Alternate Option
Thoughts from me.
Sunday, July 17, 2005 2:36 am
E-Ink and the sad ongoing tale of the Sony Librie
Currently the exciting (relatively) gadgets are
Other less exciting things:
And the reliable mainstays
Sony has been sitting on the the Librie for about a year now. This is a E-Ink powered black & white ebook reader. Apparently it looks gorgeous and functional. But it is crippled by copy protection. Copy protection done right is acceptable—but the Librie’s is ridiculous. Out of the box it can only display Broad Band eBook files; and not text, HTML or PDF files.

There is an active Yahoo! discussion group devoted to extending the capabilities of the Librie, translating the operating system to English, and allowing other forms of text to display on the screen. Essentially this group exists because Sony has crippled the hardware—for non-technological reasons.

The damn thing is also not widely available worldwide—definitely not off-the-shelf in Australia.

In simplest terms, it looks like Librie is made up of
This combination, in a 300 gram casing, is exciting. The most exquisite piece of hardware is undoubtedly the screen. Digital devices have included card readers, keypads etc. for decades; however the Librie’s screen is much praised and seems technologically unique.

So it is hard to say why Sony is being such a hard-ass about selling this product properly. Is it because:
I think that this is a device with incredible mass-appeal. Cameras and audio players have successfully gone digital. A light robust digital ebook reader is likely to have more mass-appeal that the video/media players that are currently being pushed. PDAs are too small, and Tablet PCs are physically and software-ically too heavy and complex. There is also a vast amount of text content available to users. Text is smaller to download and easier to manage than video is.

The electronics market being what it is, eventually some company will get smart and ebook readers will be ubiquitous. The eBook market may potentially even go the same way as the iTunes Music Store.

But it is a shame that Sony has chosen not to make a land-grab with the first promising device on the market.

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