Updated: New txtr beagle eReader to Cost Less than 10 Euros (video)

A few minutes ago I showed you the new ereader from Bookeen, the one which was following the trend of lighted higher resolution screens.

Txtr, a German ebook developer, went in the other direction. They've just unveiled the Beagle, their new cheap ereader. This baby has a 5" (800x600) E-ink screen and measures less than 5mm thick. It's being pitched as the smallest ereader in the world, and for once that marketing hype might be true.

This ereader fills a volume of only 100CC, so while it might have a larger footprint and weight than the 111 gram Trekstor Pyrus Mini, it very likely has a smaller volume.

The Beagle doesn't have Wifi or a touchscreen, but it does have something almost as good.  It has Bluetooth, and that means you should be able to pass ebooks from your Android smartphone or tablet - no cable required. That is a really smart move; txtr just made it easy for anyone to add the Beagle to their existing stable of mobile devices without having to worry about the hassle of another set of cables. But the press release does say that this is Android only (the app requires Android 4.0), and that could be an issue.

Update: A txtr rep has shown up in the comments and he says that the txtr iOS app will also soon get support for transferring ebooks to the Beagle - PCs too.

Power is supplied by a couple AAA batteries, and txtr is boasting that you can read for a year on a single charge. The Beagle also comes with 4GB of storage (no card slot), and the pared down hardware has resulted in the Beagle weighing in at only 128 grams.

Final Update: And here's the catch. One reader noticed (and txtr has confirmed) that the Beagle can only carry 5 ebooks at a time. They have to be pre-rendered by the Android app before being transferred over. (Thanks, Flobber!)

As for price, the 10 to 20 euros mentioned before is the subsidized price; I don't know what the actual retail will be. If you want the lower price you will need to contact a cell network which carries it and buy it from them - with contract, probably.

Second Update: txtr's promo video is finally live on Vimeo. it had been locked when this post was published.

txtr beagle from Yvan Go on Vimeo.

There had been previous attempts to sell ereaders via the major mobile networks, including Amazon's ongoing partnership with AT&T,  but so far as I know none had been all that successful in selling lots of devices. I think the txtr Beagle could change that.

Txtr has come up with a device which complements most any Android smartphone in size, weight, and function. It practically sells itself.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

41 Comments

  1. Mike Cane9 October, 2012

    >>>Power is supplied by a couple AAA batteries, and txtr is boasting that you can read for a year on a single charge.

    You mean “on a single pair of batteries.”

    Reply
    1. fjtorres9 October, 2012

      First thing a heavy reader will do is feed it rechargeable AAAs. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Mike Cane9 October, 2012

        Yeah, I already carried spares in my Palm III days!

        Reply
  2. fjtorres9 October, 2012

    Looks like a near miss.
    It has a *lot* of highly desirable features but the tie-in to the cellphone operators probably means it will be tied in to proprietary ebook stores with limited big-publishing-only content.
    It also means the raw price probably won’t be as attractive as the Kobo mini.
    Too bad…

    Reply
  3. Sweetpea9 October, 2012

    “But the press release does say that this is Android only (here is the required app), and that could be an issue.”
    Why?

    Reply
    1. fjtorres9 October, 2012

      Apparently the reader is intended as a cellphone accessory. Which implies a lockdown and a tie-in to the telcos ebookstores.

      Reply
    2. Nate Hoffelder9 October, 2012

      iPhones, laptops, iPads, and a bunch of other devices have Bluetooth but cannot be used to transfer files to the Beagle. That is an unfortunate limitation. Also, the Beagle’s functionality is dependent on the smartphone’s battery life.

      I would much prefer to find a way to transfer files from my laptop. That would be easier for me.

      Reply
      1. Sweetpea10 October, 2012

        Considering the percentage of Android users (more than 75%) vs the percentage of Ios users (in Germany), I think they were smart to first make an android app.

        check this graph: http://www.nu.nl/files/datajournalistiek/highcharts/examples/marktaandeeleuseptember.htm. Only Spain has a higher percentage of Android users… (for those not fluent in Dutch, the countries in order are: Great Brittain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Europe and the US)

        Reply
      2. Ossie_AGP20 October, 2012

        Apple products require iTunes to transfer files to or from their portable devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad…) that’s why they don’t allow Bluetooth file sharing.
        Computers with Bluetooth should be able to transfer files…

        Reply
  4. cookie9 October, 2012

    Did they ever unveil the mini? I thought it was speculative. This announcement sounds more official.

