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Sony Handhelds Hardware Technology

Sony Reader Taking Hold? 357

An anonymous reader writes "Sony recently launched their latest attempt at an electronic book reader. The 'Sony Reader' is small and lightweight, about the size of a paperback book, and using E-Ink technology it only requires battery power when changing the page so light on power requirements. While it isn't their first attempt at an electronic book reader, critics are already predicting the Reader's success."
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Sony Reader Taking Hold?

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  • Success??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpookyFish ( 195418 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:24AM (#14434020)
    But what is the DRM, and how will it rootkit me?
    • Re:Success??? (Score:3, Insightful)

      I believe it will read pdfs so DRM is as much of a problem as you want it to be. I've seen horror stories in general about trying to transfer ebooks between PDAs so personally I'll limit myself to store that'll let me download plain txt (which I can convert to PDF to suit my personal preference with OO) or native PDF. Alternatively I may take the semi-moral choice of simply downloading via P2P scanned versions of books I already own.
      • Re:Success??? (Score:3, Informative)

        by scdeimos ( 632778 )
        From Sony's speel [] [Shockingwave required]:

        More than books
        Books are just the beginning for the Sony Reader. It also displays Adobe PDFs, personal documents, blogs, newsfeeds, and JPEGs with the same amazing readability, so you can take your favorite blogs and online newspapers with you. It even plays audio files.

        Obviously they've learned a few lessons from their DRM-up-the-wazoo on the Librie, but I am curious how they take the "blockies" out of JPEG's when zooming in to 200%.

        • Re:Success??? (Score:5, Informative)

          by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:22AM (#14434397)
          Argh, I just noticed the *note* on that section:
          7 These formats require file conversion to BBeB using supplied software.
          At least they supply the necessary software.
          • Re:Success??? (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            7 These formats require file conversion to BBeB using supplied software.

            At least they supply the necessary software.

            IOW, they haven't learned anything from the debacle that was their MiniDisc player, their ATRAC(?) portable music player, etc.

            Forcing people to copy from standard popular well-supported formats to your flavor-du-jour is a losing proposition.

            Unless... you create a program like iTunes that is easy to use.

            My bet is that the software will suck.
          • Re:Success??? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Nogami_Saeko ( 466595 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:22AM (#14434978)
            Sigh... I was actually considering buying this until you found the "catch". I don't want my files converted to their proprietary (likely DRM'ed) format. I want it to support PDF, RTF, TXT, HTML and the like natively.

            For example: Device shows up as a USB drive when plugged into a computer, drag and drop your documents onto it, let the device convert/display them on the fly for me. No special software necessary.

            Now it's possible (and I stress the "possible") that they're doing the conversion upfront on the host machine to save processing power and to make the battery life longer on the reader unit. But they should at least give the user the choice... Either do the conversion up-front, or support the file types internally with the understanding that the unit will have less battery life and may take longer to display pages.

            I'll reserve judgement until reviews of their conversion software come in, but if that software tries to sneak any sort of DRM onto MY files, or prevents files loaded onto the unit from being transferred back to a PC it's connected to, they can kiss a sale goodbye.

    • by thej1nx ( 763573 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:56AM (#14434137)
      But what is the DRM, and how will it rootkit me?

      Ah, thanks for buying our product and it is good of you to ask that question. Since we could not find a satisfactory and adequate way of protecting our copyrights, we have now introduced DMCA 2.0(Damn, My Corneas! Arrrggh!!!)

      First our qualified, expert ex-mafia representatives will drop by to gouge out your eyesballs. Rest assured that this will be a painless, troublefree process. They will knock you out with a big mallet first. The ebooks text will be all be encrypted in Navajo code(already patented by us). A special navajo talker will be provided to you to decrypt and narrate the text to you. We will ofcourse be charging you an arm and a leg(and two eyesballs) for this valuable service. You have already agreed to all this in the EULA(it was the microscopic fine print).

      Have a nice day.

      Thanking you, Marketing/Mgmt team

      P.S. If you upgrade to our premium service we will also provide a trained free seeing eye dog(1 year supply of dog food also included)!

