I have been following the reader ever since I ran across it on the Sony site earlier this year. I set myself up on the mailing list to be notified when the unit finally started shipping. I never got that email though I did get another teaser email earlier in the year. I found out it was shipping by walking through Fry’s and seeing it sitting here. I hoped Santa might bring me one this year, and in fact I did get one for Christmas. Hooray!
The Reader looks and feels cool. It’s just about the right size for easy reading and the screen is amazing. It is viewable from any angle and looks just like a paperback book page. This is due to the use of Electronic Paper Display technology from E-Ink. I read part of 1984 on it for a while with no discomfort or fatigue. You can also increase the font size for easier reading (there are a total of three sizes you can use). It could stand to be a bit whiter though, IMO. Under low-light conditions it’s still easier to read a real book than this screen.
The unit is light enough to carry around with you and it can store a whole lot of books. It can store even more if you insert a large SD card (not included).
The only complaints I have about the Reader is the fact that it takes so long (well, a second) to ‘turn’ the page and that when the page switches, the screen inverts and then repaints. Given that turning the page only happens only once every few minutes, and the quality of what it displays, I can live with it. The other thing is that there’s no backlight, so you can’t read in the dark. This is no different than reading a real book, so again, I can live with it. I think that the benefits outweigh the restrictions. It also reportedly consumes little or no electricity once the page is rendered. It only needs power while it’s changing pages. That’s pretty cool.
To get books onto your Reader, you apparently need to use the Sony Connect software if you want to get anything interesting, such as Michael Crichton’s latest. It’s essentially iTunes for eBooks. I haven’t found any way to use something like ebooks.com to get something onto your Reader. You can also import PDF files (and I believe other formats) onto your device. So you could always print something to PDF that you might want to read on a trip and take it with you.
You can also play MP3s and view pictures, though the pictures are just black and white since that’s all the screen can do. I’ve not used the MP3 feature. I may never use it, as that isn’t why I wanted it.
One other thing I should mention: if you are a Mac user, I think you are out of luck. There doesn’t appear to be any solution for using this device with a Mac that I’ve found.
All in all, I’m very much enjoying this cool device. I bought “The Tipping Point” in ebook form so I can finally finish that book. Reading all of that should be a good way to see how this device feels as a reader. So far I’ve had to up the text size as that book seems to use smaller type by default. I’m hoping that overall it meets or exceeds my expectations. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally read more, so I can get reel smot.