The Sony Reader

There have been attempts to create an electronic book before. But hitherto lack of customer acceptance has stymied the idea. Complaints about everything from eye strain caused by the screens to lack of content have deferred the era in which one could literally carry an entire library in one’s tote bag.

Sony thinks it has found a solution to the problem. Shortly it will try to sell the public on the concept of an electronic book when it rolls out the Sony Reader. Sony hopes that this product will be to text files as the Ipod is for music.

The main feature of the Sony is what the company calls an electronic paper screen. Unlike previous electronic books, which used some variation of a computer screen, the Sony Reader’s screen is supposed to look like a paper page of a book. It is advertised as being as easy to read outdoors as it is inside. The screen can be viewed from any angle. Those with vision problems will be able to enlarge text up to 200%. Simple controls allow one to “turn” the page easily.

The screen uses a technology called “e-ink”, which is a series of tiny capsules that can appear black or white according to the content being displayed. The technology not only allows for easy viewing, but requires no power to display.

The Sony Reader, at 6.9 by 4.9 by .5 inches will be slightly smaller than a paperback book and will weight about nine ounces. It comes with a rechargeable battery good for 7500 page turns. The battery can be recharged in about four hours on an AC adapter, sort of like a cell phone battery.

The Sony Reader will have the capacity to store eighty averaged sized books. Storage media such as a memory stock or an SD card will give the owner to hundreds more titles.

Sony will set up an electronic book store, called Connect, with book titles that can be downloaded, first to the PC, then to the Sony Reader. Using conversion software, the Sony Reader will also be able to store and display other file formats, such as PDF files, online newspapers, and other documents. As a bonus, it will even play mpegs.

The sticking point with the Sony Reader, as with other attempts at marketing an electronic book, will be content. Will Ebook providers be persuaded to provide content in Sony’s format? How much content will eventually be available will determine the ultimate success of this product.

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