Siidbj990We’ve seen other devices sporting this Sony Vaio UX look before, but SII (Seiko Instruments Inc.) and Franklin’s new DB-J990 super dictionary is the hands-down winner in the copycat contest.

I’m actually in the midst of growing a soft spot for these hybrid e-dictionary/PDA/PMP gadgets, mostly because I just bought the iriver D26, so I’m becoming moderately interested in how manufacturers try to further the devices’ appeal (beyond knocking off designs, of course). I don’t think wide interest will ever be generated outside of Asia, but the DB-J990 could potentially find a new audience in avid readers of e-books. A lot of convergence gadgets offer e-book (usually just .txt files) viewing, but not to this extent: the DB-J900’s built-in Mobipocket reader supports highlight, bookmark, comment, and jump functions. There’s also something (in Japanese) about downloading from an e-bookstore, but I can’t tell for sure whether a PC is required. I assume it is, as there’s no mention of integrated wi-fi, but I see the words "network electronic dictionary" a couple of times. A CD-ROM containing 50 classic literature titles is included with the device, so that could very well be what the "downloading" refers to.

The DB-J990 is also equipped with a 480 x 320 high-contrast display, calculator, games, SD/MMC card slot (up to 2GB), and what appears to be 50MB of user-accessible memory. A couple of sites are reporting MP3 support, and while that’s quickly becoming a standard feature on e-dictionaries, there’s no mention of it in the press release. In any case, the DB-J990 should be available in Japan next month for about $300. SII is hoping to sell 1,000 units per month; I don’t know enough about e-dictionary sales to put that number into any kind of context, but it sounds like a reasonable goal to me.

[Press release via SlashGear]