device weighs just over one pound and lasts over a week of average use between charges.

“The Skiff Reader’s big screen will showcase print media in compelling new ways,” said Gilbert Fuchsberg, president of Skiff, LLC. “This is consistent with Skiff’s focus on delivering enhanced reading experiences that engage consumers, publishers and advertisers.”

The Skiff Reader is designed not just for sleekness but also for durability. It is the first consumer product to feature the next-generation of e-paper display – one based on a thin, flexible sheet of stainless-steel foil. This contrasts with the fragile glass that is the foundation of almost every electronic screen – and a primary source of vulnerability and breakage risk in the devices that incorporate them. Skiff has worked closely with LG Display (NYSE: LPL), one of the world’s leading display manufacturers and the innovator of the foil-display technology, to optimize and implement this first-of-its-kind non-glass display uniquely for the Skiff Reader.

Skiff has signed a multi-year agreement with Sprint (NYSE:S) to provide 3G connectivity for Skiff’s dedicated e-reading devices in the United States. Plans are underway to have the Skiff Reader available for purchase later this year in more than 1,000 Sprint retail locations across the U.S., as well as online at www.sprint.com. Availability, pricing, additional distribution channels and other details will be disclosed at a later date.

“The forthcoming launch of the Skiff Reader is an exciting development for consumers who are looking for more and more choice in the arena of embedded devices,” said Dan Dooley, president wholesale solutions, Sprint. “We have witnessed a strong demand for e-readers in recent years and now Sprint is showing its commitment to Skiff by making this new device available on the 3G network and for sale in Sprint retail stores.”

In October 2009, Sprint announced the formation of its Emerging Solutions Business that focuses exclusively on the rapid delivery of machine-to-machine and mobile computing solutions to businesses and consumers. Sprint’s partnership with Skiff builds on more than 10 years of experience in working with vendors to provision non-Sprint-branded devices to operate on its networks, as well as extensive expertise in operating multiple platforms and assets.

In addition to 3G, the Skiff Reader will also support wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi.

The Skiff Reader will feature the Skiff service and digital store, allowing consumers to wirelessly purchase and access a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, books, blogs and other content from multiple publishers. Newspaper and magazine content delivered by Skiff will feature visually appealing layouts, high-resolution graphics, rich typography and dynamic updates, supporting key design qualities that help publications differentiate themselves and attract subscribers and advertisers.

Besides the Skiff Reader, Skiff is working with major consumer electronics manufacturers to integrate Skiff’s service, digital store and client software into a range of innovative devices. By supporting a variety of devices from multiple manufacturers, and through complementary applications for major smartphone platforms, Skiff will make it easier for publishers to distribute content and advertising across a range of devices and form factors, an increasingly important goal as the e-reading market continues to grow.

 



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