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THE CUTTING EDGE GIFT GUIDE

The Latest Toys for High-Tech Trendsetters

November 30, 1998|JONATHAN GAW

It's light, portable and has the capacity to carry about 10 novels. The Rocket eBook from Palo Alto-based NuvoMedia Inc. is the most evolved attempt yet at the digital book, and it mimics many of the assets of real books while adding digital benefits.

Besides portability, eBooks also offer immediacy: You can download a digital book from Barnesandnoble.com, the online bookstore, straight into your personal computer, which acts as a library. Then just transfer the digitized books to the eBook. No more waiting for the UPS truck.

The characters are fairly well displayed with a backlight, and the eBook has a built-in dictionary, which can look up a word at the touch of a stylus. Don't like the font? Change it to whatever you want. You can place an electronic bookmark easily and even scribble (or, more accurately, type) notes in the pages. You can also search through a book just like any other digitized document.

But the eBook is also $499, which, one could argue, can buy a lot of real books that don't require a personal computer to be read. Also, the digital books being downloaded cost about the same as the paperback versions, reducing the incentive to make the shift. Only 100 titles are now offered, although the company said publishers will add about 25 books a week.

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