karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

One word: Plastics!

I've heard it said that it's harder to write science fiction these days, because we're living in such a high tech age. Certainly, devices such as the supposed-to-be-here soon Plastic Logic e-reader look very space age. According to their website, Plastic Logic expects to have beta test copies the second half of this year. I assume that means by December 31. They don't have any info on pricing yet, since the product won't be for sale until 2010 (the first year we will describe as "Twenty something" instead of "two thousand something" or "oh something." How futuristic is that?).

There are several videos on YouTube of geeks going gaga over this new technology, and it does look neat. But I have two points to make. First, unlike Kindle, this gadget isn't designed as a book reader but rather as a document reader—a replacement for paper documents. It's the same size as a sheet of copier paper. It will fit well in a briefcase, but not in my purse. I can actually see it having more impact on office workers than on people who read novels. The larger screen size makes it easier to display and read charts, graphs, and newspaper-style copy.

Which is not to say they won't eventually come out with a smaller version for personal use. But that brings up my second point. It's not here yet. If they're projecting 2010 before this is for sale, it could be 2011 or even later before we can actually buy one. And by then, the e-reader market may well be flooded with new versions of the Kindle or the Sony or even an affordable version of the iLiad.

A lot of geeks tend not to like the Kindle because it's not as slick as an iPod or as multi-use as a mini-PC or smart phone, but I've come to the conclusion that a device that does one thing really well is better than a device that does six things in a half-assed way. Right here, right now, Kindle works for me.

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Tags: e-books

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