    • It'll read anything you like. Unless it starts with $sys$.
  • by montyzooooma ( 853414 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:29AM (#14434036)
    Having recently struggled through Johnathon Strange, The Cleric Quintet and half of the Thomas Covenant saga in massive hardback editions I am seriously looking forward to a convenient lightweight way to read these tomes.

    Unfortunately with most ebook sellers pricing themselves higher than equivalent paperbacks it's going to take more than this to really liven up the market. I favour SF&F so Baen ( [] ) are a welcome exception. They offer DRM-free downloads and subscriptions AND offer a load of books for free download.

    • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:49AM (#14434116) Journal
      Unfortunately with most ebook sellers pricing themselves higher than equivalent paperbacks

      For the majority of cases this isn't true. I buy from two stores, Ereader [] because I like their format and find their DRM non-intrusive nor limiting.

      The other store which will appeal to slashdotters is Fictionwise. [] Both stores sell books for a comparable price to Amazon. such as The Footprints of God [] which is cheaper at Ereader. [] Another example is Blindfold [] for $8 from Fictionwise or second hand at Amazon. [] I know which I'd prefer ;)

      Having said that, you won't save much money, if anything, buying e-books (I've found Australians will actually save some money though, because our prices are dearer, even once you take exchange rate into account). I still prefer the e-books because I'm running out of room in my house for dead tree books. I'm leaving the rest of the room to comic book collections and books not available electronically (although more and more books are being made available, such as Anne McCaffrey's books). []

      Having said that, inertia does appear to sometimes cause e-books to be priced dearer for a while longer then the paperbacks. An example is Robert J Sawyer's Hybrids [] which was kept at the hardcover price for a while after the paperback was released. But it has now finally come down in price. So if you're patient, you will get good prices for your e-books.
      • by Pete ( 2228 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:58AM (#14434336)
        For the majority of cases this isn't true. I buy from two stores, Ereader because I like their format and find their DRM non-intrusive nor limiting.

        Your ereader link is broken - try [] :).

        EReader is a pretty decent option for ebooks - mainly because the DRM isn't painful, but also because they have a not-too-pathetic range and the prices aren't too unreasonable. But the extra trick you need to keep in mind is to subscribe to their emailed newsletter (every week or so). This always includes a "10% off all purchases" code - so effectively anyone using them gets at least 10% off the listed price on any purchase. This may even be a sneaky back way around publisher "list price" demands. If so, I strongly approve. :)

        The downside, for me at least, is that (last I checked) the Windows version of their reader program doesn't work under Wine. Annoying, but I do most of my reading on my Palm, and it works fine on that.

        However, now I've said all that, I've found that Fictionwise [], as you mentioned, seems to offer a better range at a better price with more formats. I approve even more. Thanks for the tip.

      • by andreyw ( 798182 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:05AM (#14434353) Homepage
        Incorrect. DRM is _intrusive_ and limiting - even well-implemented DRM like that provided iTMS. Sure, it plays fine /now/. What happens in 10 years? I have books printed in the beginning of 1900s - and I can still prop-them-open and read, without needing some weird limiting technology to unlock the content. Same goes for tapes, CDs, LPs.

        Will I be able to read the ebook or listen to the music in 10 years? Likely no - which btw is perfectly fine with the content providers, who don't think you own anything anyhow and thus are glad to "lend" as many crippled copies as you like/need.

        Hence, it's real paper for me for books (or PDF/PS/DJvu) and AllOfMp3 for my music needs (can't find russian music elsewhere anyhow).
        • Incorrect. DRM is _intrusive_ and limiting

          I was careful to state it as a personal opinion on the ereader DRM.

          Will I be able to read the ebook or listen to the music in 10 years? Likely no

          I think it likely I will be able to, as long as I keep a record of the credit card number when it does change (once I do change it, it is safe to keep it in a text file wherever I store the e-books, although it is highly recommended you DON'T do that for your current CC number). Even if I have to get an emulator for the rea
          • Even at that, over a long enough period of time DRM is always intrusive and limiting. For example, once the copyright expires you ought to be able to do anything you want with the book, including making copies. However, your version will still be locked.

            Besides, since when was having to worry about a credit card number and emulation not intrusive?!
      • you won't save much money, if anything, buying e-books... inertia does appear to sometimes cause e-books to be priced dearer for a while longer then the paperbacks.

