ok ok, i stole that title from a 2002 article, but i really liked the title... so, yesterday i bought a sony PRS-500 reader, i wanted to play around with some e-ink device for some time now, and $300 seemed like a fair price. it is a really nice piece of hardware, but as usual, hampered by sony's approach to limit the ability of users to do anything outside of sony's intended business model. too bad, they could have produced a brilliant device allowing things that previously have been impossible, but instead they created a very foreseeable failure in the marketplace. well, they sure can afford it, but it really makes you wonder what exactly the thinking is that underlies such a product development.
the electronic ink display is crisp and clear, but too small, and font antialiasing seems to be non-existent or badly implemented (it is hard with e-ink, though, because it only has 4 grayscales). it should be better with the latest generation of e-ink displays (which have 8 grayscales and also come in bigger sizes), so let's see when we will see a product using these displays.
the reader comes with bundled windows software, and even though it plugs into usb, you need the software to do anything. on the reader itself, you can't do anything about managing content, you cannot even delete a file. i do understand that they wanted to keep the reader interface simple, but why not make the content available as a usb drive, so that i could drag and drop content without special software? the reason, of course, is the sale of e-books, with is the raison d'être for the device in the first place, so the whole software looks very much like a book-oriented version of itunes. i will very likely not purchase a single e-book (they simply don't sell any interesting titles), though, so the process of first having to
import documents, images, and songs into the pc software, only that i can then
transfer it to the reader, is annoyingly complicated.
i will enjoy playing around with this device and seeing how useful i can make it to be, but it will not become part of my personal information management, i guess. with a bigger screen and a more open approach towards content management, though, it could be a whole different story. and, of course, it would need a state-of-the-art web browser to become a what i would want it to be: a device that lets me take any content with me.