How about a book-sized electronic device that could store many books at once? The first ebook readers were the Rocket eBook and the SoftBook Reader, launched in Silicon Valley in 1998.
These dedicated electronic readers were the size of a (large and thick) book, with a battery, a black and white LCD screen, and a storage capacity of ten books or so. They could connect to the internet through a computer (for the Rocket eBook) or directly with a built-in modem (for the SoftBook Reader).
They got much attention from book professionals and the general public, with few of them buying them though, because of their rocket-high price — several hundreds of dollars — and a small choice of books in the digital bookstores available on the companies’ websites. Publishers were just beginning to digitize their own books, still wondering how to market them, and worried with piracy concerns. Continue reading eBooks: 1998 – The first ebook readers
The Cybook Gen3 from Bookeen is an ultra-light reading device that uses the E ink® screen technology (VizPlex), giving a paper-like high contrast appearance that is readable even under direct sunlight. As with all E-Ink devices the battery gives a great number of page turns, though the Cybook is a little better than the Sony Reader Digital Book (PRS-505), reaching an impressive 8,000 page turns. The Cybook also reads many different file formats, including the MobiPocket format, and offers access to a wide range of digital documents. In the future the Cybook will also have a firmware upgrade to allow EPUB files to be read.
Great news is that unlike the Sony Reader, this is available to both North American and European consumers.
Here are the official specs:
- Size: 4.7″ x 7.4″ x 0.3″ / 118 x 188 x 8.5 mm
- Weight: 6.13 ounces / 174 g (battery included)
- Screen: 6″ E Ink® screen, 600×800 pixels, 166 dpi, B&W, 4 grayscale
- Sound: 2.5mm stereo headphone plug
- Controls: 11 buttons (No touchscreen)
- Battery: Rechargeable built-in Li-Polymer battery (1000 mAh) giving 8,000 page flips
- Processor: 200MHz
- ROM memory: 8 MB
- RAM memory: 16 MB
- Storage memory: 64 MB Data Flash
- Formats: HTML, Txt, PRC, PalmDoc, PDF, Secured MobipocketTM
- Connectivity: USB Client (v2.0), Mini USB B connector, SD Card slot
The Cybook eReading Device is now available in a Deluxe version, which comes with a USB Charger, cover, 2 GB SD memory card, Stereo earphones and an extra batter.
Bookeen Cybook Gen3 is available at Amazon and Pixmania.com.