i am totally digging my newest techno gadget: the sony reader. it’s an e-book reader. i picked one up because i wanted to see if sony’s promises about a huge leap forward in e-book technology was true at all. e-books have held a small slice of the book buying market for a few years, but the readers have had all kinds of limitations that have all been loosely categorized under the heading: the reading experience is just too different than a paper book.
they call the screen ‘e-paper’. it’s a bit gimmicky, i suppose. but the technology actually is different than other screens — so i guess they have the right to call it what they want. and — here’s the big deal — it actually does look like paper. i’m about 275 pages into “the secret life of houdini” right now, and i have, multiple times, forgotten i wasn’t reading an actual paper book, and have reached up to turn the page. there are quite a few extra nifties, of course, like: between the resident memory and the memory stick i have in it, i can hold something like 700 or 800 full length books. i can bookmark as many pages as i want (it’s like folding a page down – you can’t actually highlight text or enter text in any way). i can zoom in if the text is too small for the lighting available to me (the screen isn’t backlit). it also holds photos (it’s a black-and-white screen, but with impressive resolution), and audio files (there’s a headphone jack, but no speakers). the reader costs about $350, but the books are about 35% of retail. oh, and the reader comes with some software for your computer — called ‘sony connect’ — that’s very much like iTunes for books. it’s an online store for downloadable books, and also an organizer.
it’s perfect for reading on a plane, or for a longer trip when i would normally pack three or four books. everything’s not available in this format — but i expect to keep enough books downloaded to it that i always have a few back-up books with me.