The Guardian has a review of the oddly named Txtr beagle e-reader. See if you can spot the minor snag.

the Berlin-based firm behind it, announced plans to sell the device for just £8 (yes, really) – that’s £61 less than the current entry-level Kindle.

Not sure how they’ll manage that price-point, but OK. This could potentially open ebooks up to loads of people.

Its plastic moulded body feels surprisingly solid in the hand.

So it doesn’t feel awful, despite being really cheap. Sounds good.

The screen is a 5in eight-level greyscale E-Ink display with a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. That compares with the entry-level Kindle’s 6in 16-level greyscale E-Ink display [with a higher PPI than the Kindle]

This really is sounding too good to be true. Man, I hope this idea doesn’t somehow slam headlong into a wall.

[It’s] more than 20% lighter than the Kindle.

Cheaper. Brighter. Sharper. Blimey.

The beagle offers 4GB of internal sold-state storage.

Like the Kindle!

The Kindle beats the beagle because although both support digital book formats (ePub for the beagle, AZW for the Kindle) and PDF documents, the beagle stores and displays ebooks and PDFs as highly rendered bitmaps – it’s essentially a bitmap viewer.

Like the— Hang on. What?

 the beagle stores and displays ebooks and PDFs as highly rendered bitmaps

I. Um. OK.

Unlike the Kindle […] the beagle doesn’t have a built-in battery. Instead it is powered by two AAA batteries housed along the rear of the device.


The beagle eschews many of the features the Kindle has, such as Wi-Fi and optional 3G, or a wired connection of any kind. But the lack of connectivity options are why txtr costs so little.

No connectivity. So… how do you get books on to the thing? Magic beans? Psychic powers?

every beagle requires the user to have a smartphone, whether an iPhone, Android, or Windows 8 phone. The beagle’s only connection to the outside world (or other devices) is via Bluetooth. Book management, transfer, and even setting the font size is done through the free txtr app on your smartphone. According to the company, this leaves the beagle to do what it does best: displaying words for you to read.


So, someone’s created a device that’s cheap, light and has a great screen, which could be hugely disruptive, but in order to use this cheap, light device, you need to already own an altogether hugely more expensive device. And not only do you need said device to fire over books (in bitmap form, meaning you can’t fit nearly as many on the device as you could if it accepted text documents), but you even need it to change the font size. This is mental.

Still, at least there’s not another catch, right?

The txtr beagle can be offered at such a low price because its cost will be subsidised by mobile carriers. The beagle itself won’t be sold individually; you’ll only be able to get one is by purchasing it when you sign up for a mobile phone contract on specific carriers.