        And that is why I won't be buying - simply because they refusal of the publishing industry to share the savings of electronic publishing annoys me. I don't even care if the electronic books are a little more convenient, it's simple tit for tat. Electronic distribution should be eradicating information scarcity everywhere, instead they're ho

  • The critics need to factor in that in early sightings of the book store, Sony only seems to be stocking hardback priced ebooks. I don't know too many folks whom will only purchase hardback editions at first released hardback prices for their collections.

    I just want to remind everyone, before there was the RIAA, there were book publishers. And some of them make the RIAA look like Girl Scouts.
    • I just want to remind everyone, before there was the RIAA, there were book publishers. And some of them make the RIAA look like Girl Scouts.

      Some of them might, but that isn't having too much of an effect on E-book downloads (legal and otherwise). When was the last time someone was sued for downloading a book?
  • There's an obligatory joke whenever Sony is mentioned these days. Hmmm, let's see... Got it!

    It comes with the rootkit pre-installed!
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:31AM (#14434045)
    Shouldn't that be "taking root?"
    • I was all ready for the usual tiresome* slew of anti-Sony comments, but I have to admit you made me chuckle with this one. Nice and subtle.

      (* Yes, Sony is evil, I know, we all know, you'll never buy Sony stuff again, good for you, I don't intend to either. Can we stop talking about that now please?)
  • but when it comes down to it, redundant gadgets are.... well... redundant. my (impulsive) friend spent around 400$ on this kickass mp3 player about a year ago, he ended up buying a laptop a month later and he was like 'uh, this junk mp3 player is just going to end up another of my unused gadgets', so he gave it to me.. i left it at a different friends house, and it was pawned :/.. anyway my beaten around the bush point is this..... people would rather have a laptop for this kind of thing, generally, because
    • While your point may hold for mp3s, movies, etc. I'd have to say books are a different thing completely.

      I know lots has already been said about the matter, so I'll just keep it simple.

      Books are not the same as music or movies.

      I'm sure you've all had the experience where you've gone into a test and you can't remember something, but you can picture the exact page & paragraph that piece of information is in.

      When I read stuff on a monitor, it all tends to blur together.

      Oh, and you can hold a book a lot clos
    • I can make phone calls using my lap top (I have Verizon broadband cellular+Vonage+ethernet switch) but I don't.

      I can listen to XM radio on my laptop (with said broadband cellular) but I don't.

      I can take pictures with my laptop (with my webcam) but I don't.

      There are always advantages for using a device designed for a specific task over a device designed for many tasks. It's a tradeoff between lots of devices that do each task really well and one device that does many tasks not-so-well.

      People who read a LOT
  • Doomed to failure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xenkar ( 580240 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:32AM (#14434052)
    Paperback books are cheap. This ebook reader can't compete with real books so long as it will be priced $300 to $400. The only way eBook readers could become commonplace is if they give them away.
    • "The only way eBook readers could become commonplace is if they give them away"

      even then i wouldn't really prefer these eBook readers. nothing can beat the feeling of a book that you can hold in your hands, turn pages, etc.
      plus how are you supposed to use them as a conversation starter..."excuse me, you seem to be using the same eBook reader as me" yea, good luck.

    • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:14AM (#14434200) Journal
      The only way eBook readers could become commonplace is if they give them away.

      Not true. They do have to become more reasonably priced then $400 US, but you don't have to give them away to sell them. Many people have bought PDAs mainly to read e-books. They are convenient and easy to store (I can take 100 books in the amount of space needed for 1 book). Don't underestimate that factor alone. Besides which, there is a TON of content online (I don't like reading long stuff on the computer, but on the PDA, let alone this e-book reader, I don't mind at all) that is either free or not available in print.
      • Re:Doomed to failure (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:26AM (#14434242)
        I bought a $200 PDA mainly to read ebooks.

        I would not have paid anywhere near that if it could only read ebooks though. I also use it to play games and on occasion as an organizer.

        This book reader would have to be much cheaper than a PDA to be viable, and even then I can't see why someone wouldn't spend the extra for a PDA.

