A few hours after Plastic Logic launched the Que, a large format touchscreen ereader designed to display documents and periodicals in their original formatting, I got a no-touchee look at the Sprint Skiff Reader, a large format touchscreen ereader designed to display periodicals and documents in their original formatting.
The difference between the two? You can order the Que now. The Skiff won't be available until later this year.
Maybe that's a little flippant, but it's weird how similar the two devices are. Skiff has a slightly larger epaper screen - 11.5 inches vs. Que's 10.7-inch display. They both have a flexible screen - Skiff's is stainless steel, Que's is plastic - squashed inside a rigid bezel. Both are super thin, the Skiff around a quarter inch, Que less than a third of an inch. Skiff's emphasis is on magazines and newspapers rather than documents, Que's emphasis is vice versa. Both offer 3G cell network connection to an online store.
But Skiff isn't just hardware. In fact, the hardware Skiff Reader may be the least important thing about Skiff because Skiff is also a software format. Developed by magazine publishers, a Skiff app will be available for laptops, tablets and smartphones, which all have color screens, far more preferable for magazine reading. Sprint showed photos of a potential color epaper screen Skiff Reader, which may make more sense for magazines. The long lag time between now and when the Skiff Reader goes on sale may be a stall so Sprint can launch the device with a color screen.
No pricing was mentioned, but since Skiff will be sold by Sprint, it may carry a subsidy price. And both Skiff and Que could be obviated by whatever Apple announces in three weeks.