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Sharp Corp. said Tuesday it will enter the e-book market this year with a device that allows users to read e-book content it plans to distribute in cooperation with newspaper companies and other publishing firms.

The multifunctional device will allow users to access video and audio content in addition to text and still images, Sharp said.

Sony Corp. and NEC Corp. also plan to release e-book reader devices in the near future. With the entry of such electronics giants into the market, consumers will likely be able to see greater lineups of e-book products, as well as lower prices and improved functions, industry watchers say.

Sharp unveiled two prototype e-book readers, one with a 5.5-inch touch screen and the other with 10.8-inch screen.

The displays resemble Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet computer.

The Sharp device adopts its new XMDF e-book format that readily digitalizes books and enables users to read articles containing moving images.

Sharp aims to offer a wide variety of content ranging from regular books to newspaper articles.

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