Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sony 505 eReader review

As I might have mentioned a few dozen times, I am the proud borrower of a Sony eBook device, courtesy of Sony and of Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Here's my review so far:

I was picked for this test drive because I said, “I don't think so. Convince me.”

And then I was picked. And then I got excited.

First reaction: my Sony 505 eReader has a brown cover. I'm so not into brown.

It has a gray screen. I'm much more into gray.

It's a bit heavy. More heavy and solid than a paperback. Lighter and more streamlined than a hardback, though. It's a tad awkward too, because the cover is pretty lightweight compared to the actual reader, so it's always off-balance.

I also have this nightmare vision of my toddler-who-throws-things getting her hands on it. That's a lotta bucks straight down the tube if she does. I keep it in a high drawer.

The instructions. Oy. I read the first part of them – they fold out to cover approximately the same square footage as my house – and have winged it since then with not too much trouble. Someone had to tell me about the “history” feature where you can see the last few pages you've been on, in case you get lost.

I had downloaded the ebook Library software from the Sony website before I got the reader, because I wanted to feel like I was doing something. Apparently, this was the right thing to do because I got the most recent version and others said they ended up loading the software and then loading the updates.

The setup wasn't hard other than the software's burning desire to not take me to the correct page when I tried to link my eReader to the Sony eReader store account – remedied when I complained to the SB eReader group and they told me to go to “My Account” and then click and click and click and click.

Back to the screen:
1.I need a bit more contrast than it offers. It's OK in full daylight, but by lamplight it's a bit hard on my eyes, which are already not so good.
2.There's a lag of a second or two between when I push the button and when it turns the page and there's a flicker as it loads the new page. You know how electronic gamers don't blink as much as normal when they're really into their game? That's how I read. The flickering and lag mess me up. I've taken to turning the page before I get to the end of the page and blinking then. I'm still perfecting the timing.
3.There are three text sizes on the 505: minuscule, smaller than comfortable, and Beginner Books. I generally end up reading in Beginner Books size (Fox, Socks, Knox, Box) due to the aforementioned contrast problem. This means that in a 220 page Harlequin I have the text on approximately 440 screens, sometimes with just one or two words on a screen. I think I'm getting a repetitive stress injury in my thumbs. Oh, and the formatting of the text gets messed up as soon as you start zooming in, smashing paragraphs of dialog all into one long paragraph.

Buying and downloading books hasn't been too hard. I've bought books from the Sony store (Yay Harlequin gift code!) and from Samhain without a hitch. I had a long argument with the library website, but that was between me and my library and once it was resolved, moving those books onto the eReader was simple. I'm still arguing with the library because I can't 'return' the books before they expire and it will only let me check out ten at a time. I read a lot, what can I say? I haven't downloaded from the Gutenberg project, either, though I might if I think of a title in the public domain that I want to read.

My library doesn't have a whole lot of new releases that I want to read in compatible format and I get the vast majority of my books from the library, so this is a sticking point. I do buy books, but don't have a lot of shelf space and I like being to take the ones I don't want to keep to the used book store and get credit there.

I'm trying to keep an open mind, because this is exactly why I didn't think I could be convinced.

I haven't tried to convert any files from one thing to another, other than saving the book I'm working on as a .pdf and then loading it on. I'm not sure what software I would use and if it's always possible without getting technical and borderline illegal.

So to sum up:
1)awkward and flickery but I'm getting used to it
2)fragile and expensive
3)can't get the library books I want
4)really cool toy and I can start a new book right away, no lag time

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