Image: Brijesh Patel
September 04 2010
I suppose because I wear tweed suits, smoke cigars and ride around London on a bicycle that looks as if I stole it from a Church of England parson in 1932 (often performing all three anachronistic activities simultaneously), people believe that I am only just getting the hang of Mr Alexander Graham Bell’s telephonic communication device and Mr John Logie Baird’s television method of transmitting moving pictures into one’s own drawing room. I am frequently asked whether I eschew the keyboard in favour of pen and ink, to which I respond, “Only when I can find the finest quality swan quills, otherwise I make do with Mr Gates’s Windows operating system.”
Of course the truth is rather more prosaic and I am as much in thrall to technology as the next man, and while I seem to be happily immune to the pathological hunger for the latest telephone, I do have a weakness for Sony products. Shortly before Christmas I bought myself the very thin Vaio which claims eight hours’ battery life – and if you turn it on, switch the wireless off and leave it running, it does take more than eight hours to run out of juice; however, to achieve this feat it is necessary not to touch the keyboard, or indeed to do anything with it at all.
But it is another device, the Sony Reader, that is preoccupying me. The technical spec I leave to my esteemed colleague, Technopolis columnist Jonathan Margolis. However, I have got rather used to this electronic library since my wife gave it to me a couple of years ago, and then the other day I lost it on an aeroplane to Venice. Remarkably I was reunited with it on my return journey, although the pleasure of reunion was soured by damage incurred when it fell – bits of the innards were poking out and the screen had the irritating habit of working only on the right side.
Of course I have resorted to the method of consuming literature perfected by Caxton and Gutenberg, but I miss the reassuring physical presence of the Reader. In a relatively short time it had become one of the small constellations of electronic devices whose presence I find comforting when travelling. The others are: an iPod that I seldom listen to; a pair of Bang & Olufsen headphones that look smart but that are a bit fiddly to slot into the aural canal (which is fine as I hardly ever plug them into the iPod); a Sony camera; the aforementioned Vaio which I hammer away at, much as a sort of electronic Remington typewriter; and the now deceased Reader. I suppose they function as hi-tech talismans, little bits of technology imprinted with my personality, a virtual piece of home to take with me wherever I go.
I am now left with the agonising decision of whether to go for a Kindle or to stick with Sony. I fear getting an iPad purely on the grounds that I will enjoy it too much and become another Apple zealot.