eBook hope:
PDA-delivered e-books have blazed the trail, so Sony is releasing a new dedicated e-book reader, the LIBRIe. It should be going mass-market in Japan about now. Expensive; yes (I could get a Sony Clie for less), but it’s likely to be discounted as newer models come out. Batteries; the Librie uses four AAA normal batteries, not one of the very impressive new re-chargeable lithiums. It has heavy power consumption, apparently. By sheer co-incidence, Sony also makes disposable AAA batteries. Storage; Sony’s proprietory and unpopular Memory Stick. Not ideal. Screen technology; ‘as good as paper’, but we’ve heard that one before from Microsoft. Maybe Sony really have done it. If so, will it do b&w comics as well as text? That could certainly give it an edge in the Japanese market. Open access for all publishers; er, no – Japanese publishers plan “to keep a tight rein on the flow of ebooks”. Not good. Format wars; yes, tedious and ongoing. Leading to expensive eBooks, and putting off vendors. Direct net connection; nope. Doubles as an MP3 player; nope, so forget about listening to an audio book when you’re tired of reading. So all in all, and not having tried it; I don’t think this particular iteration of the LIBRIe is going to be the saviour of eBooks, even though the display sounds like a breakthrough. Let’s hope Sony license their new screen technology.