Sony eBook reader

Sony eBook readerI got to see the new Sony ebook reader at Borders. It's very nice - really readable, and a lot thinner than I expected. The pages actually look like real book pages. No aliasing, easy on the eyes. And even the background color of the screen looks like the medium-gray of a paperback book.

However, I don't think it will take off in the general public. For one, when you flip a page the wait is "long", 2-3 seconds, which is long for the average person when compared to flipping the page of a book, and more importantly the screen flashes black/white 2 or 3 times each page flip. I think early adopters like us may overlook that, most users will not.

Not to mention the price gouging on accessories. The Device itself is $350, then you have to pay $50 for the dock and $30 for a case - bringing it up to a possible $430 off the bat for the reader and cover.

The screen isn't touch sensitive, which is a little annoying, but not a deal breaker. I'd really like to be able to highlight and mark actual text. I used to do this on an iPaq with the Microsoft reader, which was also very crisp, and legible for reading books. Afterwards I could export a text file of all the passages I had highlighted. But size, cost, usability perhaps wasn't there for this first version of the eBook reader to have touch screen. You can mark a page, which makes a little 'dog ear' icon in the top-right corner of the page and then go back to view your marked pages from the book's table of contents.

The buttons are a little weird, there are 2 sets of "page" buttons. And the menu button is odd, diagonal push below a directional joystick. The joystick doesn't seem to serve that much purpose as most navigation is just up/down. There is also a row of number buttons below the screen, from 1 to 0 (yeah it's "computery" as they did 1-9, then 0. Why not just make it 10?).

Also, the view should be rotatable, but again, not a huge deal.

You can upload images, which are viewable in a grayscale, kind of pixelated/newspapery look. None of the demo books of text had embedded images, so I wonder how that works out. I've seen demo videos that show reading a page of text and having an embedded video (hrm, YouTube on your portable ebook reader)

What I'd *really* like to see, from a geek perspective, is an SDK for developing my own text/software so I can, say, make a dynamic map ;)

I like it, I may consider getting one, but will probably wait for v2.

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Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.