View Full Version : Kindle vs. Sony Readers


restonreader
11-21-2007, 10:17 AM
Sorry (in advance) for the long post, but I've been a user of the Sony products (500 and 505) for quite some time and yesterday my Kindle arrived. So I thought I'd share my impressions of the three devices. I'll first compare them as book readers and then later as gadgets.

As a pure reader, I've found there are three important factors in a device.

Screen. As many have reported, the screen of the Sony 505 is superior to the screen of the 500. It could be that my 500 is getting old, but in all light conditions my 505 is far better. Surprisingly (since they both use Vizplex), my Kindle isn't quite as good as my 505. My Kindle's screen is slightly less white when viewed under certain conditions. Please note that, in general, the Kindle's screen is quite good (much better than my 500), so the difference I'm seeing is comparatively small and could be just a manufacturing variance, or it could be some other difference -- maybe Amazon spec'd them with lower contrast for some reason? On a scale of 1-10, score 8 for the Sony 505; 7 for the Kindle; and 3 for 500.

Buttons. When I first got the 505, my biggest gripe was the buttons, in that I found them somewhat hard to press. I actually prefer the "dish button" (lower left) on the 500 to its counterpart on the 505. When I saw pictures of the Kindle, I thought my button problems would be solved. On the positive side, the Kindle's buttons are very easy to locate and press. The problem is, they are too easy. Let me explain. Because the page turn buttons on the Kindle run the full length of the device, I constantly find myself "bumping" the buttons and unintentionally triggering a page turn. This is most problematic when trying to pick up the device. There is no good way to grab it without hitting a button. This is NOT a problem when sitting and reading, but if you are moving around (or even shifting positions) it is an annoyance. Another problem with the Kindle's buttons is that because the right side page turn button runs the full length, it is harder to hold it in your right hand and read. Score 7 for 500; 5 for 505; 3 for the Kindle.

Cover. As with the buttons, I actually prefer the cover of the 500 to that of the 505 and the Kindle for two reasons. First the cover of the 500 is the easiest to open and fold under the device. This is important because it makes it easy to hold the device in the left hand and operate the page turn buttons. It is possible to do this with the 505, but the cover is stiffer and a bit bulkier. And the Kindle is bulkier yet (it is wedge shaped, so is thickest on the left). Moreover, the Kindle doesn't attach to the cover in any way, it just slides in (well, there is a little tab on the back, but it is ineffective). So when you attempt to read with it in the cover, it tends to slide out. When you try and push it back in, you cannot do so without accidently pushing the right side page turn button (UGH!!). Second, the cover of the 500 attached to the back of unit, which means that as you open and close the cover, it does not move with the device. This made attaching a book light easy. It is more difficult, but still doable, on the 505. With the Kindle, using the cover is such a bother, that I don't. However, this presents a problem when you need to attach a light (which I've not tried). Scores: 8 for the Sony 500; 5 for the Sony 505; 1 for the Kindle.


Other differences are that they use different fonts; the Sonys have more white space around the text on the page (the Kindle runs the text closer to the edge); the Kindle puts more spacing between the lines of text; the Sony gives you the current page number and total pages, the Kindle gives you "location" and a progress bar; page turns on the Kindle are slightly faster; and the Kindle has more font sizes.

Of course, everyone will view the relative importance of these items differently. For instance, while the 500 has better buttons and a better cover than the 505, I prefer the 505 because of the better screen. However, the difference between the screens of the Kindle and the 505 are slight enough, where it isn't a factor for me. But someone who likes to keep their device in the cover, and likes to hold the device in their left hand, would probably prefer one of the Sony devices.

Comparing the devices as "gadgets" is where the Kindle shines. The Sony devices are pure readers. The introduction of the keyboard and wireless access takes the Kindle to the next level. The keyboard, despite a noticeable typing lag, is still quite useful for searching books and the Amazon store. The scroll wheel is neat and useful for selecting items. And the ability to download items directly to the device will be particularly useful for travelers -- I can easily envision downloading newspapers and magazines while waiting for a plane/train, or if out of town.

