The item I was most interested in seeing today is the soon-to-be-released ebook device called Sony Reader. I admit I was skeptical about it before I even got to see it. There have been too many failed attempts at ebook devices over the years and this sounded like the next one in the parade. Although I don’t think it’s going to set the world on fire, I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw.
First of all, the Sony Reader form factor is thinner and lighter than previous ebook devices. I’m not sure how to best describe it other than by saying it just felt right, like an ebook reader should.
All the details aren’t out yet, but it sounds like Sony might make the same proprietary mistakes they’ve made in the past. For example, it appears that they want to be the content distributor for the Reader. When you think of buying a book, do you really think about going to www.sony.com? I don’t.
It’s hard to beat the readability this product offers. My eyes have aged with me over the years and although I now have to use reading glasses from time to time, I found the Sony display as comfortable to read as a typical printed book page.
It looks like Sony is going to offer the Reader initially in two different versions, one at $400 and the other at $500. That’s way too expensive, even for most early adopters. Sure, I know prices will come down over time, but if they’re really on to something here they’re leaving the door open for someone else to come in and undercut their pricing. If they want to capture a significant portion of this potential market, they need to figure out how to sell this for less than $200, better yet, less than $100.
I’m also disappointed that it’s a monochrome display. OK, I guess that doesn’t matter much when you’re primarily using it to read novels, but why not think bigger? When I held the Reader in my hands today I thought, “wow, it would be great if I could have all my magazine subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions, books, etc., loaded on this.” I don’t want to be reading all those magazines in black-and-white, though.
In short, this one has some pros and cons, but I think Sony is heading in the right direction.