        Also, this Sony scam charges prices comparable to hardcover for the books. They should be about half to price of a paperback. Of course the DRM sony's including makes it a deal breaker for anyone who's not a total idiot.
    • $400 for a device that can't search an e-book? Forget it! Even my palm does that.
  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:33AM (#14434054) Journal
    They'd have me if it was possible to install other readers onto it (I don't want Sony to write the programs, just make it so other people CAN write the programs and the user can install them on the reader). Alternately I'd be more tempted if their format wasn't DRM'd (yup, non-DRM e-books do exist. One store that sells quite a bit from numerous prominent authors (such as Kevin J Andserson) is Fictionwise []).

    I'm a big time e-book reader and I'm migrating to an e-book only library (for new books anyway). If Sony has success, that's great. But I'm finding it doubtful that they will, because if someone like me isn't interested, what is their demographic?
    • If they're not DRMed convert them to pdf. (For example with print-to-pdf, that's possible on every platform)
    • I don't think DRM in this case is all that onerous. How is having a DRM ebook different than having an actual book on this point? If you bought a real book, you wouldn't be able to post it on the web, so why should this be any different?

      Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of DRM in principle. DRM for many things violates fair-use rights. I SHOULD be able to record TV shows however I want. I SHOULD be able to rip my CDs and DVDs to listen to/view them however I want.

      DRM is not even so bad as poorly c
  • you can get the previous sony e-ink device, on ebey or elsewhere, install an english firmware patch and make your own drm-free ebooks... HOWTO - Sony Librie English GUI Firmware Patch o _sony_libr.html [] HOW TO make DRM-free ebooks for the Sony Librie e-ink ebook reader o_make_drm_1.html [] if sony screws up this new reader, i'm sure we'll all hack these up to for the functionality needed.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:34AM (#14434060) Homepage Journal
    without DRM, but I'm assuming that their book store is going to impose less DRM than the one they launched in Japan. In that bookstore, you could only "buy" your book for 2 months, after that it became unreadable. That defeats the whole purpose of having an e-reader! If I'm laying down $400 for an e-reader, I want to be able to bust out "Breakfast of Champions" on a whim, not make sure that my license is up to date before doing so. One of the reasons I don't buy a lot of books right now is that I hate having to find storage places for them, plus I tend to move around a great bit and shipping books is expensive and a pain.
    I think a sanely priced bookstore would be a great idea, but till then I'm sticking with the library!
  • by Seraphim_72 ( 622457 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:35AM (#14434065)
    It will go on sale in the spring and is expected to sell for between $300 and $400 in the US.
    I take it then that all of the coke that could be purchased with that kind of cash has been already snorted at Sony Corp Headquarters. 3-400 for an e-reader??? A basic Palm is what, $99? What besides DRM does this do extra??


    • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:08AM (#14434180) Homepage
      What besides DRM does this do extra??

      It's the screen itself. I've seen and played with the previous reader here in Japan, and the screen really is amazing. As in "you have to see it before dissing it" amazing. It really is like reading on paper. The brighter the environment is the better it looks.

      On one hand, this reader is supposedly able to show any PDF or html and connect over USB like a mass-storage device, which is good (and the lack of which is what stopped me from buying the previous model). On the other hand, Philips is soon coming out with their version of a reader with a paper-like display, and I'd frankly rather buy from just about any company other than Sony nowadays. So I'll wait until I see what the Philips reader will be like, and unless they screw up with some DRM-only boneheaded move, that's what I'll get instead.
    • The dimensions are bigger (a LOT of people are put off by the small screen) and I believe it's battery life is much longer.

      I prefer my Palm though, but in the future I can see me trading it in for a non-Sony ebook reader.
    • I think a better proposal would be reading book on your mobile phone? The latest WM 2005 smartphones (HTC / QTek /etc) cost as much as the Sony reader, and have decent sized screens at a pretty good resolution for reading ordinary books on. I'm much happier now that I can cut everything down to one device - my phone can play movies (ala iPod video), MP3 (ok, no iTunes, but still..) and read books. Only one device to to keep track of, always with me and always charged.

      Screen not big enough? Definately n

    • Well that answers my big question. How the hell can this device be "taking hold" when it isn't even available for sale yet?
  • Maybe it'll root your... book. Har har Lame.

    Anyway, the good bits are that it lasts 7,500 pages per charge and weighs half a pound. The bad news is that it costs $300.

