Sony Alpha Reader

This is a first in a infinite series (or until the aReader breaks down) of my experiences with Sony‘s aReader. I have been given an opportunity to test the aReader by a good friend and I have started this blog post to record my experiences. First of all, I have had the aReader for about a month now.

I’ll start with what I experienced today. When I opened the aReader, the battery was at 50%. I was a bit confused as I didn’t touch it after I recharged it completely. I thought the E Ink display didn’t consume any power when information was not updated. A bi-stable nematic display really should not consume any power if no information is being updated. Maybe it is not the case with the entire subsystem in the aReader. So, I connected the aReader to my 17″ Dell notebook via USB. I did read or hear somewhere that I could trickle charge the aReader via USB but only if there is some battery power left. Now once I did connect the USB, I could do nothing else on the aReader. This must be changed. I do not know of any other devices that I have that do not allow me to use it while being charged, via USB or directly plugged in.

Prior to plugging the aReader to my 17″ Dell Vista notebook, I tried to read a page or two on it. It was 7:45pm PST with only a little bit of light coming in through the window. It was quite readable and my wife agreed. This is quite remarkable as it required little to no power for the display that allowed me to read without much ambient light. The bright display on my Dell was quite a bit more readable but it was drawing considerably more power.

I will continue to update this blog as I experience the aReader more and as I remember what I liked and disliked from the prior month.


After fully recharging the aReader using the power adapter, I checked to see that it was 100% charged and read a few sentences from the Bible that I downloaded. I put it down and started to read the book Crunchy Cons (borrowed from the public library) and after 10 minutes checked the aReader again and I was a bit surprised. You see, there are four bars indicating power: all four bars in black means that it is fully charged. Well, after just 10 minutes of the aReader showing a page (without changing of information on the screen), the battery came down by one bar already (three left). I think there is something wrong with the power consumption.

Update (2007.07.20)…

I think my aReader may have died. It does not want to “boot”, even after recharging it over night.

Update (2007.07.23)…

A list of fixes that I would like to see (there’s a lot to be written here):

  • The cover. The cover is affixed to the aReader via a big, ummm, clasp-like-thing similar to a DVD case (?). It requires that you push in a bit by pressing on the screen itself. This is not a good design. You need to take the unit out of the case to reset it with a pin and in my case I had to do this several times. Although the screen does not give much at all, I don’t think pressure on the screen every time I put the case back on is a good thing. I would propose a slide-in case.
  • Directional button. When the cover is closed, this directional button can be pushed by the slightest pressure on the cover. Although this doesn’t do anything when the aReader is turned off, it’s just not a good design. The button should be recessed lower than the case of the aReader so that it cannot be accidentally pushed.

[tags]Sony, Electronic Paper Display, Ebook Reader, E Ink[/tags]

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