My SONY ebook reader

When I say ‘my Sony ebook reader’, I actually don’t own one yet. The one I’m using now is a Sony property belonging to the DUCKLING project. Anyway, I ‘have’ an ebook in my care, and it is in my drawer right now.

First impressions: it’s light, thin, and most importantly good looking and fashionable, with its brown leather cover. I watched a You Tube video the other day about SONY ebook reader PRS-700 (a higher specification model, mine is PRS-505). The SONY 700 looks just cool! It has got new features such as:

· Disconnect with the cover
· Easy change text size from S, M, L, XL to XXL (in PRS-505, three options from S,M to L)
· Search, highlight, and add notes to the highlighted text
· Built in LED – easy read in the evening

More importantly, it has got the touch-screen display so that you can zoom in, move, turn a page with a pen or finger. However, these new and enhanced features don’t come cheap! A SONY 700 costs more than £300, almost doubled the price of a SONY 505!

I read my ebook on my train journey. The e-ink does work better under strong sunshine and dark condition (when the train was under a bridge or went through a tunnel) than reading from a laptop screen. The interface is quite easy. Turning page, changing text size, and changing menu are simple. I even found my favourite detective book written by Agatha Christie on my ebook reader! However, when the story was just about getting interesting, I got a message from my ebook, “to continue reading, visit www.waterstones.com/eBooks to download the full version.”

I experimented with some PDF files on my ebook reader later on. It was easy and all PDFs display appropriately on my ebook, including one with Chinese characters. However, one of my colleagues Nichola found some problems when handling PDFs on ebook. She found that when you create a PDF from a original Word file, you need to complete the ‘document properties’ box, and must complete the ‘Author’ and ‘Title’ fields as a minimum, otherwise you will have a meaningless display of your PDF on the ebook. I didn’t come across this trouble. It might be because I’m using Word 2007, whereas when you use Word 97-03, you might get this frustration.

Another drawback I found with the ebook is that it doesn’t allow you to create a separate folder containing your PDFs, so all the PDFs that I uploaded mixed with those pre-loaded books. As a student, I might want to separate my studying material from my books for entertainment or just to sort my study materials in different categories. No doubt these features will improve with time once their utility goes beyond basic reading.

Ming Nie 10 April 2009

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4 Comments

  1. bdra

     /  April 15, 2009

    How would both e-books compare with the Toshiba Netbook (£223), featuring a 9-inch screen readable in direct sunlight?

    Ale

    Reply
  2. witthaus

     /  April 16, 2009

    Hi Ale

    Good question. I have an earlier version of the Toshiba you refer to. While it obviously has many more functions than the Sony e-book reader (It’s a computer, after all!), it’s the Sony that goes everywhere with me, for the following reasons:

    1) The Sony is lighter and thinner – fits easily into my handbag.
    2) The Sony batter lasts for ages, whereas my Toshiba’s only lasts a few hours.
    3) As a result of no. 2, I don’t need to carry a heavy, bulky charger cable with me everywhere – this is an underestimated nuisance with laptops/ netbooks.
    4) The Sony opens up almost immediately, so I can snatch 5 minutes’ reading time while I’m waiting for a bus or a train. Can’t do that with a computer!

    Small differences, but sometimes it’s the small ones that make the difference…

    Gabi

    PS I still use my Toshiba for conferences and lengthy meetings where I want to take notes, and it’s great for that.

    Reply
  3. bdra

     /  April 20, 2009

    Good points, with which I mostly agree, Gabi. However, the difference in price between both devices is negligible. The new Toshiba netbook boasts around 7 hours of battery life (my similarly-sized two-year-old Sony Vaio offers 11 hours and is very light in weight).

    I fully agree with the nuisance of carrying chargers… but then you are running the risk of carrying both devices (each with its charger, perhaps) to the lengthy meetings and conferences that are part and parcel of academic life: the e-reader to snatch 5 minutes’ reading while waiting for the bus, and the netbook to do everything else! Looks like it’s a question of ‘fit-for-purpose-ness’ and choice.

    So if you have a budget of £200, which device would you go for?

    Ale

    Reply
  4. witthaus

     /  April 20, 2009

    Hmm Ale… you’ve almost convinced me…

    Gabi

    Reply

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