The Consumer Gadget Show (CES) continues in Las Vegas, and there's some excitement about today.
According to USA Today (UST), Sony is scheduled to open "a new chapter in the electronic-book saga by unveiling its handheld Reader Thursday" at the CES.
To date, there really hasn't been an e-book reader that consumers have jumped on. Because these devices have been hard to read or large and bulky, they haven't caught on. Most people who download e-books are still reading them on laptops and PDAs. But Sony hopes to change that this spring.
"Around the size of a paperback but only a half-inch thick, the Reader has a 6-inch gray-scale screen and is easy to hold at less than 9 ounces." Its expected retail price will be between $300 and $400.
"'This new display technology allows for long immersive reading, the type of which you wouldn't want to do on a computer screen,'" according to a Sony spokesman. "'It's very close to looking at the printed page.'" (UST)
The Reader's internal memory can store approximately 80 books, and extra memory cards can expand that storage to hundreds of books. USA Today indicates that a single battery charge will permit the users to read up to 7,500 pages.
As part of their marketing strategy, Sony plans to make 1,000 e-books available at its Connect Music store (http://musicstore.connect.com/) at the same time the Reader is launched. Engadget.com says that "industry heavyweights Simon & Schuster, Random House and HarperCollins are already signed up to provide content, with the latter two promising to digitize their entire back catalogs for inclusion on Sony's Connect . . . for a combined total of up to 50,000 titles."
Engadget points out that iRex (www.irextechnologies.com) is also scheduled to launch an e-book device. According to iRex's website, the iLiad device will be available as of April, 2006.
Engadget has also been watching a little-known Chinese electronics company called Jinke. "Jinke Electronics has been quietly toiling away at perfecting its Hanlin line for some time now, and they have recently introduced a model that may be able to compete with Sony . . . on features and performance."
If any or all of these devices can catch on with consumers, 2006 may very well be the year of the e-book.