By Harry McCracken | Friday, March 12, 2010 at 9:17 am
Plastic Logic, which was planning to ship its Que e-reader in April, has concluded that it needs more time to put the finishing touches on its creation. It says it’s postponing release until summer in order to “further fine-tune features and enhance the overall product experience.”
If the delay indeed ends up being a few months at most, it doesn’t seem like that huge a deal. If I were a prospective customer, I’d surely prefer to wait a few months for a rock-solid Que than get a buggy one right away. Besides, a little extra time doesn’t mean much given than the company started previewing the Que in September of 2008 (and in fact was talking about using its technology to make e-readers as far back as 2000).
The real question about the Que and all other e-readers that use monochrome E-Ink screens is whether they’ll survive the technological sea change that seems inevitable when Apple releases the iPad on April 3rd. Even setting aside the fact that the iPad is a multi-function device with a color screen, it’s likely to have a major impact on folks’ expectations for tablet-type gadgets: Judging from demos, it’s is blazingly fast. no E-Ink-equipped device is anywhere near zippy, and the Que felt especially sluggish when I tried a pre-release version at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. (The software was still a work in progress at that point, so the version that Plastic Logic releases may be quicker–and the delayed releases makes all the more sense if the company is tweaking it for better performance.)
Unlike most e-reader makers, Plastic Logic is a real technology company with its own innovative manufacturing process and factory. It’s also got a unique focus–it’s catering to business professionals–and the slickest user interface I’ve seen on any E-Ink device to date. It’ll be interesting to see how Que fares–even if we have to wait a bit longer to find out.