With the launch of its new e-reader in South Korea Monday, Samsung joins an increasingly crowded market, but the entry-level SNE-50K device is no match for the mighty Amazon Kindle.
The long-anticipated SNE-50K is woefully lacking in features, according to details in The Korea Herald.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is that the Samsung SNE-50K does not support wireless connectivity, as does the Kindle.
Samsung's SNE-50K also offers just 512MB of storage, which means that it can only hold about 400 titles, according to testers at the Japanese Web site Akihabaranews. On the other hand, the Kindle DX has 4GB of storage, and lets readers store 3,500 books, periodicals and documents.
Another huge drawback is the SNE-50K's book library. Samsung has teamed up with Kyobo Bookstore, Korea's largest bookseller, but readers can only access 2,500 book titles, mainly best-sellers, with 1,000 new titles added every month, according to the newspaper. Samsung is said to be in active talks with a number of publishers and other content providers to expand its library. That's certainly no comparison to Kindle's library of 300,000 available titles.
Another issue: Samsung's SNE-50K is likely to make readers squint. While both devices have 600 x 800 pixel resolution, the SNE-50K's screen is only 5 inches compared to the Kindle DX's 9.7-inch screen.
One feature Samsung's SNE-50K has that Kindle doesn't is that the device can be used as a notepad and has handwriting recognition, the paper said.
The SNE-50K retails for 339,000 won (U.S. $274), where as Kindle DX goes for $489, and the smaller Kindle 2 retails for $299.
Despite these drawbacks, Samsung is not likely to sit back and remain satisfied with its current product. Given its competitive edge in the electronics market---after all it is the second-biggest maker of mobile phones in the world---this initial entry into the e-book market is just the beginning of its ambitious plans.
"We seek to become a bigger player than Amazon or Sony in the e-book market," Lew Jae-young, vice president of Samsung Electronics, told the Herald."