Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stupid Sexy Sony!

I kind of feel like Homer Simpson after he sees Ned Flanders in his snug li'l ski suit, looking like a fetching ski bunny. As Homer struggles with skiing, he says in frustration, about the hot distraction, "Stupid sexy Flanders!"

This is a bit like my reaction to today's article from the NY Times about the new Sony Reader. It's sleek, it's sexy, it's "'bound' in a protective leatherette cover." Leatherette? But reading this, like many, I thought "haha. We still don't want to read a computer screen." The writer of the piece, one David Pogue, knew this was coming:

The Reader employs a remarkable new display technology from a company called E Ink. Sandwiched between layers of plastic film are millions of transparent, nearly microscopic liquid-filled spheres. White and black particles float inside them, as though inside the world’s tiniest snow globes. Depending on how the electrical charge is applied to the plastic film, either the black or white particles rise to the top of the little spheres, forming crisp patterns of black and white.

The result looks like ink on light gray paper. The “ink” is so close to the surface of the screen, it looks as if it’s been printed there. The reading experience is pleasant, natural and nothing like reading a computer screen.

Huh. Got me. I'm intrigued. I have not - I repeat, NOT - added this device to my Christmas list, but I'd like to see it in action. Like Flanders, it's something in theory I don't want, but I find myself looking... Still, there are plenty of hoops and hurdles - software issues, availability, and the ubiquitous nagging feeling that something better and cheaper will arrives moments after you purchase this thing, rendering it prehistoric immediately.

I think Pogue has it right - this is a great piece, introducing this Reader. He concludes:

The Sony Reader is an impressive achievement, and an important step toward a convenient alternative to bound books. It will make certain niche groups very happy: gadget freaks, lawyers with massive document stashes, doctors and pilots who check hefty reference texts, high school students with 35-pound backpacks and anyone who likes to read by the pool for 20 weeks at a time.

Go take a look - and keep up with the slate discussion, which continues to be entertaining and interesting.

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