Bill Buxton's Notes

This was Sony's second generation e-reader, and the first to be released in North America (2006). It employs an e-ink reflective display. One interacts with it using buttons along the bottom of the screen as well as a few other controls below the buttons.

One of the challenges of the design was the discrepancy between the orientation of the numbered physical controls (horizontal), and the virtual ones along the right margin (vertical) which they controlled.

There were other issues too, which became clear with the release of the Amazon Kindle. Prime among these was that the success of an e-reader was not dependent on its quality as a reading device alone. Rather, the ability to access and perform other functions associated with the activity of reading, such as looking up words, buying books, making annotations, was also important.

The underlying lesson here is that it is risky to think of devices in terms of a specific task, rather than something that supports, and augments the experience of, an activity, and even that, within the larger ecosystem in which that activity is situated.

Bill Buxton
April 2011

Device Details

Company: Sony | Year: 2006 | Original Price (USD): $300