Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Utah, USA
Device: iPad, iPhone 4
My thoughts, PRS-300, PRS-600, PRS-505, PRS-700, Kindle 2
So, I've now had time with the PRS-300 and PRS-600 allowing me to have experience the last four sony devices and amazon's Kindle 2. My thoughts are as follows.
Glare: The Kindle 2 and the PRS-600 have an indistinguishable amount of reflectivity. They both require avoidance of spot lighting. There is no concern about how much glare you experience on either device, as long as you're willing to make minor efforts to compensate for it (tilt it slightly, use a book-light, whatever works).
Clarity: Remember the 505? Remember how it really looked like paper? No other reader I've used has been quite that good. It's because of the contrast. The 300 and the 505 are almost exactly the same, but, the 300 supports more levels of gray, and a slightly lower contrast because of it. The 300 looks exactly the same as the 505 until you put one next to the other and you can see slight differences in the clarity. The 505 wins but by almost immeasurably little. Remember the 700? The 700 compared to the 505 was a huge joke, and Sony went out of their way to demonstrate this at their own displays! Not only did it reflect light in a more diffused (and thus, more distracting) way than the 505, it was lower contrast and there was a blurring layer of diffusion plastic for the sake of the sidelights. It looks terrible, and I am impressed by anyone who has found themselves able to use the thing. The 600? Nothing like that. Imagine the 700 without the diffusion plastic. It's like a 505, screenwise, but with a thicker layer of glass/plastic on top. You can tell it's not quite as clear especially at certain angles, but generally speaking, this is nothing like the 700. You will forget about it within hours of using the device. If you're worried about this aspect of the 600, don't, it's a non-issue.
Speed: The 300 is as slow as the 505. Period. It's like they took the 505 and squished it up so it's a little thicker and a lot smaller otherwise. I would say this about the 300: If you like the 505 you'll like the 300 EXCEPT if you're in love with the 505's button layout. The 300 has fewer buttons and thus fewer options but, I think it's small enough that it's not a big issue. Other than that you'll swear, especially with a same-colored one, that you're holding the midget-pickle version of the same device. The 600 is very fast, faster than my Kindle 2, and even the drawing is relatively responsive, especially if you slow your drawing down just a bit. It's weird, it's like if you draw really fast it seems slow, unresponsive, but if you just slow down slightly, maybe 10% slower, the responsiveness goes up 100% easily. Weird. But it's good to know about, because once you get the right speed down, it's very comfortable to draw notes, smileyes, derogatory images, whatever floats your boat.
Fonts: I only paid attention to this on the 600. It seems that in landscape mode the fonts are all larger, and the smallest font in landscape mode is as big or larger than medium in portrait mode. I dislike this greatly. It is the only complaint I have against the 600. It seems like a mistake to me, because, it makes it pointless to use landscape mode. All the fonts are bigger. Stupid.
Et cetera: Zooming and panning around? Works great, just use the stylus. Menu and UI functionality doesn't take into account modern touch interface patterns very well. For example, to scroll a list you still have to drag a scroll bar instead of just dragging the list itself. This isn't a big deal but I'm an iPhone owner and it caught me up numerous times.
Final thoughts/Concerns: While I'd pretty much recommend the 600 outright to anyone considering it, it's not flawless. It has very little improvement over prior devices. The touch screen is only useful if you need to make annotations (I do, it's important for my work) otherwise it's not very well thought out (Only swiping for turn gestures? I dislike it, it's a lot more effort than pressing a button, especially since you have to press relatively hard. I'd like it if I could just press half the screen once to turn). The screen doesn't suffer greatly from the touch screen but it does suffer. If you can be sure you won't miss the touch screen, just get a 300. The 300's screen is more enjoyable than the 505, despite slightly lower contrast, because it's higher ppi/resolution.
It's still a 6" screen. If you're hoping for a better PDF reading experience than the 505, you're wasting your time. If you own a Kindle 2, and want better PDF, then 600 will be far superior. But so will the Plastic Logic reader, an iRex DR1000, and a few other larger devices. It's not a given that the 600 is worth buying for PDF concerns only. Considering that for full page PDF to be reasonably enjoyable you need to use landscape mode anyway, Personally my recommendation would be to at least wait for the Daily Edition. That extra inch might not seem important for proper ebooks, because it's not, but for a PDF it will give you greatly increased font sizes in landscape mode.
I didn't purchase the 600, and at this point, my thoughts are... I would rather have the 600 than my Kindle 2 for sure. If I didn't need PDF and annotation support improvements, I would prefer a 505 to the 600. If I wasn't reading PDF's, I would prefer the 300 to all of them. The 300 isn't that much smaller but it truly is just enough to make it pocketable which is a pretty nice thing. It slips into the side pocket on my slim laptop back like a pro. But, because of the size and my experiences there.. because of the stupid behaviors of things like, losing zoom between pages on PDF viewing, and other such things, I'm not going to buy the 600. I will not buy the daily edition either, or even consider it, if I don't see reports of firmware updates fixing stupid PDF UI related issues. It seems like hardly any of these companies can get this basic concept right. Why can't they just look at what a regular PDF reader on a PC offers and do that?... oh well.
I'm currently officially looking forward to the Plastic Logic reader, because, even if it can't maintain PDF zoom, at least it will be a big enough screen that it won't matter. It will allow annotations, already confirmed, and I don't really have other concerns. I will care if it loses the supposed ePub support but otherwise... it's looking better every time I try a new device.