This is the Sony Portable Reader System, also known as the PRS-500. This is supposed to be Sony's answer to those who complained that reading books on their Personal Digital Assistant was too uncomfortable to do for any length of time. No one likes eyestrain. From some British newspaper:
"Unlike other e-books, the screen has no flicker or back light, allowing the reader to spend as much time reading as they want without the fear of eyestrain.
"The 6-inch screen can be taken for a monochrome liquid-crystal display at first glance, but on closer inspection looks like no other electronic display. It's behind a thin pane of glass, but unlike an LCD it shows no "depth" - it pretty much looks like a light grey piece of paper with dark gray text."
For me, the matter of eyestrain was always the key reason not to bother with these so-called "e-books". Reading a name and number or even a short news article off of a PDA was fine. Attempting to read a chapter of a novel on a PDA, however, had me squinting in no time, and wishing for the ole reliable Luddite version. But the other night, while reading a mass-market paperback edition of the 1,000-plus page Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, my hand was beginning to feel the strain of keeping that stack of paper cracked open for more than half an hour. A machine that's "the size of a paperback book, but only a third of an inch thick," which is how the article describes the PRS-500, sounds like a device I could try and read a book on.
Now comes the part where I ask a silly question whose answer is undoubtedly a quick and annoyed 'no'. Here goes: Is this the beginning of the end for the printed word? For proof that we shouldn't sell our stock in Barnes & Noble quite yet, this too from the article: "Like paper, the display is readable from any angle, but it doesn't look as good as the real thing, chiefly because the contrast doesn't compare well. The background isn't white and the letters aren't black. The letters show some jaggedness, even though the resolution is a very respectable 800 by 600 pixels." See? As cool as it is, it's still not as good as looking at a regular piece of paper with words printed in ink on it. The machines are winning, sure, but they haven't won yet.
Anywho! Like I said, next week will feature many a blog posting, but today I push away from the computer to write middling to bad fiction with naught but pen and paper. See ya next week.