Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sony turns the page with new eReader

More features but ergonomics still a problem ...

"The arrival of a new generation of e-book readers in Canada, led by the Sony Reader PRS 505, is a story that suggests we're nearing a peak of technological development. Does it mean e-book manufacturers will finally realize their dream of the past dozen years or so?

Technologically, perhaps. The Sony Reader PRS 505 is, compared to most of its competitors, small, capable of storing whole libraries, thin (15 mm, including its soft front and back leather-like covers), light enough (337 grams) to hold for a long period of time without fatigue, and ultimately really cool-looking. And the number of books being released is growing every day.

In short, wow.

But it still doesn't supersede or even match the experience of reading a traditional book. In fact, it can be argued that technologically, the PRS 505 and all digital readers are still far behind the technology that has been stuffed into books made from paper since Gutenberg turned the crank on his press in 1454. Although Gutenberg never used semiconductors, an awful lot of very real technology has been poured into books during the half-millennium before the digital revolution.

... When it comes to researching ergonomics, Sony seems to have done a good amount of homework. Ten buttons down the right side serve as menu selectors for different titles or documents in your collection, and two page-back and page-forward buttons are located on the right edge. Controls at the bottom include a left-hand page-turning control, along with buttons to magnify text and insert a book mark; the right side offers a navigation wheel much like those found on MP3 players, and a menu button.

One disappointment is the screen. Narrower and shallower than a paperback page, its monochrome 800-by-600-pixel display has no back light and resembles what we saw in the earliest Palm handhelds. That's to say its dark-grey-on- light-grey screen offers a puritanical reading experience, the kind usually reserved for data, not enlightenment or entertainment. It's not at all like a real book, more of a compromise resulting from the power requirements of backlit screens, colour displays and battery life.

How it would handle a hugely popular book such as William Goldman's The Princess Bride, where whole sections were printed in red, is mystifying: Would Sony have turned it into italics? This is not rocket science."    (Continued via globeandmail.com)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Sony Reader - Ergonomics

Sony Reader

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