The Sony Reader, in case you haven't heard about it yet, is a device about the size and shape of an average book. Weighing a little over 8 ounces, it's basically a hand-held screen on which you can read a book page by page. The device, which will go on sale this April, uses a technology called "E ink" to display book pages in a form which Sony claims comes closer than ever to the experience of actually reading off the paper page.
Those who saw it at the big gadget fest in Las Vegas recently marveled at the readability of the device and seemed to agree with Sony's claim. There are no electronic jitters, no backlit screen (you need light to see the Sony Reader, just like any book) and therefore, such is the claim, none of the tired eyes and headaches common to staring at PC screens and other devices.
E-ink is a cool bit of micro-technology -- microscopic white and black ink capsules suspended in a thin layer of clear fluid beneath the surface of the device's screen, which is in effect a blank page until electrically charged. A negative (black) or positive (white) electric charge brings the proper capsules to the surface of the "paper" to print the page you are reading. When you have finished that page, you press a button and "turn" to the next. It's kind of like "Etch-A-Sketch goes to MIT."