Arthur C. Clarke's 'Newspad' Finally Arrives

Sony brings a new dimension to the electronic book with its new Sony Reader. Measuring just 6.9" x 4.9" x .5", it holds up to 80 average sized books at a time. Sony will be happy to sell you a memory stick or SD card to give you room for more.

Looks like Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 newspad is here and ready for you to use.


(Sony Reader does graphic novels, too)

According to people who have tried it, Sony has largely succeed in creating an electronic book that can present pages with a display that has the characteristics of paper. Usability experts have long decried reading on a screen; due to low contrast, strong backlighting, screen flicker and low resolution, most people would prefer to avoid long reading sessions on computers.

The e Ink technology provides relatively high contrast, no backlight, no screen flicker and good resolution.


(Sony Reader paper-like text)

It also appears that Sony has listened to consumers who tore their hair in agony over the absurd digital rights management (DRM) scheme in their previous reader—pretty much total lockdown. This one appears to let you choose from among different formats, allowing you to read downloaded web pages, PDF files, and more.

Microcapsules provide the magic—e Ink writes the page just once. Positive or negative charge holds the "dot" (or lack of one) in place until the screen is rewritten with a new page.

Douglas Adams provides an entertaining look at the idea of an electronic book—the Hitchhiker's Guide from his 1979 novel is an early description. Arthur C. Clarke had the same thing in mind when he described a newspad in his 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey.

When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship's information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world's major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad. Switching to the display unit's short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.
(Read more about Arthur C. Clarke's newspad)

Read about the Sony Reader predecessor - the Sony LIBRIe and the Two-sided Toshiba Reader; peek into the future at two-sided electronic paper. Check out the Sony Reader features page for more info.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)