Newspaper Group Creates E-Paper Kindle Rival, Largest Yet

Dennis Faas's picture

A major publisher is to launch the largest electronic reading device on the market. Hearst's touchscreen "Skiff Reader" is 11.5 inches in diameter and uses a unique flexible design.

The firm, founded by legendary media figure William Randolph Hearst, owns more than 50 newspapers outright and has interests in more than 100 other titles. With that in mind, it's clear the hardware specifications of the Skiff are very much targeted at newspaper and magazine readers.

CES Show-off Planned for Skiff Reader

The firm will show off the device at the forthcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It's already revealed that the Skiff will have a resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels, weigh just under a pound and feature a quarter-inch thickness. Both the screen size and the resolution are larger than the DX, the largest device in Amazon's Kindle range. (Source:

While the screen won't be large enough to display full newspaper pages at a life-size scale, screenshots suggest the text will be legible even when the entire page is displayed, meaning users will get the effect of the original page layouts. Of course, they'll then be able to zoom in to read a story in larger print.

Flexible Display Could Help Commuters

By far the most notable feature of the device is that it uses a flexible E-ink display which doesn't involve any glass, instead being based around stainless steel foil. Although it can't be rolled up for storage (as is the case with some gadgets in development), the flexibility means the device can "go with the flow" if it takes a knock while in use.

That could be a valuable quality if it proves popular among commuters on crowded trains and buses.

It's clear the device will live or die by its reading features; as with the Kindle, the screen is monochrome, meaning there's little prospect of it doubling as a video player.

Pricing Structure Unknown

The pricing of both the reader and content isn't yet available. Hearst has completed a deal with Sprint to provide 3G connections for getting content on the move, though it will also work through WiFi networks. Content will be purchased through a dedicated Skiff store operated by Hearst.

The device will be on sale in more than 1,000 locations, though Hearst hasn't yet announced details of which chains this will involve. It's possible some publishers will set-up deals to offer the device at a lower price for buyers who take out a subscription to the digital edition of a newspaper or magazine. (Source:

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