Policy: Technology

U.S. Navy discovers e-Readers, thinks they're just for nerds

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Ashe Schow,Navy,Technology,Amazon

Is it 1998?

It must be to the U.S. Navy because it’s introducing its own e-Reader for nautical service members, cleverly titled the Navy e-Reader Device – or NeRD.

But if you were hoping for a Navy competitor to the Amazon Kindle or the Nook, you’re out of luck.

“You can’t download additional content. You can’t take the content that’s already on there off,” said Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the Navy general library program. “So we’re very excited about it.”

So what kind of content is on this device that you can’t modify?

Luckily, no service manuals are taking up space on this device. But it does have nearly all the books from Chief of Naval Operation Adm. Jonathan Greenert's reading list, which includes titles you'll definitely want to read while on a ship - like “Neptune's Inferno” and “Wake of the Wahoo.” Carrato also said it had “all different genres,” including science fiction, fantasy and non-fiction.

NeRD supporters boast that it can be used under the sea, presumably for when divers need to take a break and teach U.S. naval history to singing crustaceans. One might think they mean it works in submarines, but Kindles work in submarines, too, so it appears they literally mean strapping on a diving tank and going for a relaxing read among the sharks and jellyfish.

The NeRD also has no cameras and no Wi-Fi, which is best for thwarting would-be Edward Snowdens or Anthony Weiners, no doubt.

The NeRD currently has 300 books stored on it, but can hold a lot more, according to Carrato. The Navy is still testing the browsing features.

There’s no delivery date fleet-wide yet – the next step is testing the product with small surface ships sometime in the next quarter (hopefully).

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