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Old 09-14-2010, 01:59 PM   #1
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Mini-Review of my 350 with Photos

I received my silver PRS-350 this morning (September 14). This is a mini-review with photos and some tips and observations.

NOTE: As I explore more of the features of the 350 I will add my comments in this post as I time allows.

Last Updated: September 17, 2010 at 1103 CDT

BUILD QUALITY

My PRS-300 was definitely built like a tank. The PRS-350 is not. It is solid feeling in your hands, and extremely lightweight. However, the metal skin on the front and back are extremely thin and the white plactic along the top, right side, and bottom sticks out like a sore thumb. So attraction-wise I would say the 300 was better looking. Build quality is way better in the 300 too. The 300 simply felt stronger and looked better cosmetically. However, the 350 is solid enough and still looks nice. The third photo below shows one of four seams around the 350 screen which show up prominently in this photo, this one is marked with a red circle. This is not quite the quality we have received from Sony in the past.

CHARGING

Good news here. You can charge the 350 using the provided standard USB to micro-USB cable via a PC. I also tried using the AC charger that came with my Blackberry and it worked fine. Ditto for the AC to USB adapter charger that came with my Kindles. DON'T waste $29 on a Sony charger. Your cellular phone charger will probably work. If not you can get a cheap AC to USB adapter for pennies!

Updated: You can read while charging via an AC charger. However, I was unable to read while the 350 was connected via USB cable to my Windows 7 PC even after ejecting the 350.

SCREEN QUALITY

One word suffices, WOW! It is as good as my Kindle WiFi. Sony actually got it right the third time around when it comes to touchscreen eInk. And speaking of touchscreens, the 350 screen is very responsive to the touch even using my fat fingers. selecting individual words took a bit of practice, but once I got the location of finger in relation to word correct, it is easy to do. Using the stylus is much more accurate and fast, but who wants to pull out the stylus?! Fingers work fine.

The eInk screen is deeply recessed (appx. 0.10") due to the addition of the infrared sensors around it. This recess has the habit of casting some long shadows under certain lighting conditions. In comparison, my K3 screen is recessed appx. 0.03" and so casts little shadow.

DEFLATING THE OVERBLOWN PAGE TURN SLOW DOWN ISSUE

I tested my 350 outside for an hour with the temperature at 90 degrees F, the humidity at 45%, and the heat index at 93 degrees. After about 40 minutes I did notice a slow down in page turning speed, and then used a stopwatch to time it. The page turns slowed to about 1.5 seconds in duration including the finger swipe on the screen. This is about identical to the issue I read concerning the new Kindle 3. No other slow down or erratic behavior was noticed.

My conclusion: At worst, I find this to be a very minor issue. I can live with 1.5 second page turns when in the heat as I will seldom be reading in that temperature. And let us not lose track of the fact that Sony rates the reader for up to 95 degrees F, so we were taking it to the edge of its design parameters. Therefore, we should expect issues at this temperature. And the same can be said for the K3.

USABILITY AND FEATURES

The touchscreen makes the 350 easy to use. Sony of course buries a few often used menu items two or three tiers deep, but they always have done that. Page turns are quick and I haven't noticed much ghosting. Sony has greatly increased the speed of connecting the Reader to the Reader Library software. With older readers it took a while for the software to recognize the reader once you connected the USB cable. With the 350 it seems almost instantaneous. Disconnecting and starting the 350 seems faster too, but I haven't tried loading dozens of books at once yet. I haven't tried the notes and other apps yet, but reading is a pleasure and page turns are easy to execute with a swipe of the finger or using the buttons. A couple of times I've tried to gently brush a speck of dust or cat hair from the screen and managed to turn a page! So page turning via touchscreen is very sensitive and effective.

FONT CUSTOMIZATIONS

Yes, the font customizations described in various threads here on MR work with the 350! Amazon locked down the new Kindle 3 so they haven't been able to do any hacks on it yet, so I was very pleasantly surprised and happy to see that at least the font hacks work on the 350. I only tried the one where you add a font folder to the 350 then call the fonts through CSS. BTW, the threads on MR showing how to do this require reading page after page of often conflicting info throughout a long thread. I wrote a document which gives you all the necessary info in a straightforward manner. I attached it to this post. My photos below show my 350 using Arial Rounded MT Bold rather than the stock fonts.

