Tuesday, January 26, 2010

E-Reader Review

My Father-in-Law mentioned recently that he'd gotten a new e-reader, so when hubby-Eric and I visited for the weekend, I looked it over. And I've got to say that he choose very well.

I was impressed by the first edition Kindle that Granny showed me a couple of years ago, less impressed by the second generation that dropped a couple of the features that impressed me about the first (loss of the SD slot was a killer for me). But I was always a little bothered by the fact that the Kindle is a wireless device as well as an e-book reader. It's not a strict reader, it's more. And some people like that. But I've got a HUGE collection of legal ebooks in various formats, including text and PDF, that I want to be able to read on an e-book reader. As a result, I care much less about the ability to purchase books on-the-fly, and much more about simply being able to read what I want on the reader I buy. The Kindle did NOT meet my expectations in that area.

Enter the Sony Reader Touch:

Sony E-Reader Touch

It's sleek, small, and full of just the right features for an e-reader. My FiL's device was about the size of a hardcover, but MUCH thinner. The controls are really simple. Five buttons allow you to page back, page forward, go Home, change font size, and access other options. The touch screen allows you to page forward by touching it, and you can select options on the screen by touch. A stylus is included for making notes and text selection. And this thing allows just about any format ebook I want to read (ePub, BBeB Book, PDF, TXT, RTF, and Word). And it has a nifty SD slot alongside a Memory Stick PRO Duo slot. The main transfer method AND power source is by USB cable, so my FiL didn't even notice the SD slot until I pointed it out.

I will mention here that I didn't play with the connection software at all, so I don't know how well it syncs up with a computer. I know that my FiL had no troubles with it, but beyond that I have no first-hand experience in it, so I can't review that bit. Sorry.

The main downsides would be the lack of wireless access (which I actually consider an upside!) and the greyscale display. Still no color. The price doesn't please me... at $300 it's still too rich for my blood. But give it a couple of years and maybe we'll get color screens (comic books!) and a lower price and I'll be able to buy one of these suckers and read my ebooks on the go. But even with the flaws, I would love to have one of these guys. So if anyone feels like giving me a great present... or if someone from Sony is reading and wants me to do a review of the connection software as well... *grin*


trinalin said...

Neat review. I'd be interested in reviewing some of these different eBook Readers out there myself. The new Nook by B&N, for one. (I'm still waiting on them to get ePub compatibility for the eReader software they now own - that's what I use on my phone.) The Sony one you got to toy with. Even the Kindle would be neat to try.

But I think I'll be sticking with my phone for now (a Windows Mobile device). I've got a few purchased eBooks from eReader & Fictionwise (before B&N bought 'em) and some I've converted to that format. I've tried a few free eBook reader aps on my phone but I still come back to eReader. I know how to convert text files to their proprietary format (yay for a neat plug-in for OO.o) but I'd rather just use ePub. (Project Gutenberg is a friend of mine. Heh.)

Whenever they can get over the format wars, they may have something that people will want to use. Until then, I don't think eBook reader appliances will "Make It."

ttallan said...

My cousin bought a Sony eReader. I bought a Kindle 2 (rather, I got one for an Xmas gift). We sat and compared them. We both agreed that the Kindle screen was superior, having less glare. I don't think the touch functionality adds very much to the reading experience. I tried the little drawing program on the Sony, which I thought would be fun, but it was terrible.

There is a free program called Calibre which manages your ebooks on your computer as well as translates different file types to make them readable on your device (though I'm not sure if it can take a proprietary format like the Kindle's .azw and make it readable on the Sony). So it's no trouble to connect my Kindle to my Mac and load up eBooks from other sources than the Kindle store.

I am in love with my Kindle. Even more exiting, I have even found my first graphic novel for it (Hope Larson's Salamander Dream), which I didn't think could be done yet!

Tegan said...

I'd love to compare a bunch of e-readers head-to-head, including the iPad just announced. But I think the technology is just going to keep getting better. So I suspect I'll be able to find something I like when I can finally afford one.

I thought the Sony was great for just being an e-reader. The Kindle is so much more, and in some ways much less (Amazon really killed themselves when they revealed they could remotely delete books on your Kindle).

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm sure I'll get one when the hardware is inexpensive and it's the product (newspaper, book) I'd be paying for. Until then - hello, print.