Sony LIBRIe E-Ink Electronic Book Update

Update: 04/23/2004 - The new Sony LIBRIe uses E-Ink technology to solve an essential problem. Previous electronic books have all had the same problem; they make use of LCD displays that typically offer far lower resolution and lower contrast than ink on paper. This leads to fatigue in reading; independent studies indicate that people will read from one-quarter to one-third less in electronic media than they will on paper.

The E-Ink Electronic Paper Display is reflective; the manufacturer claims that it can be easily read in both bright sunlight and inside. The resolution provided is 170 pixels per inch (compare to about 60 pixels per inch for standard LCD displays). The device is similar in size to a paperback book, and uses 4 AA batteries. The display requires so little energy in a static state (looking at one page), the batteries should last through a reading of 40 books.

Reviewers who have seen it claim that "the quality of the display will come as quite a shock to any seasoned user of mobile devices; it looks more like paper than the computer screen it is."

Sony LIBRIe E-Ink E-Book

Sony LIBRIe E-Ink E-Book

In an interview in The Guardian (Library Without Books), Sony's Yoshitaka Ukita mentioned that "flexible electronic paper which can handle Harry Potter-esque moving images and colour is in the research and development labs." Although it may be a few years before The Daily Prophet, the wizarding newspaper, can be successfully reproduced for us muggles, the R&D is proceeding.

Science fiction fans may recall smart paper from Neal Stephenson's 1995 book The Diamond Age.

Read more in the Sony Electronic Book press release. Find out more about E Ink at Electronic Ink Technology Overview.Thanks also to engadget for The LIBRIe: Sony's Electronic Ink E-Book Reader.

(Thanks to Kaj for finding this one. Original story submitted Mar-26-2004)

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