    Reply
  5. Tleliveld9 October, 2012

    Transfer ebooks from your laptop comes next. Supporting iOS too. Reading on the txtr beagle does not require your smartphone. So it’s off-line in that sense. To transfer a book your smartphone must be on of course. Reading on the txtr beagle will impact the smartphone battery less than reading the book on that smartphone. On a different note, txtr’s eBook platform is Adobe certified. The beagle however does not count as an extra device in the Eco system.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder9 October, 2012

      Thanks for the update!

      While it’s good to know that the Beagle is Adobe certified I know I won’t ever need it. Adding that to the Bluetooth file transfer increases the chances that the process will fail. I would only transfer DRM-free ebooks for that reason.

      Reply
  6. […] German e-reader company has launched its device . Likely to be priced at a startling €10, the txtr beagle  5” e-reader is small and light, and runs on two AAA […]

    Reply
  7. […] We’re all used to seeing keyboards, headsets, and speakers as Bluetooth accessories but have you ever seen a smartphone with an optional ereader as an accessory? Txtr, an ebook developer based in Berlin, just unveiled the Beagle. […]

    Reply
  8. Mike Cane9 October, 2012

    Wait. What? You have to use an app separately to transfer an eBook to the Beagle? Huh?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder9 October, 2012

      Yep. That’s an issue.

      Reply
      1. fjtorres9 October, 2012

        I’ll say. Its starting to remind me of their earlier, aborted reader. Great design sense wrapped in… questionable… software and business model.
        Still no word on the real, standalone price?

        Reply
  9. Flobber9 October, 2012

    Looks like the device is really dumb. The Android-app pre-renders the books and the reader itself may only hold five of them; no dynamic fonts-styles or sizes, no orientation switching. Seems to be just an image-viewer with 5 folders – an accessory for your mobile phone. And if you watch the youtube video you’ll see that you don’t want to change the batteries more then once a year …

    So business as usual for txtr – they screw up.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder9 October, 2012

      But it has 4GB of storage. Where did you read that it only holds 5 ebooks?

      Edit: The press release says it can pre-cache up to 5 ebooks. I think that means you can have 5 open at one time, not that you can only have 5 on the device.

      Reply
      1. Flobber9 October, 2012

        The German product page (http://de.txtr.com/beagle/) says under “Technical Details”: Speicher – 4GB; bis zu fünf vorgerenderte Bücher (Memory – 4GB; up to five pre-rendered books). Of course, 4GB is plenty for only five books. Maybe the limit is due to Adobe license details – they claim they don’t need extra licenses for the reader, only a single license for the phone.

        Also under “Technical Details”: Unterstützte Medienformate – alle vom Smartphone oder vom PC unterstützten Formate (z.B. ePub, PDF) (Supported media types – all types supported by the smartphone or the PC (i.e. ePub, PDF)). For me this sounds like the reader itself does not support any format (except its proprietary pre-rendered format). Even if you could put ePubs on the device, it wouldn’t know how to render them.

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder9 October, 2012

          I think you are misreading those details. If the Beagle could only handle 5 titles at a time then the 4GB of storage would be exceedingly redundant.

          Reply
          1. Flobber9 October, 2012

            German IT-magazin Heise just updated their article about the Beagle to mention, that it only holds up to 5 books. Same on Golem news.

            As I see it, the Beagle only has a tiny CPU (maybe ATmega size, like Arduino) without much RAM. As is known, an eInk display takes no power while idling, but on regular ereaders the 32-128 MB of RAM is the battery killer. It needs to be refreshed to hold the rendering-engine (and often a Linux OS) in memory. With pre-rendered books and a tiny CPU, you can turn the whole system off (no touch panel, gyro, sdcard that needs to be powered). That’s how you can get 1 year out of two AAAs.

          2. Nate Hoffelder9 October, 2012

            I just got confirmation from txtr. You are correct.

  10. Bill Smith9 October, 2012

    What a great idea…what terrible execution.

