iRex carving out own niche in e-reader market

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There are a lot of ebook reading devices out there, so it’s sad that only the Amazon Kindle makesĀ  headlines. I own a Sony Reader PRS-500, which I love and have recently revived after discovering Calibre, a program that lets me manage my ebook library from my Mac (something Sony’s software doesn’t allow, for whatever reason).

One ebook reading maker I have rarely talked about on this blog isĀ  iRex. When I saw this article from the New York Times this morning, I jumped at the chance to write a post about it.

The iRex family of e-readers sport several features, with more on the way (color e-ink anyone?). In this sense they have really pulled ahead of Amazon in terms of innovation. I guess the one feature iRex lacks that the Kindle does have is the wireless technology that lets you download ebooks from almost anywhere.

One part of the article that really stood out was how iRex is trying to appeal to the professional crowd:

IRex’s eReaders, are, for example, often being used as Electronic Flight Bags by private pilots. Brons also stressed that in there is a huge market for books for professionals, including manuals, guides, and similar texts.

The amount of natural resources saved (i.e. paper) by letting professionals store all their documents, manuals, books and everything else is astounding.

And on a related note, iRex lets you do something that not many other ebook devices out there let you do – take notes! We’re not talking about a clumsy little keyboard either. iRex features technology that allows you to write on your e-reader with a pen:

We think iRex’s top-of-the-line Digital Reader 1000 devices are especially interesting because they actually feature the ability to take notes directly on the screen (with a pen – no touchscreen yet, but the company is working on this). When we looked at the Kindle DX and its role in the textbook market, we noted that the absence of easy to use note-taking features made the Kindle less useful in a school setting than Amazon made it out to be.

Yes, this feature is only available for the top-of-the-line devices that iRex makes. But letting users jot down notes and annotate their reading material is a huge convenience for professionals, and even college students who might be using the device for textbooks.

Finally, the part the excites me the most about iRex is not mentioned in the article, but rather on the iRex website under the appropriate heading “Freedom of Content”:

The iLiad supports a variety of formats. This allows you to read a wide range of content, from your own digital office documents, to web content, from popular eBook titles to Newspapers and many more, without having to worry about format support or being locked into a DRM system.

Note that the iLiad is the basic e-reader offered by iRex. The support for a variety of formats is what really sets iRex apart from the likes of Amazon and even Sony (although Sony has gotten a little better in this field). I would trade freedom of content over wireless ebook purchasing and downloading any day.

I’ve never used an e-reading device offered by iRex, so I can only speak from what the article says and the iRex website. However, if you do have experience with any of their e-readers, please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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