Creative: cooking up an e-reader?


(Two new e-reader entries: left, Spring Design’s Alex; right, B&N’s Nook.)

Creative Labs, maker of the Zen MP3 player, PC speakers and other hardware, surprised investors by showing off a prototype of a touchscreen e-reader during a recent annual meeting — and by trash-talking the Kindle.

If reports are true as described by blog [EpiZENter](, the device is being called the MediaBook for now and features a touchscreen, text-to-speech, SD memory card slot and will offer Internet access. It will be powered on the company’s Zii processor.

Though spokesmen for Creative had not returned calls by press time, CEO Sim Wong Hoo wrote in the introduction of the company’s most recent earnings filings that new Zii products “can possibly include mobile phones, TV set-top boxes, video conferencing systems, digital signs, netbooks, eBooks and other mobile communication devices.”

The MediaBook would join a fleet of fledgling wireless reading devices, including Barnes & Noble’s [Nook](/mobility/article.php/3844846/Barnes++Noble+Debuts+AndroidBased+EReader.htm), Sony’s [Daily Edition](/ec-news/article.php/3836106/Sony+Unveils+3G+EBook+Reader+Library+TieIn.htm), the [iRex ](/mobility/article.php/3840661/New+EReader+Set+to+Rock+Digital+Book+Market.htm)by iRex Technologies, [Que](/hardware/article.php/3844526/First+Plastic+Logic+eReader+Means+Business.htm) by Plastic Logic and [Spring Design’s Alex,](/ec-news/article.php/3844411) all chasing after Amazon’s front-runner, the Kindle.

However, William Png, Creative’s chief of strategic business, believes the MediaBook will stand out from the crowd. He reportedly described the Kindle as “just another electronic device that displays books in text,” while the Creative device would appear to be almost an e-reader-multimedia-tablet hybrid that “will harness videos, pictures, text and services in one device that supports a media-rich experience.”

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