IREX, a spin-off company from Philips that's been selling e-readers in Europe for a while now, is introducing its DR800SG e-reader to North America. Although the black-and-white E Ink touchscreen makes the e-reader look a lot like the Kindle, it actually has some notable differences. First is the screen size, which measures 8.1 inches diagonal. Second, the controls constitute a stylus/touchscreen combo and a weird joystick-like control "bar" on the right side (you can use one or the other). Finally, the IREX renders newspapers with page layout intact, with readers able zoom in on articles for readability.
How do you get books on this thing? The IREX has an always-on 3G connection thanks to a partnership with Verizon (no subscription fees -- the network cost is supposedly part of the cost of a book). The company has also partnered with Barnes & Noble to be device's go-to e-book store, selling most new books at $9.99. You don't need a PC to use the IREX, but the syncing software is Windows only. The DR800SG will be available at Best Buy stores this October for $399.
Even more interesting was the promise of future advancements in e-reader tech. Besides a finger-friendly touchscreen next year (a tech already available in some competing e-readers), IREX promises a color e-reader by 2011. Yay!