The Sony's ebook, a device based on electronic ink technology, went through several revisions before its launch as the Sony Reader. First it was released in Japan with a white case, and a limited selection of DRM'd books that expired after some obscenely short amount of time. Then there was the delayed US launch.
Sony pulled Gizmodo into a little back room to play with the final hardware and we've made our decision: Shit ain't half bad for a greyscale, book replacement...it's like a gameboy...for the game of Reading. Here's what we know, what we think, and all our photos, after the jump.
The electronic ink technology is passive, looks good as paper, and only uses power when refreshing, so a single battery charge'll last 7,500 page turns.
The screen is 160 DPI, with a 6-inch display. But we were a little bit too busy admiring the resolution...and furrowing our brow at the ghosting you can see from some of the photos below. And page turns? Sluggish, but obviously fast enough for reading. (Well, for you guys...I'm a speed reader.)
It'll playback DRM'd books you can purchase through the Connect Bookstore (more on that later), with titles provided by all the major publishing houses. But it's easy enough to use simple text, RTF, PDF (unprotected)), JPGs, GIFs, MP3s, and AAC files. It'll even do RSS feed...including some Gawker titles, thank you very much!
Yes, it'll playback greyscale images, or music files from its Memory Stick, or SD card. (Yes, SD card) The greyscale images look all right.
MP3 playback is totally not recommended. Sure, you'd think it would be good for audio books, but I can't imagine what digital audio playback does for battery life on this guy. And once you're in book mode, it takes over 10 clicks to get to MP3 control menus to, say, switch a track or stop playing, and then go back to reading. Hmmmph.
It charges via USB (6 hours) or a PSP-type power adapter (4 hours).
There are a lot of buttons on this thing, including two sets of page up/down triggers. We liked the bookmark button, which also dog-ears the page.
Dedicated volume buttons? All right. Then there's the 10 digit menu pad on the bottom of the screen that correlates with the numbers on the right hand side of the screen. Those numbers are for going through menus, not entering page numbers to jump to. WTF?
You might ask yourself why there isn't a simple digital cross for all the controls. That's easy — every time you clicked up or down, it would count as a page refresh, and drain the Reader's juice.
The Connect Store looks..iTunes-ish. That's a good thing. Oh, and you can redownload your purchased books, which is sweet. Books should be cheaper than paperbacks, but that stuff is set by the publishers. Should be 10,000 titles or so, and all major pubs are playing ball to combat those evil libraries and second-hand book stores.