Tuesday, January 17, 2006

eBook Reader

A while back I was bemoaning the fact that none of the eBook readers currently on the market are really viable options. They are too large, too heavy, too hard to read, too hard to hold, and just in general don't give the same experience as reading a book.

That may change very soon.

Sony will soon be introducing an eBook reader called (appropriately enough) the Sony Reader. You can find the details at http://products.sel.sony.com/pa/PRS/reader_features.html. What's impressive about this reader is the technology in the screen. There is literally no flicker because the screen is only written to once for each page. Black and white "beads" in the screen change state and require no current to keep them in that state. The result is that it literally prints a page for you on the screen. I read one report of a guy who picked up an early model and asked the demo technician when a working model would be out. The tech said, "That is a working model." The screen was apparently so paper-like, the guy thought that it was a mock-up.

The size is about right (6.9” by 4.9” by .5”), and I can't imagine it gets very hot since the screen is not actively redrawing. It only weighs about 9 ounces, which is very close to paperback weight as well. It can hold 80 books internally, but has a memory card slot that will hold more. Best of all, Sony has gotten rid of their elaborate copy protection scheme. The reader will view eBooks, HTML, PDF, and a few other formats as well. This may be it folks. I would very much like to carry my library around with me. This reader may actually make that possible...

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