    The bottom line is that I love the idea of not burning a forest of trees... for College textbooks this is a great idea (lessens back pains and you could easily drop $300 in a single quarter!), not to mention point-and-click TOC and index, keyword search, etc. I'll have to see the screen first-hand, but I can't believe it would be better

  • Laptops work okay (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quokkapox ( 847798 ) <> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:37AM (#14434077)
    My laptop PC works fine as an ebook reader, and while reading an ebook I can listen to music or watch video and simultaneously download more content. While I would like something more compact and power-conscious, I'm happy with what I've got. But I will avoid buying anything made by SONY. I don't even go to SONY movies anymore, and I dissuade my friends and family from doing so.

    Hey SONY, your 2005 DRM fiasco has cost you more than you realize.

    • Are you a commuter? If you are, then you would probably realize the value of having a device that is less cumbersome to use than even the smallest laptop(and the battery lasts a bit longer too). If you are not then I could understand why you wouldn't be in to this, but there are lots of situations where people don't like to use laptops, even if they aren't part of your life.
      • Are you a commuter? If you are, then you would probably realize the value of having a device that is less cumbersome to use than even the smallest laptop(and the battery lasts a bit longer too).

        Nokia already sells an internet tablet that is small and light, and it has a range of capabilities that the Sony reader won't offer. Of course, it doesn't have the awesome display.
    • GP2X .. (Score:2, Informative)

      by torpor ( 458 )
      The GP2X can play music, watch video's, and also display books for reading [], is cheap, and 100% open. I got a laptop too (powerbook) but lately when I've got something to tote, I load up the GP2X and off I go .. very easy, very fun...
  • Open or closed? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by __aatgod8309 ( 598427 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:37AM (#14434080)
    I'd say any success depends on it's DRM. I mean, if it can only display ebooks in a specific proprietary filetype (remember the success of ATRAC?) then I would suggest that the chance of it catching on are pretty much nil.

    The reasons ipods became so popular were that it had the best UI of the time, and it played mp3s you could convert yourself. If this device can't display open formats (or at least PDFs), then it's just another electronic white elephant.
  • Other than having an English user interface, is this any different than the Librie they've been selling in Japan? The BBC story mentions the Librie but only says that it didn't sell well.

    It's claimed to offer a display "almost as sharp as paper", and perhaps it does, but in all the photos I've seen the contrast ratio doesn't look nearly as good as paper (even comparing to cheap paperbacks or newsprint).

    Maybe the photos are just bad. Sony's own photos [] look much better, though they're probably retouched

  • Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ours ( 596171 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:39AM (#14434088)
    It's about time. I've played with one of these 2 years ago in Tokyo and fell in love with it. If it wasn't for the price (aroud 400 US$) and the fact that it was all in Japanese (so I couln't check if it read PDF files), I would have bought one. If these baby can read PDF and HTML, it's going to be one great tool to read technical documentation during my daily train commute. No more heavy books to carry around breaking my back.
    • I've never used any kind of electronic ink stuff before. Can these things handle images? Alot of the PDFs I read have pictures of some sort. Sometimes they are important to help understand the text.
    • Can you take notes on it?

      I often write notes in my books with a pencile, but it can be very cumbersome to erase those notes (especially on low quality paperbacks).

      It would be nice if you could scribble something and the reader would save it to a separate file, so the reader would only have to overlay the notes over the pdf. One could even exchange notes etc. to produce annotated books.
  • Great, something else to put with my $400 ipod, $200 cell phone, and $300 PDA. The question is, *when* are they going to start talking to each other? I would love to actually be able to use the HD in my ipod to hook up with other portable devices. I really only need/want *one* HD.

    Does it allow mark up of text? Can you search through your books? Bookmark a page? Cross reference books? Are we going to actually get some intelligent addition to text than just a stupid conversion of paper->binary? These thing
  • Sony has realised the importance of making sure there is good content for a gadget like this.

    Translation: Sony has realised that to appease the god named Shareholder, they will have to plug this device as the consumer interface to a long and lucrative supply chain, reaching back to publishers (but not to authors: there it's the same as music: either you're one of very few stars, or you do it for love, and only love).

