Panasonic Japan’s recent entry into the e-book market is looking pretty nice. Unlike E-Ink based displays, the WordsGear can display full color images.
The WordsGear offers an amazingly sharp 5.6-inch TFT display with a 1024×600 pixel resolution (that’s about 211 pixels per inch.) This means reading small type should be no problem, and easy on the eyes. Thanks to a special touch sensitive grip, it’s designed to be controlled with a single hand, so you can even use it while standing up on the train or bus.
Since the display isn’t one of those electrostatic ones, it can also handle moving images, and cam play MPEG4 video clips. There’s also AAC and WMA audio playback, and you can listen to your tunes while reading. Content is stored on SD cards, providing plenty of expandability. The rechargeable battery should give you about 6 hours of reading on a single charge.
There’s a huge catalog of e-books for the device (all in Japanese, though) available from Saidoku. From what I can tell, you can load up your own PDF documents so you won’t be limited to Japanese content.
The Wordsgear can be ordered from gadget importer Dynamism for $479 (which is a significant premium over the price in Japan, which works out to about $350.) I’m hoping Panasonic will decide to make an English language version at some point, but I’m not holding my breath.