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    Re: Self Sufficiency
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2007 May 30, 10:55 -0400

    Dan writes:
    "My personal collection of data is almost 500 GB now"
    
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a 500 gigabyte hard drive to steer her
    by...
    
    
    
    I don't want to get too far out into a techno discussion, but since we seem
    to be entering summer doldrums on the list, I'll mention one device that may
    fit with your collection of offline books. It's the new "Sony Reader". This
    is an "almost there" technology, so if you're an early-adopter, it may
    appeal to you. The device can display books beautifully, in proprietary
    formats, and with very good success (but some flaws) it can also display
    common formats including text, RTF, and simple PDF files, but no HTML files
    of any sort. It's a unique device because it uses an e-ink display, which is
    a type of so-called "electronic paper" (details: 800x600, portrait or
    landscape, two-bit greyscale, usually displaying one-bit monochrome). It's
    easy to read in any lighting conditions except darkness --it has no
    backlight. Some reviewers have described it as being like reading a
    newspaper printed on grey paper. When you first see it displaying a page,
    you may think you're looking at a cardboard insert of a simulated display.
    That's how different this is from a traditional computer or calculator
    display. I also describe it as being like a programmable "etch-a-sketch"
    (that's a drawing toy, for those unfamiliar). If you've ever wanted to sit
    outside in full sunlight and read electronic books and similar documents,
    this device can do it. But it's not much more than that. It has very limited
    computing power, so no search functions and large files confuse it. It can
    display photos, too, but at 800x600 in black & white. It is also an MP3
    player (do we care?).
    
    Because the display on the Sony Reader is semi-permanent, once a page has
    been drawn, which takes about half a second (thus prohibiting animation), it
    requires no further power to display it. This is surprising and a little
    hard to get used to. I'm so used to power-hungry small devices that it's a
    real shock to use something that consumes its battery charge like an
    electronic wristwatch. Power is only needed when a page is refreshed. They
    claim that you can get something like 7500 page turns on a single charge
    (unless you're using it as an MP3 player), and I believe it. This is the
    sort of device that you could charge once before a two-week vacation,
    reading for a couple of hours every day, and leave the charger at home.
    
    I've recently been re-reading Maskelyne's "British Mariner's Guide to the
    Discovery of the Longitude at Sea and Land" (1763) on the Sony Reader. I
    find it very easy to read on the Reader and distinctly more convenient than
    carrying around a print-out of the pdf version that I have. The difference,
    however, is not overwhelming, and many people will look at a device like
    this and say, very reasonably from their perspective, "who needs that?" For
    some people though, I would definitely recommend it. The Sony Reader weighs
    12 ounces and measures 7" x 5" x 0.6". It is only available in the US market
    at this time. Prices vary (see ebay, search "Sony Reader PRS"), but it's not
    cheap.
    
    
     -FER
    
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