    In 2004 it launched a similar device [...] which failed to take off due to [price and] the r
  • Target Audience (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nymz ( 905908 )
    I'm still wondering who the target audience for this device is.

    -More expensive than books
    -Less 'enviroment friendly' than books
    -More restrictive than books (a 60 day ebook DRM deadline that self deletes, versus at my leisure, 1 day through forever)
    • Re:Target Audience (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) *

      Less 'enviroment friendly' than books

      On what basis do you assert that? I've spent a few minutes trying to come up with a single way in which it might be environmentally unfriendly compared to paper books, and I'm stumped.

      Assuming that you don't intend to just read a few books on it then throw the device away, it should be much MORE environmentally friendly than paper books. It uses very little electricity (only when you turn a page), so it takes much less energy to download and read a book on this d

  • It has to be able to display these to be of interest to me: []

    I do like to read contemporary works as well, (Strange and Norrell recently and Dowd's Bushworld) but I heavily favor the classics. I would not turn my nose up at proprietary formats and limited ownership times for most contemporary works since I rarely want to keep them after reading them. Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is a recent exception to that general rule (have them in hard back, looking forward to reading them again soo
  • Try Plucker (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Burz ( 138833 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:02AM (#14434159) Homepage Journal
    Plucker [] has been growing on me and seen increased use as of late. Its very versatile, and the format is open so I shouldn't get stuck with more eBooks having only semi-obsolete (or missing) readers on my palmtop of choice.
  • Any word on how much work they put into protecting it from running home-brew software? I'm sure there are a million uses for electronic paper but only if we're allowed to do what we want with it.

    And really I don't see what the problem is. With PSP their money comes from selling software. But with this reader most of the money will probably come from the hardware.
  • At last (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:06AM (#14434173)

    Reading is bed will never be the same again :o). I can't believe how long these devices have taken to be developed as I feel the potential market is huge. Perhaps the problem is simply that it is a huge shift in thinking. It's the first time that paper really will become some what redundant. I'm not saying we won't need paper but if these devices became ubiquitous and with a decent display (which I think would be needed for them to become ubiquitous) I could easily see paper useage dropping dramatically.

    I, for one, look forward to the day when 1000 page books weigh as much as a paper back and I don't have to struggle with forcing open a book that has printing running to within 3mm of the spine.

    In fact the only downside I can envisage is that it will put publishers out of business because it will become trivial to self publish. I realize that you could self publish in electronic format already but sticking a PDF on a website is different to producing a book.

  • As much as I love reading actual paper, I find books awkward to hold. They never seem to stay open enough so I must struggle to keep them from closing. Is there some secret trick I'm missing on breaking books in so they're comfortable? A device like this that doesn't blast light into my eyes could be a great alternative.
  • by ian_mackereth ( 889101 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:15AM (#14434205) Journal
    These dedicated e-readers are all trying to look like a dead-tree book and are missing a big part of the point. My PDA is small enough to fit in my shirt pocket. A book, even a paperback, isn't. Neither is a paperback-sized e-reader.

    It's like trying to make automobiles palatable to horse'n'cart users by putting a fake horse in front of it.

    I do all my reading on a Palm (T3, if you care) and have done for years. All it took to make it worthwhile was a paper-white screen with 320x320 or better resolution.

    Why do I prefer ebooks?
    The 800-page book I just read weighed no more than the short story I read before that. And I could have hundreds of 800-page books in my pocket at once.
    I can touch a word on the page and instantly call up a definition from a 150,000 word dictionary.
    I can read in the dark, I can read while waiting in a queue, I can read while floating in a canoe (with the PDA in a waterproof bag.)
    I can bookmark interesting pages, I can jot notes in an electronic 'margin', I can copy a relevant passage into an email without re-typing it.
    If my house burns down, I have an off-site backup of my library.
    I can search for a character's name or a phrase I want to look up.

    And I don't need something that _looks_ like a book to do it!
    • It's like trying to make automobiles palatable to horse'n'cart users by putting a fake horse in front of it.

      Effectively that's what a hood ornament is.

    • I absolutely adore Palm devices. I don't go anywhere without my Tungsten E. Yet, there's still some very small nitpicks I have with it. One of the main problems for me is battery life. My old IIIxe used to go for a month or two on a single pair of AAA batteries. Today, I need to charge nightly in order to keep the battery up. The screen is also a problem - I usually work in areas with lighting that requires me to turn the Palm's backlight up 100% just to read the screen.