SCREENSAVERS (STANDBY SCREEN IMAGES)

The 350 comes with three JPEGs that it uses as screensavers (standby screen images). Screensavers is not the appropriate term, but since everyone probably knows what I mean by it I will use it. Sony uses the term Standby Screen. You can add and/or delete screensavers. If you are in Landscape mode and put the 350 in Sleep mode using a standard 600 x 800 pixel portrait style screensaver image, you will see the image rotated and it will have a lot of black on either side. I experimented and found that rotating an image 90 degrees clockwise and making it a screensaver prevents this ackward appearance. see the last two photos below.

FUNCTIONALITY

I'm slowly trying out various functionality and will add my comments thereof here as I get that chance.

The 2-column and 3-column split mode. This works only in Portrait mode; not in landscape. See post #9 below for photos and details. It basically allows you to quickly zoom in on and read a 2 or 3 column PDF. It works really well and is a nice feature I never knew I wanted but am glad I now have!

This is a two column PDF in normal view: http://www.w5jck.com/PRS-350/prs350-...-activated.jpg

This is a two column PDF in 2-column view: http://www.w5jck.com/PRS-350/prs350-...-activated.jpg

Update: According to yts06mgr in post #27, the 2-column and 3-column split works in Landscape if the original document is in landscape.

The Margin Cut mode. I could not get this to work in either Portrait or Landscape with the scanned PDF I used. Perhaps it will work with non-scanned PDFs. UPDATE: I tried this with a non-scanned PDF which in Landscape mode had 0.6" margins while in Original mode. Switching to Margin Cut mode only marginally (pun intended) reduced the margins to 0.5" which is still a huge margin. In Portrait mode Original mode the margins were 0.48" and were reduced to 0.38" in Margin Cut mode. So this apparently reduces PDF margins by only 0.1" in either Portrait or Landscape and with my PDF had very little effect. I would say it doesn't work well at all.

Dictionary popup window. When you select a word you get a small dictionary popup window at the bottom of the screen. Although a very nice feature that is easy to use, I find the text displayed in the popup to be too small for my eyes. There is no way to enlarge the text in the popup. Below is a link to a sample photo showing the popup. I've also encountered an anomaly when selecting a word near the bottom of the screen wherein the popup text is partially faded and thus extremely difficult to read. BTW, The Kindle WiFi dictionary popup is a little easier to read, but it too could use larger text.

http://www.w5jck.com/PRS-350/prs350-...nary-popup.jpg

PHOTOS

All of these photos show the 350 sitting on top of my slip case that came with my 300. All the photos show the font hack fonts.

Here is the Home page in Portrait mode:



A page from The Lord of the Rings in Portrait mode:



A page from The Lord of the Rings in Landscape mode:



Notice the seam (white line inside red circle) that shows up prominently in this photo. There are four seams like this around the 350 screen. This is not quite the quality we have received from Sony in the past.

A Portrait image as screensaver displayed when 350 is put in Sleep mode while reading in Landscape mode:



A Landscape image as screensaver displayed when 350 is put in Sleep mode while reading in Landscape mode: (NOTE: This is also how a Portrait image is displayed when 350 is put in Sleep mode while reading in Portrait mode.)



...
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Adding-Fonts-to-a-Sony-Reader.pdf (381.8 KB, 5256 views)

Last edited by jswinden; 09-17-2010 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:18 PM   #2
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That's good news that an actual end-user is happy (since I'm waiting for my own 650 to arrive soon)!
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:19 PM   #3
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Very nice work. What is the red circle highlighting?
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fbone View Post
Very nice work. What is the red circle highlighting?
I guess the best way to describe it is to compare the internal edges around the screen to a picture frame. A picture frame is made of four pieces top, botton, and two sides that have their edges cut at 45 degree beveled angles so that the frame pieces fit together to form a rectangle. Apparently sony has combined four pieces, possibly housing the infrared sensors, and each piece has a 45 degree beveled edge. The pieces on my 350 do not line up perfectly so I can see the edges of all of them very plainly, especially the one that shows up in the photo. It is put together similar to a very cheap picture frame where the beveled edges don't fit precisely. No big deal as it is merely cosmetic, but it is definitely not up to Sony's top quality tradition.
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:28 PM   #5
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Thank you very much for the review. Very well written, by the way. Nice to hear a hard confirmation that a standard blackberry wall charger works. When you get a chance, could you post photos of the new split column feature? Does this work in both portrait and landscape mode?
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:39 PM   #6
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jswinden
Thanks for the review.

Quote:
I was very pleasantly surprised and happy to see that at least the font hacks work on the 350. I only tried the one where you add a font folder to the 350 then call the fonts through CSS.
Erm, the font hack required having custom firmware with modified adobe viewer file (without it, viewer does not look for a css file in internal memory).



