News: The Sony Reader
Feb. 6th, 2006 @ 07:04 pm
|How would you like to take 10 paperbacks with you on your beach vacation, but you don't want to carry a shoebox's worth of extra space? It sounds like a dream, but we've all heard the promise of eBooks, and the resulting technology was just an electronic version readable on your normal computer screen. Not exactly portable, unless you had a laptop, in which case it was impossible to read at the beach. The bright light made the screen too hard to read, plus who would dare risk their laptop at such a venue? And reading from the computer screen was too tiring to the eyes, anyway. The technology never seemed to live up to its promise. Well, if we believe their hype, "The digital book has come of age." It appears that the early forms of eBooks will be a distant memory when Sony unveils its new "Reader". I first heard about this product only today on Instapundit, but it has already captured my interest. The Sony Reader is smaller than a laptop, and it's readable in direct sunlight and at angles. This is all made possible, it seems, by a miraculous invention, e Ink. I hear it reads just like paper, except that it's electronic. I can't wait to see it.
“Well, if we believe [Sony's] hype, 'The digital book has come of age.'”
List of features:
Wired magazine's article on it says it went over well at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. It's scheduled to be available for $300-$400 this spring. According to Wired, Sony's plan for success with this product is based on integration with their online music sales store. A one-stop shop to get music AND books? Sign me up!
- Paper-like display
- Small and light
- Contains enough memory for at least 80 average-sized books
- ...available memory upgrades, plays music, displays graphics, and more!
I've seen and used this device, and everything in your description is accurate, but two things make it not usable as a book for me. The first is refresh rate: the page takes too much time to draw, meaning that it is annoying to flip back and forth between pages. The second is that you cannot hold it in one hand and turn pages; I do a lot of my reading as I eat and there's no comfortable way to do it with this device.
I use eBooks sometimes on my Treo (plenty portable, and readable anywhere I want to be reading an eBook, which is mostly on the subway if I've finished the book/paper/magazine I was reading). There's nothing about this device that makes it worth a few hundred dollars, and having to carry an extra electronic device around.
eInk is pretty cool, but the resolution and contrast need to improve before it can compete with printed paper. Sorry to be a curmudgeon but this is one area in which I think electronics have a looong way to go to beat the ease, convenience and price of analog.
Cool that you've tried all these devices, though! I can't wait until we have real animated, interactive, portable electronic newspapers and such. It's fun to think the future is now, so to say... but yes, there's always room for improvement!
You know, I have worked in online/digital media for more than 15 years, and I do love it. But I'm still dubious that newspapers and books will ever disappear entirely. Newspapers in particular may change significantly, but I just don't believe there are, or will be, electronic equivalents that make sense. I wrote about this a little while ago
, on cyberjournalist.net.
IBM has demonstrated prototypes of a foldable black-and-white screen, so the technology for a portable electronic newspaper is not terribly far away. But it will take a while for it to get good enough, and cheap enough. The resolution and browsing speed of a newspaper is damned hard to match electronically. I don't know that electronic newspapers will ever reach the price point, and easy disposability, of a newspaper.
And books? I hope and believe there will always be books. Perhaps I'm old fashioned but electronics just cannot match the feel. I geunuinely don't know if I'm closing my eyes to a trend that I don't like, or not. I remember presentations years ago from Adobe, when PDF was being introduced, in which they said that easy document portability was the true key to the "paperless office." Now you have PDF readers pre-installed on just about every machine, and people still print things out, including PDFs, with abandon.
I guess we'll see. We're living in interesting times.