      If e-paper is as good as others
      • Yeah, somewhere along the line they stopped trying to do one thing well and put all of those bells-n-whistles on the unit which sap battery life.

        I still miss my IIIx, being able to swap batteries out was a very handy thing. I usually got about 2-3 weeks of life out of mine.

        Nowadays, I've been using a Palm OS cellphone (Kyocera) that I bought back in 2001. Since it's a cellphone, the short battery life is a little more palatable. I can get 2-3 days between charges if I'm not using it to make calls. T
    • This may be true for you, but other people have different requests. For me, I'd much prefer this solution, were it not for the cost. I have a PDA (a Sony NR-70V with a large, 320x480 screen), and have played around with some e=books on it, but I have issues, many of which this device resolves.

      1. For example, the battery life doesn't last very long on my PDA, since the LCD requires power constantly, and the backlights require power constantly (especially since it's a colour screen)
      2. I find the screen, though
    • stay in my pants pockets....
      sometimes more than 2.
    • by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:29AM (#14434778) Homepage Journal
      These dedicated e-readers are all trying to look like a dead-tree book and are missing a big part of the point. My PDA is small enough to fit in my shirt pocket. A book, even a paperback, isn't. Neither is a paperback-sized e-reader.

      Paperback size is about perfect for a form-factor. Why do you think books converged on that size? It's not as if making smaller books were impossible, but publishers rather vary the page count than the size. Yes, I know there is a lot of variation in book sizes - but up from paperback size rather than down. There are lots of thicker or larger books, but very few smaller. Most publishers rather publish a thin book than a small one.

      You might be comfortable reading on a PDA screen. I for sure am not. I don't want to have the screen 10 cm in front of me, and neither do I want to ready tiny letters.
  • by giafly ( 926567 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:16AM (#14434210)
    The unit reads PDF files as well as Sony's proprietary (anyone surprised?) BBeB format (stands for Broadband Electronic Books). They will be releasing software for reading BBeB format on your computer so you can read books you've purchased on your PC as well as on the Reader, but apparently you can only "share" your copy of the book with up to six other devices. When pressed for details about how this "document DRM" actually works, the PR rep we spoke with had zero information -- we asked whether a Mac version of the BBeB-reading software would be released but no word on that either. - Engadget []
    • you can read books you've purchased on your PC as well as on the Reader, but apparently you can only "share" your copy of the book with up to six other devices.

      I assume that means a DRM management program will be automatically installed on your PC (probably before you even agree to the EULA) as soon as you plug it in, maybe phoning home as part of the enforcement process. Will the program try to intercept downloads of of non-DRM'ed books? Given Sony's track record for such things, I would be ver

  • This thing looks like a plastic hunk of technology. Like an Ipaq, or more, like one of those cheap ripoff PDA's you see at the checkout at staples.

    No matter how good it is, its hard to see this thing taking off. Especially at that price!

    The main thing I would do diffent is give it a nice leather binding like a fancy book. And make it *look* like a book. Finally, the border around the LCD makes it look junky and distracting.

  • I like the idea of e-books but they do lack some of the conveniencs of a paper back. The major one being cost. If I leave a £4.99 book on a train I am mostly just upset that I can't read it until I get another copy and then I will have to relocate my position. But if I leave £400 of e-book on a train I probably won't give a stuff about the books! Although if it carries 80 books will my insurance reimburse me for those too? Or will the ebook library let me have another download for free (thi
  • As a /. reader and com sci graduate the advantages of a single, lightweight low power solution versus the tomes that I used to have to chug around are obvious... although when I needed it most, university, I could have afforded it least. Even now, I find myself turning to electronic texts for referance over paper equivalents, but I have never read a novel from either a PDA or a VDU.

    From a referance point of view an electronic reader is a long time comming. With any luck it will mean the publishers can stop
  • I've been seeing some of the bestsellers in bookstores in an audiobook format complete with the reader. Add a AA battery and it's ready to play.