?

[UPDATE]Just read the attached manual. Modifying css files contained in EPUB files is ment. Never mind.[/UPDATE]

PS
Regarding the touchscreen, afaik it's "infrared" i.e.: there is invisible IR beam/receiver grid over the screen, to interact with it, you have to put something opaque in the way. Hence pressure doesn't matter.

Last edited by kartu; 09-14-2010 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avwriter View Post
Thank you very much for the review. Very well written, by the way. Nice to hear a hard confirmation that a standard blackberry wall charger works. When you get a chance, could you post photos of the new split column feature? Does this work in both portrait and landscape mode?
Here are the photos. I'm not sure what the purpose of 2-column split and 3-column split is, as I haven't read the manual about it except for page 48 so I could get you the photos.

It does not work in landscape. In the photo you see the icon displayed in the lower left indicating 2-column split is activated, but it di not do anything. The text display was the same as in Original mode.

In portrait mode it divides the screen into four or six areas. For 2-column split you get 2 columns and 2 rows, for 3-column split you get 3 columns and 2 rows. Navigating is awkward and I really see no purpose for this mode. See below for how it divides the screen:

1 3
2 4

or

1 3 5
2 4 6

Paging forward you will start at position 1 then go to 2 then back up to 3 then down to 4 etc. As you can see in the photo it cuts words in pieces along the dividing line and scrolls up and down rather than left to right. It would have made more sense to use this scheme:

1 2 3
4 5 6


Note that I used an ePub. So what is this feature and why would anyone want it?

EDIT: Nevermind my brain fart! It just dawned on me what this feature is for. I think it is to help you read a document that came with 2 columns per page or 3 columns per page, such as a PDF might. In that case the paging direction makes perfect sense! Duh... I'll look around and see if i can find a PDF will 2 or 3 columns per page and try the feature on that file.

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Old 09-14-2010, 03:51 PM   #8
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Okay. Thanks for the clarification. That makes sense. I just wondered it it could be used to create a simulated two page view in landscape, the way the 900 can. Clearly it cannot. I too would be dubious of the usefulness of this, but was curious how it would look. Obviously, it is a non-issue. Thanks for trying.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Avwriter View Post
Okay. Thanks for the clarification. That makes sense. I just wondered it it could be used to create a simulated two page view in landscape, the way the 900 can. Clearly it cannot. I too would be dubious of the usefulness of this, but was curious how it would look. Obviously, it is a non-issue. Thanks for trying.
No but it does help with 2-column and 3-column PDFs. See photos from a crappy scanned type of PDF. This does not work in Landscape--only in Portrait.

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Old 09-14-2010, 03:58 PM   #10
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Have you manged/tried to reproduce the problem other people have reported with the reader slowing down after a long read?
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:04 PM   #11
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Thanks very much Jack! Very good review...
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:08 PM   #12
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No but it does help with 2-column and 3-column PDFs.
...
From my understanding, that is what this feature is for.
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:16 PM   #13
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Have you manged/tried to reproduce the problem other people have reported with the reader slowing down after a long read?
No, but I'll do that right now and update this post when I'm done.

UPDATE: I just paged through 200 pages of the 1426 page The lord of the Rings in ePub format. I didn't read them of course, but I paused momentarily between page changes. The only slow downs I encountered were when changing to another chapter, which is expected since it has to open a new html file, and on rare occasions when a page of poetry was encountered. The latter only caused a slight decrease in page turn speed and affected only for the one page at a time. This too is probably explained by the way in which the publisher chose to display the poetry using html tags. I can take a peek later and see if the publisher used DIV tags.

But overall, I did not encounter the slow downs that at least one person has.

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Old 09-14-2010, 04:24 PM   #14
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So, what about using the reader while charging? Some conflicting info coming in on this matter. So, were you able to read while charging, or were you not? Is it a specific function of the Sony charger, or does any charger work the same way?
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:34 PM   #15
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So, what about using the reader while charging? Some conflicting info coming in on this matter. So, were you able to read while charging, or were you not? Is it a specific function of the Sony charger, or does any charger work the same way?
I can read while charging via my Blackberry AC charger.

I was unable to read while charging with a USB cable connected to my Windows 7 PC. I tried opening Windows Exporing, selecting the 350, right-clicking, and selecting Eject. The 350 was ejected, but the screen remained on the charging screen. I also tried ejecting using the task manager but no luck there either.
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