Sony to use Electonic Paper Display in eBook

Two exciting things rolled into one: an new eBook reader from Sony, and it employs a new display technology that we’re really looking forward to getting our hands on. The LIBRIe is the first consumer application of their revolutionary display, going on sale in Japan next month.

The 170 pixels per inch display is made by Philips, and employs a technology developed by E Ink. It can be read at any angle and appears just like paper, with very sharp black/white contrast. Because the reader only uses power when you “turn” pages, users can view more than 10,000 pages on four AAA batteries.

Sony state in a press release that the LIBRIe can store 500 books at a time, but don’t say how much storage the reader has, or if it can be expanded. We hope that device can be expanded (bets on a MemoryStick slot, anyone?), but our main wish is that the LIBRIe isn’t confined to displaying files in a proprietary format – we want something we can read plain text and Word/OpenOffice documents on. We were once shocked to see that the eBook version of a Stephen King novel on Amazon was considerably more expensive than the hardback – even when postage was included. Now Rocket know why their reader didn’t sell too well.

We’ve long wanted a proper eBook reader here at Digital Lifestyles. We even considered importing one of the Rocket eBooks when they first appeared, and occasionally when my eye drifts to the huge stack of also huge books by my bedside, I imagine how good it would be to have them all on one device, slightly bigger than A5 without the annoying rustly page turning and the realisation that the book I really fancied leafing through is in another room.

Sadly, PDAs, proprietary formats, expensive devices, expensive content, lack of marketing meant that the eBook dream never quite took off. Hopefully, since the LIBRIe is backed by the Sony brand, it’ll fly this time.

If it becomes available in the UK/USA, we’ll buy one and do a review here.


Yahoo on the LIBRIe

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?