What I cannot see, however, is subscribing to my favorite newspaper or magazine. I hate to say it, but I miss the graphics and the ability to glance at an article to determine if it is worth reading. Kindle based periodicals make this difficult. In fact, many of the articles are just headlines (without intro text), which don't always convey meaning. For example, here are some headlines (on my Kindle) from today's NYT:


Opponents of California Ballot Initiative Seek Inquiry
Deal is Reached in New Orleans Bias Case
How to Improve Your Prospects
Op-Ed Contributor: Make it an Early Bird
Plant Approved, With Carbon Study


Opening each of these, and then paging forward a screen or two, then jumping back to the TOC, is much more cumbersome than flipping through the physical paper (or even browsing the website). But again, if traveling, or just away from the house (think soccer game) this is a great alternative.

So, which device is best. As always, it depends. If you already have a 505 loaded up with the free Harvard Classics or with 100 free Classics from Sony, then you've got plenty to read and the best pure reader available today (IMHO). If, however, you like to gadgets and travel regularly, then maybe the Kindle is the device for you!

Good luck!

Greg G
11-21-2007, 02:43 PM
Thanks for the review! I have the Sony Reader 500 (broke the screen) & 505 and I like think the buttons on the 505 are way better than the ones on the 500. The 500 hacks allowed me to make the bottom right switch to be the page turns which I did like but I still like the 505 button placement better. I miss the clock hack on the 500. Does the Kindle show time?

-Greg

ranger_rick
11-21-2007, 02:57 PM
Thanks for the review as well. As a recent purchaser of the 505, I've been looking for a comparison such as this to help determine whether I should return the Sony (which I've enjoyed immensely so far, with a few nitpicks) and get the Kindle instead.

Based on your analysis, I think I'll be holding on to the Sony since the additional functionality of the Kindle is something I don't really need in my reading device.

restonreader
11-21-2007, 03:40 PM
Thanks for the review! I have the Sony Reader 500 (broke the screen) & 505 and I like think the buttons on the 505 are way better than the ones on the 500. The 500 hacks allowed me to make the bottom right switch to be the page turns which I did like but I still like the 505 button placement better. I miss the clock hack on the 500. Does the Kindle show time?

-Greg

I should have been clearer about the buttons on the 500 vs. 505. I also was using the hacks to enable the joystick to act as a page turner, which provides for page turning on both the left and right sides. I mostly held the 'book' in my left hand and liked the two small buttons on the middle left side.

The Kindle doesn't show the time when viewing a book or periodical; although you can see the time by going into Settings -- just like the Sony 505. No hacks for either yet. :disappoin

edsohsmith
11-21-2007, 03:50 PM
Great review, all I really have to add is to say thank you.

Portability and ergonomics sound good on the Sony, but I would miss the larger Amazon store and the scroll pad on the Kindle.

I still think I will buy the Sony reader instead of the Kindle. I think the gadget lust will wear off for the Kindle, and i do not want to reward Amazon's decision for closing off the bookstore/device.

kjn24
11-21-2007, 08:41 PM
I'm still on the fence. I'm impressed with the way that the prices on the 500 have dropped on ebay this week, putting them consistently within my price range. It sounds like within a few weeks, I may be able to get a used 505 on ebay for a decent price. For me, the only plus for the kindle is access to the books on amazon - but that's a *huge* plus. I'm almost sorry Amazon didn't come out with a 'bottom of the line' reader with the only perk being the book store.
In the mean time, I'm still on the fence - with a spike up my.........:rolleyes:
Kathy

DrMoze
11-21-2007, 11:41 PM
Thanks for the comparison. I have a Sony 500, might get a second ebook device (for the gf), and I've started thinking about a Kindle, based on the buzz. But I dunno if it would be for me. Any comments on my concerns/criteria below are welcome.

I like the Sony 500. Because I like to read books, and I do it more now than before. I imagine I'd like the 505 screen better. But reasons why I like the 500 include: light weight, thin, decent cover, excellent battery life (rarely recharge!), comfortable, left and right page flip buttons (with joystick hack), fast on (almost instant and very important!), good bookmark function (I might switch between 2 or at most 3 books at once, and the Sony is just about right for bookmarking).

I also have no shortage of books--a zillion 'classics,' and a bunch of Baen books in the queue, along with several free/purchased novels from Connect and some misc dl's from the forums here. I tend to find stuff I want to read from what's available, rather than expecting a particular book to be available for my device.

