Almost getting my hands on a Sony Reader e-book experience

 by Martin Belam, 31 October 2008

I got my first chance to play with Sony's Reader at Waterstones in Kensington on Tuesday. Well, I didn't really get a good feel for it, as it was firmly bolted to some point-of-sale material for security reasons.

Sony E Reader on display in Waterstones

I thought the screen was very readable, but, like a few reviews I've seen. I found the page-flip to be a bit laggy. Mind you, I've been mostly using the Internet at 32kbps for the last two years, so you'd think I'd have developed a bit of patience for page loading times!

People have talked for some time about the Sony device or Amazon's Kindle being 'the iPod moment' for books.

I'm not convinced myself - you don't have to remember to charge up dead trees, and nobody ever got mugged for their paperback.

Still, it is obviously doing good business - there is a waiting list for stock in London.

Sony E Reader reservation notice


The reviews I read from US users on the first and second version of these were terrible - not such much the page-flip, but all the DRM, overpriced books and how much of a nightmare it was to get your own PDF/text content imported onto the thing.

Unless you are a librarian / frequently consulting large reference manuals, I'd suggest the need to carry more than one book around with you at any one time is slim. Perhaps two books if you're about to finish the first one.

If the Amazon Kindle (which does monochrome web-browsing, RSS, blogs etc.) can successfully launch over here, and one or more newspapers starts to provide a subscription service (as happens in the states) - then I think then is the time to seriously consider an E-book reader. E-ink may have improved by then too.

On the other hand we've got both the original US version and the new British one at home. I think they're great little gadgets: you get used to the page-refresh flicker surprisingly quickly (and the refresh time is no longer than it takes to turn the page of a traditional book anyway)..

It's anything but difficult to copy PDFs or text files to the device, as long as you've got a way to write to memory cards on your PC. The DRM for "proper" e-books is something that just has to be put up with for now, but there's a shedload of classics over at project gutenberg, free for the taking.

And yeah, it's rare that you *need* to carry around your entire book library with you. But you don't *need* all your mp3s with you either, yet Apple successfully reinvented the mp3 player based on the premise that actually, you really really did :)

But you don't *need* all your mp3s with you either

As someone who used to pack about 40 MiniDiscs into his bag for a weekend away, I beg to differ ;-)

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