Sony has added a touch screen to its e-Reader (and a built-in LED reading light) as reported in the Wired Blog (also in eSchool News). Sony seems to be addressing an educational market (college and textbook publishers). The barrier is the price of $399 without the wireless service that is available for the same price with a Kindle, but they do offer 12-months of no interest and an $8, 3-year service plan including accidental damage from handling. Sony says the wireless service is coming, but one wonders if the price of the e-Reader will also rise.
The new e-Reader is available on November 14, 2008. It also has other features for students: "You can easily make annotations in your digital book with the virtual keyboard or highlight text you want to remember by selecting it with a stylus pen or with the touch of your finger." The battery allows the turning "7,500 continuous pages (or up to two weeks of reading) on a single charge." The memory will hold 320 average-sized digital books and can still be supplemented by both a Memory Stick Duo or an SD card.
What interests me is that Datavision on 39th Street in New York is displaying speed-reader Dave Farrow in its window for 30 days (see photo) where he is reading the e-Reader. The touch screen allows one to slide his finger in any direction to turn the page just like a traditional book. I wonder if a speed-reader can tolerate the speed with which e-ink changes the pages. It is worth a trip to 39th street to see. There is an implication here that merely adding a touch screen speeds up the process. We'll see.
I spoke with Dave through the glass and he demonstrated how fast the pages turned. It did seem a lot faster than I had thought it would be. I was very impressed with Sony's backlighting technology. It was awesome. Any one who is reading in limited lighting will appreciate it.
The stated point of Dave Farrow's reading is that the faster he reads, the more books will be donated to some schools. The unstated point is to demonstrate that speed-readers use e-books. The first 100 schools who register their e-book library with Sony will get 5 new Sony Readers. The deal seems to imply that the school's e-book library will be made available to Sony. I cannot find any more info on this right now. I will check more later.