Several years ago it was announced that a Phillips subsidiary would release a device called the Readius. Nearly three years on and a prototype was unveiled a few weeks ago from Polymer Vision. It looks rather fascinating; Engadget is even calling it "the stuff". Coming an array of wireless options (EDGE, Bluetooth, SMs etc) and a folding, flexible e-ink display (reminiscent of these kind of projects) it marks a break with the standard, fixed structure of electronic reading devices. According to Windows for Devices it should be capable of running Windows and Linux, will support DRM and will connect to PCs via a USB port. The screen will be "twice the surface area of the largest conventional mobile phone display". As for formats the MobileRead forum suggests that it will work with "pdf + HTML + ASCII". There are, inevitably, limitations: it doesn't connect to the internet, it doesn't support ADE books and pricing will be comparable to a "high end smartphone".
Initially on release in Italy through Telecom Italia there is no news as yet on a UK or worldwide launch, at least that I can find. While new devices are generally to be welcomed, especially innovative designs such as the Readius, one gets the sense that the tower of eBabel and the imperatives of convergence instigated by, amongst others, the iPhone and a more general consumer weariness with multiple expensive gadgets, will hamper the Readius. If we get our hands on one then more to follow.
In the meantime here is a demo.