The $13 txtr beagle eReader is Coming Soon, Will Cost the Same as the Kindle

The $13 txtr beagle eReader is Coming Soon, Will Cost the Same as the Kindle e-Reading Hardware When txtr announced the beagle last October they promised that this smartphone accessory/ ereader would be available at the super-low price of 10 euros.

Much media hay was made about that fact, but now that the beagle is about to hit the market it turns out that txtr's price for the beagle was a little optimistic.

I have just received an email from txtr that confirms the beagle will indeed be sold in the US in the near future:

We are making a limited number of beagles available in North America. We are making progress with operators as planned.  However, due to pressure from readers, the decision was taken to offer it to a small group of readers who want to buy it now. The price in the US will be $69, including a $10 voucher.

No, you didn't read it wrong. This device really will cost as much as the $69 Kindle. What's more, with a little work you can find a B&N Nook Touch for less than the retail price of the txtr beagle.

Uncontrollable laughter aside, the super-low price was never the real price of the beagle; it was the subsidized price. Users were going to be able to get it for 10 euros because txtr's customers (not the end user but the telecoms) were supposed to subsidize the price. I suppose that the beagle would have been used to entice smartphone users into renewing their contracts.

But now it seems that the telecoms aren't as interested in the beagle as txtr expected (I don't believe the middle 2 sentences), so instead this smartphone accessory is going to see at least a limited amount of retail distribution.

The $13 txtr beagle eReader is Coming Soon, Will Cost the Same as the Kindle e-Reading Hardware

I have to say that I am not surprised at the lack of interest; when this device launched I lamented the fact that it was deliberately hobbled by design. It is far less capable than your average ereader, and in fact it would be better thought of as a digital picture frame.

The beagle has a 5" E-ink screen, but instead of storing and displaying ebooks the beagle can only hold 5 folders full of page images, with one folder set aside for each title. The beagle can't process ebooks on its own, so it needs the txtr Android app to convert an ebook to page images and transfer the page images to the beagle over Bluetooth.

Guess what? That app requires Android 4.0, so anyone who doesn't have a relatively up to date smartphone or tablet will be out of luck.

With that restriction in mind, I'm not sure why very many people would want the beagle, and apparently many of the commenters on the beagle's first review (in The Guardian) agree with me. They especially didn't like the fact it was tied to a smartphone contract.

It's not clear yet when the beagle will ship, but I can tell you that this ereader did pass through the FCC about a month ago; that cleared the way for the beagle to be legally sold in the US.

Of course, now that it's not subsidized and we can see that the true price is far higher than txtr initially claimed, I have to say that I'm not sure that txtr will sell all that many beagles. Clearly the Kindle is a better value.

You can find the beagle listed for pre-order here.

 

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.

14 Comments

  1. Igor Borski8 March, 2013

    A reckless startup? I pity ones who financed the operation.

    Yet they could’ve done so much more with it.
    Remembering the discussion in beagle story, this is just ridiculous.
    Nothing prevents real time transfers. So it could be a stock ticker, newspaper, travel guide, bus schedule, whatever. Visible in the sunlight.
    Only if to add a $5 more processing power it could be a great second display to your phone (AMOLED outoors, oh yes).

    Reply
    1. fjtorres8 March, 2013

      3M can afford a fiasco or two, never fear.
      They picked txtr up for their library ebook push and that one is going okay, apparently.
      As a matter of fact, the beagle might work best as a library checkout reader: load it up at the library and not even Penguin would fret. Plenty of friction built into the process.

      Reply
  2. […] via The Digital Reader […]

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  3. Name (required)10 March, 2013

    Congratulations Nate.
    You have been Slashdotted.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder10 March, 2013

      Yep. It was self-inflicted.

      Reply
  4. Ed Nawotka10 March, 2013

    fjtorres is spot on. This is an potentially a viable library lending device should they be able to hit the $10 price point. That’s 3M’s priority, I would assume, over getting into the hands of consumers, as such. And the $69 appears to be “early adopter tax.” Pricing, as wel all know when it comes to anything dealing with digital is often temporary and fungible.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder10 March, 2013

      3M would be a good customer, but that does not mean that 3M was the originator for this design.

      I have been told by folks at txtr that txtr is independent (even though 3M owns a significant percentage). In fall 2011 txtr insisted they were working on their own projects and selling their white-label ebookstore platform to all comers. Obviously one of txtr’s projects is the beagle.

      And that $10 price point is frankly impossible without some kind of subsidy (from a telecom, retailer, etc). The E-ink screen alone costs more than twice that.

      But that doesn’t mean 3M can’t buy the beagle in large quantities, just tht it will cost more. It might even be possible for 3M to subsidize the beagle at that $10 price point when they sell the device to libraries, and I agree that this device would be a good fit. The beagle’s limitations would not be a serious handicap for libraries – not once it was integrated into the 3M Cloud Library.

      Reply
  5. Fbone11 March, 2013

    Does the txtr beagle conform to ADA requirements?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder11 March, 2013

      Good point. There’s no sound, so no the beagle does not meet ADA requirements.

      That means it can’t be sold to libraries. Good catch.

      Reply
  6. […] Via: the digital reader […]

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  7. […] Veröffentlichungstermin des Beagle hat txtr verstreichen lassen, nun tut sich aber etwas. In den USA ist der Beagle vorbestellbar- zum Preis von 69 US-Dollar (53 Euro) inklusive Buchgutschein im Wert von 10 US-Dollar. Ein txtr […]

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  8. […] von Lesern zugänglich, die ihn jetzt kaufen möchten”, bestätigte txtr jetzt gegenüber The Digital Reader. In Deutschland soll der Beagle laut Buchreport für 69 Euro in den Handel gelangen – und […]

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  9. […] new smartphone contracts. No one really liked that idea, so when the beagle finally hit the market it cost as much as the Kindle and did far […]

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  10. […] over a month ago I reported that this smartphone companion would be released in the US and in Germany. Retail was supposed to be $69 and 59 euros, much higher than txtr's original […]

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