E-book readers started as commodity gadgets, but they ended up selling very well, so well that lots of people bought them, either for themselves or as gifts. Now that the consumer market is more or less saturated, those still in the game are looking for alternative outlets.
The educational segment is one of the most popular ones and, sure enough, Sony is courting it. The company has even stepped beyond the normal mold of low-size displays.
Rather than a 6-inch, 7-inch or 8-inch screen, the e-reader it is sending to universities, in Japan anyway, has a diagonal of 13.3-inches.
The size was chosen because it is equivalent to A4 sheets of paper.
Sony intends to commercialize the e-reader later this year, and is using universities for a test drive as it were.
The gadget's e ink 16-level gray scale display has a resolution of 1200 x 1600 pixels, plus touch input.
That's a very high pixel density for something of this sort. No doubt the company wants to make sure all words and illustrations in e-books are crisp and clear, especially since color won't be supported.
Speaking of e-books, they will be stored on the 4 GB of internal memory (ePUB, doc, PDF, etc.), or whatever microSD card is inserted into the card reader.
Furthermore, the gadget can connect to Wi-Fi networks, although the feature will drain the battery quite fast. Without it on, the e-reader should last for a full three weeks without needing a recharge.
Moving on, the e ink e-reader / tablet is being tested in three Japanese universities at the moment.
A stylus is included in the package, for handwriting and drawing. Whether or not the device has handwriting recognition is unclear.
As for the physical aspects, not counting the display diagonal, the e-reader is 6.8mm thick (0.26 inches) and weighs 358 grams (12.6 ounces).