I was wandering around Costco today, and saw that they had the Sony Reader PRS-500 on sale for $250. I almost picked one up, but thought better of it. I’m glad I did, since a little research reveals that the new model, the PRS-505 came out last week. It’s available for $300 direct from Sony. I’ve been mighty tempted to pick one of these things up since they were first announced about a year ago, but I figured I should wait for the second gen, at least, assuming there would be one. Well, I guess now there is.
It’s still not altogether that compelling. It does 8 shades of grey (vs. 4 on the old one). Supposedly the screen refresh is faster. The interface seems to have been improved a bit. It appears that it still doesn’t support full-text search within a book, though. I really think that a decent search interface, along with the availability of a large number of technical reference books, would make this a killler device for programmers and other tech folks. And a partnership with Safari would be great too. Imagine being able to sync all the books on your Safari bookshelf down to this device. Safari’s nice, but you can’t really just sit back in a recliner and read a book off the Safari web site; it’s basically just good for reference. (I guess you *could* read a book off Safari, but I’m not comfortable doing it, even with my iBook. Notebook screens just aren’t good enough for extended reading sessions. At least for my tired old eyes.)
It’s still an interesting device, even if it’s only good for stuff that you’re going to read in a linear fashion — novels, mostly, and maybe some non-fiction. I like the idea of carrying a nice small device around, rather than carrying, say, the 1250-page Essential Ellison. Of course, they don’t have much Ellison available at the Sony ebook store. Heck, they don’t have any Tolkien, or any of the Harry Potter books either.
Maybe I’ll wait for the third generation!