The Sony Reader is a paperback-sized ebook reader (about 1/4″ thick) which uses E-ink technology to display text in a very paper-esq manner. The screen actually displays dots of ink which reflect light, just like normal paper. By using this technology, you get incredible battery life (7000 pages on a charge) and far less eyestrain than with a traditional digital display.
The Reader displays books purchased from the Sony Connect store or any PDF, TXT, RTF, JPG or GIF file. It can also play MP3s. There’s about 100 meg of internal storage, but the Reader has an SD/Memory Stick slot which allows for expansion. I just popped in an $8, 1gig SD card from NewEgg.
I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. Reading from it is as comfortable (or perhaps more comfortable) than reading paper. It’s such a joy to constantly have a whole collection of books with you. You can easily mark as many pages as you want and jump to them as desired. Text can also be displayed in three different sizes, or rotated into landscape mode. There are multiple page turn buttons as well, to make it comfortable no matter how you hold it.
Downsides? Well, it’s spendy. $350 will get you the Reader, though it comes with $50 in credit at the Sony Connect store, along with another $100 towards “classic” books. The books from the Sony store are generally in the range of 20% cheaper than the dead-tree version, however some titles are closer to 50% off (and a few inexplicably cost more).
Another downside, for some folks at least, is that the screen goes through an odd flash when turning the page. This is because the e-ink has to clear the screen before drawing new text. It doesn’t bug me at all, as I just consider it akin to physically turning a page.
In any case, I love mine and look forward to showing other folks just how good it is. If you want to check one out in person (and you don’t see me on a routine basis), you can find them at some Borders bookstores.