Why I think I might not like the Kindle (note: I haven't seen one in person yet!):

I suspect the battery life is short. Unlike the Sony, which gives me a couple of weeks easily of spare-time reading between charges. I fear the wireless and other 'extra' Kindle features will eat up battery life. I do *not* want another device that has to be charged every day or 2.

The Kindle appears bulky/heavy/awkward compared to the Sony. Is it? I sometimes hold the Sony in one hand, using fingertips to turn pages. Is the Kindle a 2-hander?

I also don't need lookup capabilities (dictionary, word search), nor do I want to read online blogs. I just want to read the books on my device. Are these extras (and the apparent bulk associated with them) significant negatives for me?(Online access is not an issue. I am already carrying a full bookshelf with me, and swapping some files every 1-2 months is not an issue.)

Am I missing something that would tilt me toward the Kindle? Or am I better off with my no-frills Sony? (I'm still up in the air between the 500 and 505 if I get another Sony--the 505 screen is a plus, and I think hacking ability on the 505 would decide it for me over the 500.)

BTW, I don't understand the last line of the OP--saying the Kindle might b better if you travel frequently. My first thought is the Sony is better for travel, because you don't even have to bring a charger on any reasonable-length trip (or worry about charging it for my daily subway commute) --more like a 'real' book you just take along. Am I missing something?

SanAntone
11-22-2007, 12:34 AM
Good points.

If you are concerned about battery life, you can turn off the radio until you want to download a new book. Battery life should then last about 7 days.

I am using it to read with only one hand. It's not heavy at all.

Also, a unique point about the color. Just read a personal review about the Kindle from the founder of Smugmug. He makes a great point that the white color makes it easier for him to get immersed in his book than the charcoal or silver of the Sony. (He has both).

Good luck on your choice!

airlik
11-22-2007, 12:59 AM
I suppose I could just look at the spec sheets... but how does the thickness compare? I have the Sony PRS-500 and like the THIN and the feel of metal. I'm not an "instant gratification" person (I think most heavy book readers are not?), so the wireless isn't really a factor for me (other than possible newspaper downloading/reading on the road, which I'm taking from the above isn't going to cut it for me anyway). I'd consider getting a Kindle for the content, though (9.99 per bestseller... awesome) - but I think the kicker is that my 500 feels "nice" held in one hand, whereas the Kindle looks... bulky. For the folks who have both, how does the "nice to hold" factor compare?

Another concern for me is book lighting at night. I have a light wedge, and on my Sony I just have it cover the screen, positioning the light body to the upper right. It works well enough that my wedge isn't totally ruined with scratches ... yet (the thing BLEEDS scratches). The Kindle has many more buttons, and I heard the side (top on right side, or side on right side?) causes page turns... which would pretty much negate being able to balance the wedge there.

I also like having PDF support, and lots of tools for converting various formats to the Sony format - though I'm assuming similar tools will come to pass in Kindle-land.


Just a couple of thoughts...

astra
11-22-2007, 06:09 AM
the Sony gives you the current page number and total pages, the Kindle gives you "location" and a progress bar; page turns on the Kindle are slightly faster; and the Kindle has more font sizes.

Could you clarify this please?

1. the Kindle gives you "location" and a progress bar
What do you mean "location"? The way Sony is doing it page 117 of 967 seems to be the most natural way of representing "location". Before reading reviews on CyBook I could not even imagine it might be different.

2. page turns on the Kindle are slightly faster
even faster than on 505, correct? I suspected it would be the case though.

SanAntone
11-22-2007, 08:02 AM
It gives a location based on where you are in the book. It's a range. The best I can tell is that it divides the screen into deciles and then shows the range for the content that appears on that page....ie 410-418.

The advantage of this is that if you change your font size, if you went to 410 you would arrive at the same place. I would think you couldn't do this with strictly page numbers.

dugbug
11-22-2007, 08:16 AM
The advantage of this is that if you change your font size, if you went to 410 you would arrive at the same place. I would think you couldn't do this with strictly page numbers.



oh, good point. +1 kindle.


