Let me state my opinion right up front so you don’t have to slog through the pictures or the features if you aren’t interested. This device is for readers who are technologically savvy and want the best screen available for reading. For the others, I would suggest getting Ebookwise or a PDA for now. There will be other e ink devices in the future, maybe even from Sony, that will be a better buy than the Sony Reader.
Click on the “more” for the review.
- Size and Form Factor
The brighter or lighter your ambient surroundings, the better the display. The page is not a true white, but rather a very light gray. The more light you get and the better the contrast between the background and the text of the book.
Outside, the device is simply remarkable. You would not believe it was an electronic device. But let’s be honest, how many of us spend a great deal of time reading outdoors?
- Night time reading
The less ambient light, such as at night, the harder it is to read. Because there is no built in light, the Reader requires either a lamp or a booklight. I have yet to find a booklight that works. The booklight’s bulbs make a pinpoint reflection that is irritating to the eye. You have to hold the Reader "just so" to avoid that pinpoint reflection. It’s not easy doing that for 300 pages. A regular book doesn’t have this problem because the page absorbs the light instead of reflecting it.
If you leave your lamp on to the irritation of your spouse or SO, you must lay toward the light. My 60 watt lamp did not sufficiently light up the page if I was laying on my side away from the lamp or if I was laying on my back. I have not read the Sony Reader at night this entire week for more than 10 minutes.
- Battery life
This is the absolute best thing about the Sony Reader, even more so than the screen. It’s the perfect size, shape and form. It’s a beautiful looking device. One of the things that I dislike about the Ebookwise is the hump on the left side. My neighbor who has the Ebookwise thought that the size and look of the Sony Reader was more compelling than the screen.
The controls are not very intuitive and have a bit of a learning curve. There are two page buttons that allow you to move backward and forward while reading a book. There is a size button that toggles between S, M, and L font sizes.
There is also a joystick that you can use to maneuver between links and the Sony’s Table of Contents. It does not, however, allow you to move forward or backward in the book which I think it should. I am right handed and tend to hold a book with my left hand and turn with my right. I felt the Sony Reader should have had a button or control on the right side which allowed you to turn the page. Alas, the only page controls are on the left.
By holding down the page forward or backward buttons, you can go forward or backward 10 pages. Sony also has 10 buttons on the bottom of the screen which you can use to navigate the Table of Contents or to advance 10% of the book. There is also a small “mark” button that allows you to insert a bookmark.
I have not had to charge the Sony Reader this entire week. Of course, I have yet to read more than one book on the device but I have had it on to play with it, load books, look at Manga for Ned, etc. I would say the battery life is pretty impressive. For comparison, I have to charge my IPAQ at least once a day.
Sony Reader does NOT read htmls. At all. You must first convert the htmls into RTFs or PDFs in order for the books to be readable. No conversion software that I have downloaded makes for a decent readable book for the Sony Reader. The best way I have found to convert htmls is to open the book in a browser program like Internet Explorer, Select All the text, and then paste into MS Word and then Save. In order for the title and author to appear, you then have to change the document properties. This is why I said in the prefatory paragraph that you need to be somewhat tech savvy to be able to use the Sony Reader.
Additionally, none of the PDF files that I have downloaded from Ellora’s Cave or Samhain were readable. Even at the largest font, the text was too tiny to read. Other than copying and pasting the text from an html into Word and saving as an RTF, I am not sure how you would read the books offered by online, epublishers. To me this makes little sense.
I don’t know why Sony wouldn’t go to Ellora’s Cave or Samhain or Loose ID or whomever and say "hey, we’ve got this e reading device. What do you guys think." But what do I know.
It comes with 64 MB of built in memory. Each Sony Connect book runs just under 1 MB so you can probably fit about 70 books on the device itself. The Reader accepts Sony branded memory sticks and SD cards. The challenge with the SD card is that Sony does not allow a file, subfile, subfile structure. Thus, if you have 1000 ebooks on your device, it will display all 1000 consecutively rather than by author or genre as you may have them organized on your SD Card.
The only easy way to get books onto the Sony Reader is to purchase books from the Sony connect store. This is a separate piece of software that comes on a CD with your Sony Reader box. I heard that a download link existed but could not find it. Sony makes buying books a little easier by giving away $50 worth of books to any person who registers and authenticates a Reader before the end of the year.
You can also view pictures (in 4 color grayscale) and listen to mp3s.
Of course, this would be great if Sony actually had content that you wanted to read. There are so few romance books in its store that I haven’t been able to spend my $50.00! Romance New releases included 2004 title Dirty Little Lies by Connie Lane and 2004 Kiss of Fate by Mary Jo Puntey.
In the New Added section of the Contemporary Romance I found Nicholas Sparks, Janet Dailey, Eileen Godge and Lisa Kleypas. Suzanne Brockmann’s Gone Too Far was listed in the Recent Releases but not Into the Storm. Morrigan’s Cross was available but not Dance of the Gods. Erin McCarthy’s cute book, "You Don’t Know Jack" was no where to be found.
I am guessing that Sony has no idea what is a romance, what is a contemporary romance and when the individual book was published.
Plus, the store is slow. It takes several seconds for a search to be performed and then for the results to be displayed. The prices are high but acceptable. I already pay that for books at Powells.com and Fictionwise.com. Of course the books that I buy are MS Lit books which can be read on a variety of devices and are not dependent upon the Sony Reader’s success.
What do I mean by that? I mean, that if Sony Reader goes the way of the mini disc, people may be very sorry that they spent $$ on books they may never be able to read again.
This is a step in the right direction. The display is beautiful under the right lighting conditions but it is too expensive for a device that only does one thing – allow you to read books. If Sony lowered its price to around $200 and had a better way of handling htmls/pdfs, I think I could recommend it without hestitation.
At $350.00, with its faulty software, difficult controls, lack of an integrated light source, inability to read epublished books and other html books, it’s a buy only for those who are really are curious about it and who are willing to fiddle, fiddle, fiddle to get content on the reader.
Oh, and you have to be prepared to handle the constant mocking from your DH who calls it the $350 paperweight.