Thursday, January 05, 2006


Sony Reader

I've long believed that e-books would never take off until there was some sort of standardized handheld reader, affordable and easily portable. Oh, and readable, too. A few years ago there were a few that hit the market (the Rocket Book is the one that springs to mind), but none seemed able to survive in the marketplace. File formats were proprietary, screens could only be seen in dim-light and from certain angles, et cetera, et al. Until a handheld device is able to replicate the experience of holding a book in one's hands, it's always going to be easier to just hold a book.

Well, Sony has announced a new product that might just be that hypothetical handheld, the Sony Reader. Full specs and features are here, but the site doesn't seem to list any pricing information, so the Reader may fall at the final hurdle. I'm impressed with the size and weight, though, and I'd love to see their "electronic paper" up close and in person. It looks like they'll be using some sort of proprietary e-book format, but it'll also be able to handle PDFs, JPGs, and RSS feeds (as well as "personal documents," which one would hope should include Microsoft Word, or at least RTF files), so pretty much anything should work.

I'm interested to see how this plays out. I'm rarely an early adopter, so this would have to make some significant headway in the market before I'd be in a position to pick one up, but having a hand-held electronic reader as robust as this looks like it might be would be one step closer to living in the future of Star Trek (can I call mine a PADD? Please?), which I'm all for.

I heard it's $400. Which is a lot of money for something on which to read books that people don't seem to buy anymore anyway....then again, I'm cynical, in case you didn't know that already.
Cynical? You?! Never!

Four bills is pretty pricey, though. Yikes. It better julienne fries and wash my windows for me to spend that kind of money, if I can just pick up a paperback for a fraction of the cost.
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