Today I was lucky enough to need to drive down over to a town with a Borders that carries and has a demo version of the Sony PRS505. I of course had my Nokia N800 with me.
FYI, I don't read technical docs or graphically intensive docs on my readers...just novels and websites. And never ever PDF's as, well, I don't like PDF's on ANY platform.
Since I had already tried out the Sony PRS500 last year and actually liked it, I had not thought of actually comparing the devices until I remembered the demo device in the store ...I had liked the older PRS500 when I tried it alone even if the display seemed a bit weak. I knew the Vizplex version was either out already or due out very soon so it was bound to be improved...d'oh! maybe not so much...
On my Nokia I am running the only ebook reader app we really have that runs under the native ITOS2008 operating system that being FBReader. I actually love FBR most days...
Display size: Of course the Sony is MUCH BIGGER and wins here hands down. But I have to say when compared to the N800, set to about the same font size as on the Sony (32px on the N800), the display on the PRS505 is much dimmer than I remember when I looked at PRS500 by itself. I found the text on the N800 significantly sharper and crisper than that of the PRS505. I was both surprised and, well, disappointed.
I use FBR in 'portrait mode' so page layout was similar. I also setup the background under FBR to be close to an off-white almost beige/tan color similar to a parchment color. To my eye the contrast on the Sony was extremely poor in comparison to the N800. I suspect the same would hold true for the Kindle.
Of course the PRS505 shows more info on each page. But I was surprised to find the N800 has much crisper text and is significantly easier on my eyes to read. After using FBR's setup/config options I can easily hold the N800 in one hand while reading.
I actually found the Sony Reader not very comfy to use. The lack of a touch screen being the second most significant issue. The first was
Anyway, I just found it much more difficult to read on the Sony display. I think it is the contrast ratio of the eink displays is simply not up to where I had hoped/expected of this generation of eink devices.
I found the lack of a touch screen on a modern device disturbing. Again I would imagine I would feel the same about the Kindle. Though I think I could become accustom to the way the Sony system navigates in short order. I found I could switch hands holding the device and still navigate (as in change pages) pretty easily. Still the nav system felt odd in comparison.
In my daily use of either my Sony nx73v Clie or the Nokia N800 I actually keep the brightness turned down to exactly where my eyes relax for the ambient lighting. I found no option to adjust the contrast on the Sony. Is that there anywhere? I would hope it is...
For example for most conditions I use only 2/5 bars of brightness on the N800. To be completely honest, after about 30-mins of reading the PRS505 today, my eyes felt much more fatigued by the eink display when compared with using either my nx73v or my N800 under the same conditions. My two devices use different LCD display tech but are, in reality much easier on my eyes. This really did surprise me.
Now if the contrast can be adjusted on the eink readers then perhaps the eink devices are nicer then today's side-by-side showed me. Basically, for me, unless the eink based display's allow user adjusted contrast ratio's, today's real world comparison gave me pause when considering an eink device. I am pretty convinced it will be best to wait at least a year maybe longer. I find the Sony navigation system clunky, though in fairness I find the nav system in FBReader when in 'portrait mode' kinda-sorta clunky too, usable but awkward. Though FBR had a significant improvement this past week when they added the ability to pick-up the meta-data for many formats. Thus creating a much nicer library list w/o many manual adjustments needed.
I think in reality when comparing devices like dedicated ereader devices with other non-ebook dedicated devices it breaks down to maybe two distance areas. The first being the displays and the second being the "reader software" portion of each device.
I am hoping I simply missed finding the config settings on the PRS505 today. But if I didn't then I know I would also not be pleased with a Kindle/Cybook/iLiad/etc...and that is based on the lack of contrast in the displays themselves.
Anyway, I still think the Sony PRS505 is about as sexy a reading device as one might want...only problem is I find it to be pretty but sorta empty headed in terms of my personal comfort level.
So, for now, just looking at the reader & display sides of the equations and given my very simple unsophisticated reading needs, my N800 easily wins (I had actually been considering selling it and replacing with a Kindle this week.) My nx73v comes in a very, very....VERY close 2nd with eink displays placing a distant 3rd out of three horses in the race. And I guess I won't sell my new N800 just yet and will wait for the 3rd or 4th gen eink devices. The 2nd gen eink just did not exactly "...blow my skirt...", unless of course I want to read outside on my deck, then again I have my nx73v for that.
Anyway, just my observations given my chance to compare these things side by side today....I am very likely FOS but hey, someone has to be...