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Old 01-18-2010, 06:49 PM   #1
Nate the great
Sir Penguin of Edinburgh
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Sony Daily Edition review

This review is fairly long (1400+ words)so I'm going to split it into 2 parts. The second half will be the first response to the topic.

Sony lent me a Daily Edition at CES so I could write this review. I used it during my commute to CES every day and then on the plane ride home. Now that I've had a week I think it's an interesting device. I wouldn't buy one, but I can see why it might suit someone else.

Periodicals
I prefer RSS feeds as my news sources, so I don't usually read newspapers. But I bought and downloaded a couple issues, and I'm glad I did. Periodicals are one of the Daily Edition's better features.

First of all, periodicals are listed separate from other ebooks; there's a separate tab on the main page. I like that because it makes them easier to find. The newspapers are organized by the publication's title and then by date. You can sort them by issue date or latest read. Another feature I like is that you can decide how much of a back list you want to keep for each publication. You can also decide to protect editions from being deleted.

The reading experience was also pretty good. You lose a small amount of space at the bottom of the screen to a menu with 4 buttons: Previous, Section Top, Table of Contents, Next. The Next and Previous buttons serve a dual purpose; if you're on the first page of a section (Metro, Lifestyle, Commentary, etc), you'll see Next/Previous Section. But if you're in the middle of a section, you'll see Next/Previous Article.

There is also a rather odd feature I want to point out. There is no image mode on the Daily Edition; you can't select an image and have it appear full screen. But there is a zoom option (in Epub), and it works nicely for enlarging an image. I've tried it with a number of images, and either all these images are high resolution or the Daily Edition is doing a bang-up job at interpolation.

It would be nice, though, if I could double click on an image and have it zoom automatically. HINT, HINT, SONY.

Epub
I much preferred my own collection; the ones I bought from Sony had margins at least twice as wide and were fully justified.

PDF
I've never liked how Sony handled zoom; I think the zoom should be consistent across page turns. But the Daily Edition has a new autocrop option, and for the most part it resolved the issue. I tried a couple academic PDFs, and the autocrop showed me a page that was good enough to scan the contents and look at the equations and graphs (both of which are lost in reflow mode).

I'm not sure but I suspect that Sony doesn't expect the user to stay in zoom mode. I think they expect you to spend all your time in the reflow mode. This makes little sense for complex PDFs, though.

The Sony Store
As you probably know, you can buy ebooks directly from the Daily Edition. I see the value in that; now if only the experience weren't quite so unpleasant (on par with Sony's desktop software).

I bought several bundles, and it wasn't clear exactly which titles came in a bundle. Listing details so it can be found easily is a web design 101 topic; it's a shame that Sony hasn't learned it yet.

I expect the store to behave like it is being run in a web browser and it doesn't. Sony made a number of design decisions that confused me. For example, after buying a book I want to be able to go back to the page I was on (a list of a particular author's books, perhaps). I don't want to go back to the main store page; if I did I would use the options button and select “Store Home”.

There is a back arrow, but it's not a back button. All it will do after a purchase is take me to the shopping cart screen, which is weird because all the transactions are buy-it-now. I couldn't actually put anything in the cart, so I really have to ask why it was implemented?

There are no refunds for any purchases, and this concerns me. I'd be afraid to let anyone touch the Daily Edition because they might buy something without realizing it.
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