If you've been pining away for txtr's much-anticipated $13 eReader, announced last fall, be prepared to fork over another $57. The Berlin, Germany-based txtr has revealed it will sell Beagle in the U.S., but at a price of $69.99, making it the same price as a basic Kindle and even more expensive than the same-sized Kobo Mini.
Though the company initially planned to offer its eReader through mobile providers, the Beagle is available for pre-order now from Vancouver, Canada-based ReaderLink Digital. Txtr thought it could achieve a $13 cost, because carriers would subsidize it and sell it along with a mobile phone or tablet that could handle the heavy lifting of storage and processing power. You'd have the txtr app stored on your device and use that to interface with the Beagle. That's still the idea—except now, there's no hardware subsidy.
Sadly, the Beagle's specs are not that competitive—especially for the price. It has just a 5-inch, 800 x 600 pixel display, and can store just five books at a time internally (unlimited book storage in the cloud). It does use removable AAA batteries, unique among e-readers.
By comparison, the Kobo Mini also has a five-inch display, and it sells for $59.99. However, the Kobo Mini has a touchscreen, built-in Wi-Fi, and can store up to 1,000 books internally. Another $10 more buys you a basic Amazon Kindle, with a six-inch display (but no touchscreen). Hunt around and you might for not much more find a Barnes & Noble Nook SimpleTouch.
When txtr announced its partnership with ReaderLink in January, the company called the partnership a “solution for non-trade and independent booksellers” and talked of offering a channel to sell books as well as to “make available to retailers an affordable dedicated eReader or tablet that they can offer their customers.” Sadly, at this price, however, it's hard to see how the Beagle will be able to compete with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others' established offerings.