Author meets the future: how electronic is it?
[L]et’s say it out loud, reading on screen just isn’t the same.
At least not on a conventional flat screen, which the Sony very much does not have. I won’t bore you with the technology but it is nothing like the flat screen in your TV or computer monitor. This is a kind of electronic ink. A tedious fact in itself were it not for two things: it actually looks very good indeed, sharp and very much like real text. And it has no backlight so the Sony uses no power whatsoever when you are simply reading a page — only when you ‘turn’ to a new one.
How close to paper is it? Very close, particularly in bright daylight (when most electronic screens are utterly readable). The background isn’t as white a you’d expect, and you can’t see much in dark situations where a laptop would be very readable. But it’s a lot better than I expected, and I was quite happy flicking through books very quickly with it indeed.
So there’s the first lesson I learned about the Sony. You need to see it to believe it. Prejudices, for or again, really don’t count for much because this is quite unlike anything else you’ve ever encountered before.
Here’s the second big surprise: the size and feel of the thing. It’s tiny, little bigger than a paperback book, beautifully made, with a sturdy and expensive-looking satin metal shell encased in a cover that feels very like brown leather (which it isn’t). I’ve seen other book readers and they all, let’s be frank, look like calculators that have spent too long in McDonalds. The Sony isn’t plasticky, doesn’t shout ‘geek’ and feels very, very nice in the hand.
This is the first part of what promises to be several installments.