    I hope other companies are paying attention and realize there is a huge market for a small, very cheap portable ereader that is designed properly.

    Reply
    1. mcjw9 October, 2012

      It’s a risky business model because e-ink isn’t cheap… I wonder if their efforts to recoup the hardware and distribution costs result in an annoying and intrusive app… or perhaps the hardware is just vapor/bait… after all they do have 91 1-star against 75 5-star ratings…

      Reply
  11. txtr beagle, el lector más pequeño y asequible | GCtoday9 October, 2012

    […] Vía | The Digital Reader […]

    Reply
  12. Reader9 October, 2012

    The need for a facebook account to sign in to the txtr app is a non-starter for me.

    It would have been a great solution for schools in the developing world if the software wasn’t so limited.

    Reply
  13. […] online maggiori informazioni. Sotto il filmato promozionale. Altre dettagli nel sito txtr.Via: the-digital-readerTags:E-Ink E-Ink Pearl ebook reader News & Rumors txtr Beagle txtr eReader Follow @netbooknewsit […]

    Reply
  14. getchaos10 October, 2012

    Well…
    there are a few drawbacks.

    According to this article
    http://www.lesen.net/ereader/txtr-beagle-kleiner-preis-grose-fragezeichen-5446/
    it’s just a Vizplex-E-Ink-Panel and the prerendered books are said to be Pictures that still fill up the 4 GB of memory and through Bluetooth, this could take a long while for more than one book.

    Without a mobile contract it is said to go around 60€.

    If you just consider to start reading e-books and have a new contract for some device on the way AND some provider offers a good deal…. yeah, this could be the right choice for you.

    But if you are serious about ebooks there are a lot of good choice in the 60-100€ pricerange to be considered instead.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder10 October, 2012

      I’m going to post a follow up which says all this, yes.

      Reply
  15. […] Grazie a @dragorinato fonte: – Updated: New txtr Beagle eReader to Cost Less than 10 Euros […]

    Reply
  16. Ken Nickerson10 October, 2012

    Uh… 5 Books only, pre-rendered via Android and no real-time store? Thanks, but i’ll keep my Kobo Mini – kobo.com/kobomini . most of my travel reads come after an in-flight/meeting recommendation and purchased on-demand. Like the price, but for a few Euros more, my time is worth the flexibility.

    Reply
  17. […] This week also heralded on what could be the cheapest ereader ever sold. The Txtr Beagle reader which is developed by a German company will be priced at around 10 to 20 Euros. It is a 5 inch screen but is restricted to Bluetooth only and has to be tethered to a Smart Phone app  although there are plans to release a PC one where you can download and buy ebooks and send them directly to the ereader.  However there is a catch as there is some restrictions such as the fact you can only have five books at time on the ereader. It will be interesting to see if this is a successful venture. […]

    Reply
  18. […] video… …?i filmule?ul de prezentareAici e pagina oficial? a txtr Beagle. ?i aici am g?sit câteva informa?ii suplimentare.În loc de concluzieA?a a? fi prezentat eu acest […]

    Reply
  19. […] ai 70 euro.Ma la medaglia d’oro dei pesi mini la vince senza dubbio questo prodotto della Txtr, presentato di recente alla Fiera del libro di Francoforte. Non tanto per le dimensioni (è poco […]

    Reply
  20. […] Super Cheap E-Readers, Are we at the point where we can just pick one up from a stack somewhere? s […]

    Reply
  21. […] last year when txtr unveiled their smartphone accessory, the beagle? It may have taken well over a year but that faux ereader with a 5″ E-ink screen […]

    Reply
  22. […] been well over a year since txtr first unveiled the beagle (and about 3 months since I proclaimed its death) and txtr has found a telecom willing to take it […]

    Reply
  23. […] been well over a year since txtr first unveiled the beagle (and about 3 months since I incorrectly proclaimed its death) and txtr has found a telecom willing […]

    Reply
  24. […] txtr unveiled the beagle gadget (it's not an ereader) last month my joy at seeing new the new hardware quickly turned to dismay as […]

    Reply
  25. […] device was launched in October 2012, but has only seen marginal market success. Txtr had originally planned to sell it via telecoms, […]

    Reply

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