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Sony eBook Readers
Why can you never find a product that has all the features you want!
Time: 12/26/08 2:42:28 am
Tags: Sony, eBook Readers, Technology [4], DRM [4], Books [4], Design [5], Review [10], Product Quality [18]
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To start off, Merry XMas ya’ll! (And Happy Holidays, of course! [I’m actually Jewish by heritage for those who don’t know me personally ^_^; ] )


I decided to get an eBook reader as a present for someone for the holidays, so I tried out both the Sony PRS-505 and Sony PRS-700. I decided on the Sony readers for now as they can handle most, if not all, of the main eBook formats. Here are the important things I discovered out about both.


Sony PRS-505

This is a minor upgrade to the first eBook reader that Sony released in September of 2006 (the PRS-500), and costs $300. It works as it should and is advertised, and does everything I’d really want from a basic eBook reader.


Sony PRS-700

This is a major update to Sony’s eBook line, released in September of 2008, and costs $400. The most important new feature to this is the touch screen, which has some major pros and cons.


The main comparison points that I found between the 505 and 700 are as follows.
  • I immediately noticed upon comparing the two how much lighter and more reflective the screen is on the 700, making it much harder to read. After some quick research, I found the following here:
    Sony added a touch layer on top of the e-ink display and embedded LED side-lights into the frame that surrounds the display. Clever. But this comes at the expense of contrast and glare, and the Sony Reader PRS-700 looks more like a grayscale notebook screen than an eBook reader. The glare isn’t nearly as bad as the average PDA or gloss notebook display-- it’s on par with matte finish notebook displays.
    As far as I’m concerned, very unfortunately, this makes the product completely worthless as far as an eBook reader. You might as well just use an LCD display instead of an eInk display for the quality and price!
  • The touch screen (that comes with a pointer pen too) itself is a spectacular design, and would make the device far better than the 505 if it didn’t ruin the readability of the device. The ability to navigate the device is much easier, quicker, and more intuitive due to the touch screen interface, which also allows for a lot of additional functionality including a virtual keyboard and selecting text.
  • The 700 “turns pages” about twice as fast, due to the processor being about twice as powerful.
  • The 700 also has many more zoom levels by default, which is a big plus for people who need the eBook devices specifically for bad eyesight. The “Large” zoom level on the 500 just doesn’t always satisfy what is needed in some eBooks, but the XL and XXL on the 700 definitely go that extra step. I was told by a rep at the Sony Style store that there is a way to download larger fonts to the system (possibly through the eBook files themselves), but I have not fully researched into this yet.
  • The 700 allows for searching for text now because of the virtual keyboard. I find this to be an incredibly useful feature for a book reader.
  • The 700 also allows you to takes notes and make annotations on pages due to the virtual keyboard.
  • The 700 has side lights that can be turned on, which is kind of neat, but this is really just an extra luxury.

One unfortunate annoyance of both devices is that you cannot use them while they are plugged into the computer (for charging via the USB interface or uploading new books).


After playing with both, I’d definitely recommend the 505 for now. If they could fix the contrast problem with the 700, it would be perfect and well worth the price.

I’d like to try the Amazon Kindle too, but their stock of it is so far backordered, I don’t feel like dealing with it for the time being. When I checked around the 23rd of this month, they had a 13 week wait to have the product shipped to you! The Kindle is also, unfortunately, more DRM laden with proprietary formats. This can be bypassed though.


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