I need to preface this review by stating that I am not an expert on e-readers. I may run the Self-Publishing Review, but I’ve never actually put my hands on a Kindle. But as I’m getting an increasing number of submissions via PDF it’s of course necessary to have an e-reader of my own. This is core to why I chose the Sony PRS-505 E-Reader over the Kindle. For the most part I am using it as an overgrown PDF reader. So Kindle’s wireless capability did not really matter to me, as purchasing ebooks is not my main concern. That may sound a little unfaithful from someone who’s touted ebooks as being the future of publishing, but given the amount of reading I now have to do for the site, I don’t actually have a lot of time to read a lot of other stuff, as reading something else seems fairly unfaithful to those waiting for a review.
So basically I’m using the e-reader for books that I’m sent for this site and books that can be found for free download online – which I see as a kind of variant on self-publishing, even if the book’s traditionally published. It’s a more progressive model of publishing, so these should be explored as well.
So that’s the prelude. The verdict: the e-reader is both amazing and not-so amazing. It has a Pong quality – in that it is great technology that may look silly in another five years. People may one day be aghast about just how slowly the Sony e-reader turns pages. It can take a second or two to go from one page to the other. That’s a fair delay – and if you’re facing a user who’s predisposed to think paper books are eternally superior, this certainly isn’t going to win any converts.
The same goes for scrolling through the titles in your library, accessing utilities, and so on. The e-reader’s menus are basically set up like an iPod, except the wheel on an iPod is far superior and clicking the buttons on the reader also has a slight delay. Sony aimed to fix this problem by adding touch-screen capability for its 700-series e-reader, but by all accounts the touch screen does not have the same e-ink paper quality of the 505, so the 505 may be superior, as this is the main selling point for this reader.
And Sony’s e-ink technology is certainly a selling point: it’s an absolute pleasure to read. I would even make the argument that it’s more soothing to read than some paper books – especially books printed on harsh white paper. It can’t be seen in dim light, but then neither can books. As I spend most of my day staring at the screen of a Macbook, I absolutely couldn’t bear to read books on the computer screen as well, and I look forward to reading books on this screen.
Another mark against, however, is that the screen is too small – it should at least be as large as a standard large-size paperback book. But it’s more the size of a supermarket novel, with fewer words on the page. Hopefully these issues will get ironed out and the perfect e-reader will emerge.
Right now, the Sony e-reader can be summed up as: good enough. It’s far from perfect, but it gets the job done. At $100 cheaper than the Kindle, and the ability to open different formats, it’s the better e-reader bargain on the market.