Following my earlier post from the Mobile World Congress, another gadget update...

Philips spun off Polymer Vision in 2006, and February last year the company announced that their first product would be the Readius. At this year's show, the company demonstrated the final commercial product for the first time. Slated for a "mid-08" launch, it will be very interesting to observe how retail categorises the device, and its rate of uptake.

Is it a phone? No. Is it an eBook; well yes I guess, but not in the same vein as Amazon's Kindle or the Reader Digital Book from Sony.

The Readius measures just 75mm x 21mm x 15mm closed, sufficiently compact to slip in a breast pocket or a handbag's phone pocket with ease. Well, unless you store your phone there of course. But the screen (aka epaper) has to be seen to be believed. It is so un-screen like that I assumed at first I was looking at a mock-up! It's pretty damn fascinating, and considerably more akin to the pleasure and ease of reading paper than looking at a LCD.

If this device succeeds, if this new gadget format lifts off, how will it change people's media consumption habits? It definitely lends itself to longer text than you normally associate with consuming on a mobile phone. I wouldn't, for example, want to read anything much longer than 400-500 words on a phone of any variety currently on the market, but I can see I'd be happy to peruse essays and white papers running to 4000-5000 words on the Readius. Not quite books though.

In a world of increasingly short and fragmented info bits and bytes (SMS, micro-blogging a la Twitter et al, RSS headlines), perhaps the Readius will lead the recovery of more deliberate and deep information communication and absorption.