Sunday, June 10, 2007

Review: Sony Reader ebook

Reading is one of life's most impressive pleasures. I love the smell of a brand new hardcover (a.k.a. the 'new book' smell) as I open it on a lazy summer afternoon. Reading on a computer is obviously possible, but has never 'felt' the same as reading from a real book. Scrolling makes me crazy, and you just can't get comfortable. The other issues are flicker, and general eye strain. And I can't see a thing when reading a screen in sunlight. So when I got a glimpse of the new Sony Reader, I my best 'I majored in Lit' snob attitude...ha! this is just not the real deal.

But, I may have spoken too soon. This device is a little smaller than the average hardcover, and light, about 9 ounces. Easier to fit into an average sized purse than a hardcover. Flicker? Nope. Able to be read by my quickly aging eyes? No problem, just increase the text size. Scrolling? Not that either, since it shows a page at a time, and you click a forward button to change to the next page. The reader accepts both Memory Stick and SD flash memory cards, so it will also play your photos. And there's a USB plug, so it could be used to download and read websites, JPEGs or PDF docs. And you can share your ebooks with several of your electonically equivalent friends. Ah, but battery life...that's always a concern with electronics said I. Not so. The battery life, as they are selling it, is equivalent to "7,500 page turns" between charges. Even with my love of reading, that's darned impressive. I wanted to hate it. Really I did. But...

Wow. That's it. All I have left to say is 'wow'. And if anyone is looking to buy me the perfect gift, I hope they read this review. And have about $349.99. I'm worth it.

Wikipedia on the Reader:

The Sony PRS-500 Reader is an ebook reader for the U.S. market. It uses an electronic paper display developed by E Ink Corporation, that has 166 dpi resolution, four levels of grayscale, is viewable in direct sunlight, requires no power to maintain the image, and is usable in portrait or landscape orientation. The $349.99 reader uses an iTunes Store-like interface to purchase books from Sony's Connect eBook store. It also can display Adobe PDFs, personal documents, blogs, RSS newsfeeds, JPEGs, and Sony's proprietary BBeB ("BroadBand eBook") format.
The digital rights management rules of the Reader allow any purchased eBook to be read on up to six devices (at least one of those 6 must be a PC). Although you cannot share purchased eBooks on other people’s devices and accounts, you will have the opportunity to register five Readers to your account and share your books accordingly. At this time Sony has no plans to introduce time-expiring books in the U.S.