Also, I think the kindle is using the viziplex in 4 color mode as opposed to sony, which is using it in 8, correct? THis would explain the faster paging.

-d

bluemoon
11-22-2007, 08:54 AM
Why I think I might not like the Kindle (note: I haven't seen one in person yet!):

I suspect the battery life is short. Unlike the Sony, which gives me a couple of weeks easily of spare-time reading between charges. I fear the wireless and other 'extra' Kindle features will eat up battery life. I do *not* want another device that has to be charged every day or 2.

The Kindle appears bulky/heavy/awkward compared to the Sony. Is it? I sometimes hold the Sony in one hand, using fingertips to turn pages. Is the Kindle a 2-hander?

I also don't need lookup capabilities (dictionary, word search), nor do I want to read online blogs. I just want to read the books on my device. Are these extras (and the apparent bulk associated with them) significant negatives for me?(Online access is not an issue. I am already carrying a full bookshelf with me, and swapping some files every 1-2 months is not an issue.)

Am I missing something that would tilt me toward the Kindle? Or am I better off with my no-frills Sony? (I'm still up in the air between the 500 and 505 if I get another Sony--the 505 screen is a plus, and I think hacking ability on the 505 would decide it for me over the 500.)

BTW, I don't understand the last line of the OP--saying the Kindle might be better if you travel frequently. My first thought is the Sony is better for travel, because you don't even have to bring a charger on any reasonable-length trip (or worry about charging it for my daily subway commute) --more like a 'real' book you just take along. Am I missing something?

You can turn the wireless off. With it on, you will need to charge every day or two. With it off, I'm guessing a charge will last as long as the Sony, but this is only a guess. One nice feature is that you can access the battery, which means you can bring a spare (I think Amazon sells them for $20).

As compared to either Sony, the Kindle is bulky and awkward. I've not noticed it feeling heavier. Because of the wedge shape, the device itself it thicker and so is the case. In fact, with all three devices in their cases, the Kindle is as thick as the two Sonys stacked on top of each other. Moreover, the placement of the buttons makes it difficult to "hold" the Kindle in one hand. There is no real way to grip it with your right hand, although you can let it rest in the palm of your right hand (more like cradling it vs. gripping it). The placement of the buttons makes it slightly easier to grip in your left hand, but you have to hold it near the keyboard to do so. You cannot hold it on the middle left as you can with the 500.

My comment about the Kindle being better if you are a traveler was a nod to the wireless capabilities of the Kindle. I live in DC, so the Washington Post is my local paper. When I am out of town, for less than $1, I can have the Post downloaded to my Kindle first thing in the morning.

Given your needs, I don't see a good reason to switch to the Kindle.

p.s. After posting this, I noticed I was/am logged on with my second account. :oops2: Just to be clear, bluemoon and restonreader are the same person, so this account also qualifies as the OP. Sorry about that.

restonreader
11-22-2007, 10:12 AM
Could you clarify this please?

1. the Kindle gives you "location" and a progress bar
What do you mean "location"? The way Sony is doing it page 117 of 967 seems to be the most natural way of representing "location". Before reading reviews on CyBook I could not even imagine it might be different.

2. page turns on the Kindle are slightly faster
even faster than on 505, correct? I suspected it would be the case though.

It looks like every 2-3 lines in a book is considered a location. So a book is divided into thousands of locations. On any given "page", instead of a page number, a "location" is displayed. Early in the book, the location might be: 112-120, which means that the page you are viewing contains those locations. The total number of locations is NOT displayed. So you don't get "location 112 out of 2450". Instead there is a progress bar along the bottom of the page, which allows you to gauge relative progress through the book.

Page turns do feel slightly faster on the Kindle, although when I've done side-by-side comparisons I get inconsistent results. Neither device turns the page at the same speed every time. However, my unscientific tests have them very close, with the Kindle occasionally, but not always faster.

p.s. I'm back to being restonreader instead of bluemoon. again, sorry about that.

JSWolf
12-02-2007, 08:48 AM
The Kindle uses Vizplex which is a faster screen then the original screen used by the 500. The 505 is also faster then the 500 because of the Vizplex screen.

HarryT
12-02-2007, 09:21 AM
The Kindle, Sony 505, and CyBook Gen3 all use the same identical screen.