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updated 10:55 PM BST, Apr 23, 2015
Technology and life sciences news from the Cambridge cluster

Plastic Logic releases first product, an e-reader for schools

A girl student holding the PL100 and a rucksackEleven years and $900m since spinning out of Cambridge University, Plastic Logic has made its first product release.

The Plastic Logic 100 is an e-reader tablet (they call it an electronic textbook) targeting the education market and is only being made available to select schools in Russia for children in grades 6 and 7 (ages 12 to 14) at a price of 12,000 roubles (£250).

Volume figures are not being released, but the orders for the device will be in addition to the 1,000 devices the CEO of Plastic Logic's largest investor, Anatoly Chubais of Rusnano, recently told Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, would be trialled across schools this year.

Plastic Logic does intend to release the device commercially on a wider global scale, still targeting education, but it won't say which territories it initially intends to go for.

The Plastic Logic 100 (PL 100) is an extension of the QUE ProReader concept, a device pitched to the enterprise market, but which was ultimately cancelled. It  weighs less than half a kilogramme, has 4GB internal memory, uses an 800MHz CPU, has USB connection and a 150ppi ten inch screen.

Plastic Logic say the PL 100 has been refined with the needs of education in mind and incorporates a more advanced PlasticPaper display technology, which makes it significantly faster, provides a longer battery life (it only needs to be charged once a week) and carries an enhanced user interface designed specifically for use in schools as an electronic textbook.

The use of the PlasticPaper technology means it carries no glass, making it lightweight and 'shatterproof', though they'd do well not to have this emblazoned on the device like the Helix rulers of the 1980s, which essentially served as a self-destruct button.

As well as touchscreen control, the PL 100 allows students to underline and annotate text as well as bookmark and search. Students won't be able to change, damage or delete their textbooks.

Plastic Logic's newly appointed CEO, Indro Mukerjee, officially revealed the e-reader at an event at the Moscow Planetarium during a visit by British Trade Minister Lord Green, which was organised by Rusnano and UKTI.

He said: "The future of education is here today. We are proud to be part of the electronic textbook program and have received positive feedback from many school regions. We look forward to working with Russian educators and selected schools regions in this innovative education program."

For the education program, the Plastic Logic 100 electronic textbook will come equipped with more than 40 books covering the subject matter taught in grades 6 and 7, as agreed upon with education regions to meet their learning processes.

Plastic Logic 100 Specifications:

Display Technology: Plastic Logic PlasticPaper™
Display finish: Shatterproof polymer, anti-glare, anti-fingerprint, hard coat
Display size: 10.7" (27cm) diagonal
Display Resolution: 1280 x 960 at 150ppi
Color and Finish: Front: Charcoal Grey with matte finish; Back: Black with soft touch finish for easy grip
External dimensions: 216 x 280 x 7.65mm
Weight: 475g
Interface: Full screen capacitive touch
CPU: 800MHz
Storage: 4GB internal
Battery Life: Over a week of average student reading
Connectivity: Micro-USB
Operating System: WinCE
Applications (on device): Home and Content Organizer, Reading and Annotating, Search, Cross document navigation