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Check out the U.S. Navy's weird new e-reader

Check out the U.S. Navy's weird new e-reader
Photo courtesy of Verge

When Navy boys ship out, there's not a lot of room for amusement, let alone a stack of books next to their bunk. Some ships and submarines have miniature libraries where they can check out books, but that's about it.

Tablets aren't allowed because of the security precautions. It would be a simple matter for spies to hijack an iPad camera. Not to mention that finding a strong enough Wi-Fi signal to download titles would be a challenge unto itself.

But the Navy seems to have solved the need for books and e-readers with a pre-loaded gadget that needs neither Wi-Fi, an SD card slot, nor a security check.

Meet NeRD, the U. S. Navy's solution to e-readers.

"The Navy’s General Library Program just announced the NeRD, or Navy eReader Device. It’s an E Ink tablet that resembles a Kindle, except it has no internet capability, no removable storage, and no way to add or delete content.

The Navy’s library program has ebooks and audiobooks available online for service members and their families. The e-reader came about after they requested the same access on ships. "Since we have the digital product available while sailors are on shore, we wanted to find a way to get digital accessibility while sailors are on ships," says Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the library program. "They can keep 300 books that would have taken up their entire library locker in their pocket now."

The Navy is making 365 devices at first, with more to follow. The Navy plans to send about five to each submarine to be shared between multiple people. Each reader is preloaded with 300 books that will never change. The selection includes modern fiction like Tom Clancy and James Patterson, who are popular in the Navy, as well as nonfiction, the classics, and "a lot of naval history," says Carrato."

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