    The total price including the audioplayer is cheaper than Sony wants for a text file of the same book.
  • by trawg ( 308495 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:30AM (#14434259) Homepage
    The article says it supports BBeB/PDF/JPEG/MP3. I bought an MS Reader ebook a couple years ago (just to see how it all worked) for my ipaq, so I obviously can't use that - I have to buy my book again.

    I'd like to see .txt format (for extra points, let me zip them up!) available for ebooks so as I change and upgrade my handheld reader, I don't have to keep buying the books.

    DRM sure is grand.
  • The future? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ahg ( 134088 )
    Let me do some wild speculation...

    Apple will introduce an E-ink paper add on to the Ipod. A little clip-on device, that rolls/folds into a convenient to carry size. The device will need no storage of its own, and no logic, perhaps not even its own power source, just clip it on, and use the familiar iPod click wheel to navigate your documents. Of course, it will support PDF, and some other form of DRM content that works with your existing iTunes/Fairplay account with a similiar set of restrictions.

  • Okay, your mileage may vary BUT I have the Sony Librie and I read nearly all my books with it.

    With the exception of native PDF and HTML (I think) support, the difference between the new eBook and the Librie is small.

    The Librie looke better as it is in white AND it has a keyboard. It also has a headphone socket. Neither of these are used by anyone, but the device is Linux as so there is a large hacker community and tools are coming out all the time. Initially the effort was to translate all the Japanese soft
  • From TFA:
    The technology used means the screen is not backlit, avoiding screen flicker, which can put a strain on the eyes.
    As if one (backlighting) has anything to do with the other (flickering)...

  • I would TOTALLY use one of these things (especially because I have seen the type of display they use, and it's really very nice). I would use it to work on my novel, read bits of text that I'm translating while on the train, take a report from work to look at on the plane -- as long as it can read plain text and HTML files it's fine. Excel, and powerpoint would be good too but I can see how there could be issues there. But text and HTML are fine.

    Oh, wait.

    I can use it to read particular selected books tha
    • I can use it to read particular selected books that Sony has done a deal with Random House on. And PDF files. That are on a Sony(r) brand memory stick. In other words, no attempt is made to make it useful as a general purpose display device -- the focus is a game console like business model where they make the money on licensing someone else's content to me.

      And don't forget the books will cost nearly as much as print editions and will be DRM'ed up to the eyeballs so you can't use your book on any other de

  • From Sony's website []

    I think i need this line for the lameness filter
  • if you try and copy any of the text out with a pen and paper, it explodes the pen in your hand and makes you unable to read any word prefixed by a the string $sony$
  • I would very much like to have such a thing. I love Victorian literature, so I can download all of it from Gutenberg [] and read it from such a device. But after the rootkit debacle I decided never to buy Sony if I can help it, so...
  • by Nice2Cats ( 557310 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:10AM (#14434547)
    critics are already predicting the Reader's success.

    Yeah yeah.

    These are the people that have been predicting e-books would take off now for how long? The same people who told us that push technology is the next great thing. Oh, and the iPod-killer, mustn't forget how many iPod-killers they have predicted. Fact: "Critics" and "expert" and (even worse) "analysts" tend to be terrible in predicting what people will buy. If they did know jack, they would be wearing black turtlenecks, earning a dollar a year, and making people in San Francisco swoon with the really successful things.

    I'll say it again and again, until I can drop my e-book in the bathtub without ill effects, the batteries will never go out on me, I can scrawl notes on the margins of "Cryptonomicon" where Stephenson got the German wrong, and dog-ear it where I like to reread, the things will remain a toy. Paper has too many advantages and too few disadvantages to be in danger.

  • You can tell this is Slashdot by the comments alone. A bunch of people have basically said, "I don't understand why this will sell, the feature list isn't different from other things out there." If a device in this space catches hold, it won't be because of the feature list. It will be because of usability-- the interface and form factor need to make reading a book feel natural.
  • What happened since last month's article that claimed e-paper was going to be so cheap it'd be on every cereal box? 5/1720224&tid=126&tid=14 []
  • How can their reader be taking hold? It was just unveiled at CES according to TFA. At least wait until they have a retail product out before announcing that it's "taking hold".
  • Books are cheap, easy to use, don't need batteries, and are accessible to everyone through the public library. I don't see books going away any time soon.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)