Live From CES: The Sony Reader

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.


Who needs Blu-ray? This is the Sony reader that uses the display technology from E-Ink I've been hearing so much about. To give you an idea of just how good this display looks... I walked up to the counter, looked at the text on the screen and asked, "So when will you have working units to play with?" The reply: "This is a working reader." I mistakenly though the text on the screen was some kind of plastic overlay—that's how ink-like it looked. Then the PR rep increased the text size, searched through the table of contents and showed me some Manga comics. It is the first e-reader that seemed like I could sit down and spend hours on without experiencing eye strain. Part of the reason it works is that it does not have a backlight, so forget about reading in the dark. There is also zero flicker, as far as I could see. It's small and lightweight too (.5 inches thick and smaller than a hardcover book). The reader accepts both Memory Stick and SD flash memory cards. It's got a USB plug, and could be used to download and read websites, JPEGs or PDF docs. The battery life, as they are selling it, is equivalent to "7,500 page turns, avid readers can devour a dozen bestsellers plus War and Peace without ever having to recharge."

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The books will be available through the Connect Store, and there is some Connect software for managing your books (so far this is the only drawback). Random House, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin-Putnam, Simon & Schuster and Time Warner Book Group are all on board with titles, along with Manga publisher Tokyopop. Sony is promising to deliver this reader by Spring.

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This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

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DISCUSSION

generaldelta-old
generaldelta

I don't know what you guys are talking about! There is a reason why Sony is measuring in page turns. This is because the screen in not refreshed! There are no hertz, no refresh, no frames… Have you even seen one of these displays in action? They are not designed for movement capture; they are solely to show stills. There is no power used at all once the screen is set. Imagine the power it takes to run a wrist watch LCD, and then imagine that power is only used when changing the display. What uses the power on these units is the CPU that renders the text, and that's not that hard to do. In fact, I doubt this thing has an on and off button, because if you turned off it would still be showing the last screen of text. I bet the CPU auto turns on and off with input from the control, once the function is done the CPU is off again. You could be on one page of text for a year, and it wouldn't take any power once it was set. Farther more navigating the menus are not considered page turns because the unit only resets a small part of the display. Also as noted above, system navigation account for a VERY small part of system use. You speed most of the time reading, and only a little bit find what you want to read.

And who the heck can read 7500 pages in 20 hours!?!!?!? I think I could read 1000 pages of text in 20 hours, and that's fast. Most people can't read that quickly. So at 1000 pages per 20 hours you're talking about 150 hours to read 7500 pages of text. There is only 168 hours in a week! At most I only read 10 hours a day, and I sure the heck don't do that every day, and I don't read at peak speed all the time. So we are talking about charging the unit once a month or two at the most for a VERY active reader.

Things that will drain the battery would be listening to music, and more complex formats such as PDF. Viewing PDF will use a little more CPU time, so you'll see a loss, maybe 5000 page turns vs 7500 for TXT. Now music will eat up lots of power because the CPU has to run the whole time you are playing music. I'm guessing you might get 8 hours of music play, and that wouldn't be too shabby. But that is just my guess with the music, but I can't see you getting more than that. Once more once the battery is dead there will be no way to clear the screen, because it takes power to clear the e-ink display. Once a state is set it is set until a new state is set. That why it's call e- ink, because it works like ink.