Sony LIBRIe – The first ever E-Ink e-Book Reader

Philips, Sony and E-Ink have come together to announce the Worlds first consumer application of an electronic paper display module in the Sony LIBRIĆ© e-Book reader. The black and white ink-on-paper look of the plastic display film is 170 pixels per inch (PPI) and resembles newsprint.

Easily read in bright sunlight or dimly lit environments, the reflective screen designed by Philips only uses power when the image changes. A user can read more then 10,000 pages on four AAA Alkaline batteries. This technology also makes the e-book light and highly portable, measuring only 126mm x 190mm x 13mm thick and weighing approximately 190g. The 800 x 600 screen resolution is 6-inches of electronic ink plastic film, capable of displaying four shades of gray.

Readers can download published content such as books, newspapers, comics and internet sites. The storage capacity is only 10MB and can hold around 500 downloaded books, if that is not enough you can add a maximum of 512MB with memory stick PRO.

“In today’s mobile world, we know that the quality of the experience and ease-of-use are important in driving consumer adoption of mobile devices. Up until now, consumers have been less willing to adopt e-reading applications because of poor display quality on cumbersome devices,” said Mr. Yoshitaka Ukita, General Manager, e-Book Business Dept, Network Application & Content Service Sector, Sony Corporation. “This display solution provides a level of text clarity comparable to paper. Combined with our thin, lightweight device design, this novel e-Book reader offers users an enjoyable experience and the freedom to access material at their convenience.”

“While the way people experience entertainment has changed dramatically with the rapid growth of portable entertainment devices like music and movie players, the way people read books, magazines and newspapers has not,” said Jim Veninger, general manager, Emerging Display Technology, Philips Electronics. “The precision of this new high-resolution electronic ink display technology will revolutionize the way consumers read and access textual information.”

No price was announced for the LIBRIe, but it will be available in late April 2004.


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  1. Laina Gavi says:

    As one of the original Kindle’s biggest fans and an owner for over a year, I can speak to the Kindle from two perspectives–the benefits of owning a Kindle, and Kindle 2 improvements (as I’ve now had it for half a day)

    The benefits of owning a Kindle (these do not change)
    - Absolutely, Jeff Bezos is right that the Kindle ‘disappears’ as you read it…as I read other reviews (and non-user critiques) about the Kindle, this point is often lost. Once you have the Kindle in your hands, you forget everything and become immersed in the content of what you’re reading. Isn’t that really the whole point?
    - I read more now that I have my Kindle, 10 years out of college than I did when I was in school, and I really enjoy it. Books look a lot less intimidating when they aren’t sitting on your bookshelf and 3 inches thick. I recently finished Team of Rivals, and I am sure that if I had to read it in book form, I would never have gotten through it because it would have felt so intimidating.
    - Heft and weight is a complete non-issue with the Kindle. I like to read in odd positions (in bed, on the couch, on a plane, poolside, shifting around in a lounge chair) and I’ve always had trouble with real books because unless you are in the absolute middle of the book, it always is weighted to one side or another and frankly, my arm and pinkie finger gets tired holding it up. The Kindle is balanced and portable, and entirely usable in any situation.
    - I can be in the middle of a lot of different books at once…not much more to say here. You never run out of space on the Kindle, and though it may be a little bit hard to maneuver around a lot of books in your library, it’s still better to have access to all your books at any time.
    - I now read newspapers. I always found physical newspapers to be clumsy and take up too much space to actually subscribe to. They are great for short content pieces, but terrible for reading in transit because the pages are so big. I also read some articles on my BlackBerry, but find myself scrolling a lot and waiting a long time for page loads. On the Kindle, you have wireless delivery, easy navigation, no ads, no need to flip to page D17 and find the place where you left off. You also have a searchable/annoted/bookmarked archive of all your newspaper articles if you ever need to find something again.
    - All of these things can probably be accomplished with any eBook reader. The difference with the Kindle is that you have wireless delivery of content. This means, literally, that I can be sitting on the plane, start talking about what good books the guy sitting next to me has read recently, look it up on my Kindle, read the reviews and download it before the rest of the passengers have boarded and the plane doors close. This has happened.
    - My biggest complaint, which I’m sure will be addressed in due course is that the entire wireless benefit does not exist outside of the US. I have taken my Kindle to Canada, Mexico and China, and I found that I had to (gasp), decide what I wanted to have on my Kindle before I left the US. Foreign language support would also be a plus, but again, I see why this might come later.

    Now, onto improvements with the Kindle 2
    - There are the obvious ones: sleeker look and feel (it feels solid in your hands), sharper screen, no longer accidentally depressing the next page button by accident and having to find your place in the book again…you can read about these from various sources)
    - The 5-way button, though a bit small, allows you to select left and right, and not just up and down like the original version. This is very helpful when you want to select and highlight.
    - There are now two layers of interaction…before when you were reading a paper, you could only go back to the previous screen to select the next article. Now, there is an option at the bottom of the screen to skip to the next article when you tire of the current one.
    - Page loads are much faster. I can feel that the delay between pages is much less. Only issue is I need to recalibrate now–in general, I try to anticipate how much time it will take the next page to load, and when I’m two lines from the bottom, I would hit the next page button. Now I need to push the button later.
    - Text to speech is cloogey, but fun. I’m not sure how useful this will end up being. I tried to have the voice read the user’s manual to me and it paused at commas and periods, but skipped right over hard returns. It also scrolled the page as it was reading, so if you are trying learn English and don’t mind developing a metallic accent, it could really help. :-) You can also choose, male/female and speed. I think this could be a nice feature, though probably won’t be using it all the time.
    - Managing your books is much easier. It’s easy to see what is in your archive and re-download onto the Kindle. Also easy to delete and manage your books. That 5-way button is magical…though a bit unintuitive–you need to train yourself to think that there might be something useful if you scroll to the right.
    - Dictionary is improved. Now you can highlight a word and it automatically gives you a definition at the bottom of the screen. It also lets you look up words (that are not in the text), which is an improvement since the last version.

    I’m sure there are still a bunch of things that I haven’t yet discovered about the Kindle 2. I don’t really bookmark/annotate/highlight that much, but for those who do, I think this has also been improved upon.

    Overall, the Kindle is an amazing product. It did the basics well in the original model, the Kindle 2 has improved on a lot of dimensions, and I look forward to seeing what new bells and whistles are still to come.

    If you are considering buying one, and need to see before you order, find someone in your city who has one and can show you. There is now a special board for this on Amazon. Kindle owners (at least this one), are always happy to talk about it, and you will be delighted with the screen and the possibilities in such a compact package.

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