My choice for best gadget of 2008 is the Sony eBook Reader. What? An eBook reader?! You must think I’m crazy. This is the year of the iPhone 3G, T-Mobile G1 and Android, countless TV’s, Blu-Ray players, streaming Netflix and this guy chooses an eBook reader?! Yes. I did. Here’s why.
I still like to read and do so frequently. Furthermore, I fly a lot for work and it’s great to be able to slip a small device like the Reader into my laptop bag and give me access to 50+ books for my trip. Granted, the selection isn’t as robust as Amazon’s Kindle store, but the Sony Reader will read any non-DRM eBook opening your options to other stores besides Sony’s own offering.
Speaking of the Kindle, there’s no denying that the Kindle has more features with its built-in 3G data connection to download books and news via RSS, but this is where I feel like simplicity reigns supreme. I have an iPhone to access the internet on the go and even though I love reading I rarely buy a book on a whim while on the road. The Sony Reader gets amazing battery life, costs less, and looks great. It also comes with 100 free classic books pre-formatted to the Reader’s specs. These titles are public domain and freely available, but the formatting helps. It’s a great way to get a nice collection of classics that everyone should read in one quick purchase.
eBook’s won’t be mainstream for a while, but I like having all that space on my bookshelf for my DVDs and video games. Sure, there are a few things it doesn’t do well like being able to quickly refer back to a previous page or skip ahead to find out where a chapter ends without a bunch of page turns, but the electronic ink screen is great. If you’ve never seen one in person you should imagine looking at a page in a book that just happens to be displayed by an electronic device. Sure, the page isn’t white, but the black text on gray background is easily legible and easy on the eyes, unlike LCD screens. It doesn’t have a backlight so you can still have that authentic reading by light experience.
You all should read more books, but at least have the decency to go high-tech with your literature. I may have the previous year’s model, but I got it this year and it’s still my favorite gadget of 2008.