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Sony eBook reader

Published in Gadgets, Technology  |  3 Comments

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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  1. Will says:

    November 1st, 2006 at 1:57 pm (#)

    Sony? Gouging? Unmount that MemoryStick and say it ain’t so!

    Sony? Knows better than you? Take that anti-ATRAC attitude out of here!

    I think your SDK desire is what it will take for an ebook reader to truly reach market acceptance. Its the hobbyist/engineer/tinkerer market that will be required to work out the bugs and idiosyncrasies of the product and make it ready for prime time. As a gadget, you might get some early adopter traffic, but as a product to be enthusiastic about, you need some early adApter traffic.

    I’m thinking here of TiVo vs. ReplayTV. Both new, paradigm changing products, but IIRC, TiVo was more tolerant of the hackers.

    Ebook readers have lots of potential, but I think it behooves the creators to put the products out there and see how people use, alter, and improve them.

    Back in the day, most would have thought of this as basic customer research.

    So, what would you change/add/delete?

  2. Andrew says:

    November 1st, 2006 at 2:21 pm (#)

    I definitely agree – appealing to the modders/hackers out there gets you press, free development, good ideas.

    In the end, I want to see “A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” (ala Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson) – learning, modifiable text devices

    Simple things I would change:
    * Add a jog dial, they are great for selection, page turning, etc.
    * Better button layout/design. Why a round button with just 2 positions, NorthEast & SouthWest?
    * Zoom ‘out’ one more level (higher resolution) to fit more text

  3. Kristy says:

    November 18th, 2006 at 10:02 pm (#)

    I have it. I bought it. The view is rotatable. You can read like a book or turn the device and read lengthwise. You can upload any PDF and you can upload any text after changing a WORD file into RTF format. (Rich Text Format). I have read several books on this device in the last month and love it. It’s far better on the eyes as you can change the font sizes. The grayscale screen is easy on my eyes too.

    I don’ t think this device is for anyone but an avid reader. It does have a MP3 player and you can store photo’s. Both features…add in’s to attract more people, but both features are features I overall have ignored.

    I can carry my college e-books (which printed out weigh about 15 lbs) and a novel and website content and blog content, etc. in my purse. The device weighs less than a makeup compact and you mentioend the add on accessories. Both are unnecessary as the device comes with a hardsided leather case and an AC plug. I don’t need a fancy plastic holder to hold the device upright. Useless. Also unnecessary to buy a cover when it comes with a much nicer one at no extra cost.

    The nice aside..I can buy ebooks for far cheaper on Connect than I can anywhere else. I can also buy books sooner on Connect than I can on amazon. It’s instant book shopping.

    I love the device and recommend it to anyone who is an avid reader and NO I do not work for Sony…..I just love to read and love having new choices for how I do so. Also love having more room on my nightstand these days. No pile of crap falling over when I hit the snooze button in the morning either.