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Old 12-26-2007, 08:58 AM   #1
CJBarrow
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Cybook v PRS-505 Comparison

I just received my new Bookeen Gen 3 on Christmas Eve and thought I would share a few thoughts. I have been a PRS-500 user since Nov last year and recently upgraded to the PRS0505, once I saw that the Bookeen Gen3 was out and supported MobiPocket I decided to take the plunge and get that as well. The intention is to keep the one I like and sell the other.

I have now been using the Gen3 for a couple of days, the best way I think to show my impressions is to list pro's and con's.

What I like:-
  1. Fast page refresh and navigation, much better then the PRS-505
  2. Fast start up and good holding page while it boots.
  3. MobiPocket support - I can now buy books anywhere I want without having to convert them and worry how they display
  4. Can now buy copy protected books (DRAM), I do not live in the US so could not buy books from the Sony connect site for my PRS-500/505
  5. I can add any news feed I want using MobiPocket reader and the biggest advantage of all, they actually display properly. I gave up looking at news feeds on the Sony reader, there was no good choice and the display was awful. It's dead simple, simply connect to your PC, open MobiPocket desktop and it will automatically synchronise your chosen news feeds.
  6. Having menu's that you can set to configure and change things is great.
  7. Good screen display, identical to the Sony Reader PRS-505
  8. The thumbnail display of book covers is quite cool, there is a slight delay when displaying a books thumbnail for the first time as will automatically create a thumb nail and save it. Second time round it does not have to do this.
  9. Choice of choosing and adding fonts - Nice feature, not sure if I would ever use it though.
  10. Light weight, easy to hold in one hand for extended periods of time.
  11. You can use any USB charging device to charge the reader - I needed to shave a bit off my blackberry charger for it to fit.
  12. Do not have to wait after loading new books for the device to recognise them.
  13. Very fast almost instant page reformatting when changing font size, when choosing the font size you can see what you get. The PRS-505 take up to a minute or more depending on the size of the book.
  14. Good selection of supported file formats, some of those not supported can be converted with MobiPoket desktop.
  15. The battery life is better than the PRS-505, the Gen3 lasted 5 day's very heavy usage (8+ hours a day) where as the PRS-505 lasted 2 and a half.
  16. From HarryT's note below - One major benefit of the Gen3 over the Sony is dictionary support. HarryT also has his own posting about dictionary support Go to Artical
  17. Though not great PDF support is better than that on the PRS-505, Sony do plan to improve this in the next firmware update.
    Part of the problem with most PDF documents, is that they are formatted A4 or larger, when the portrait-mode image is loaded, it just reduces the size of the font down to unacceptable levels. If the PDF has been reformatted to smaller than A4 before transferring to the Gen3 then it will display well.
Things I do not like
  1. look & feel - The hardware when compared to the Sony PRS-505 appears cheep and flimsy, the quality of workmanship is just not up to that of Sony's reader.
  2. The page turning button is cheep and nasty, the click action is not smooth and does not always turn the page.
  3. Sorting and filtering of books - Much worse than the PRS-505, you can not sort by Author, no facility for book collections, you can off set this slightly by sorting by file location and putting your books into folders or by file name.
    This is a Major issue, ok if you only have a very low number of books on the device. Once you have say 20+ then you have to page forward to find the book you want, the more books you gave the worse it gets.
  4. If you choose to display more than 5 books to a page then you can not see the complete title of the book, nor the author.
  5. There is no facility for searching for books/articles/authors - This does not exist for the Sony ready.
  6. No book cover for the reader - Has to be purchased separately, I am told the leather cover is excellent and I will be getting one.
  7. You can not charge the book and read at the same time.
  8. Search within books does not work in this firmware version (you get a waning message).
  9. Page number is not displayed in book, a bit limiting when you want to go to a certain page.
  10. page history would be very useful, I have accidentally lost my place a couple of time and it took ages to get back to the page I was on (I have since learned that you can use the back button on the left side to go back one step).
  11. If you turn the book off and turn it back on again, you do not go to the last page you were reading, you have to select the book again.
  12. Navigation around is generally much easier with the PRS-505 than the Gen3.
  13. The battery metre is not available when reading a book, this can only be seen from the Library page. I ran out of power the other day while reading and thought the book had frozen on me, nothing worked, I was stuck on one page and could not even do a reset.
    It wasn't until I connected the charger I found the battery was flat.
  14. Does not support copy protected (DRM) PDF books, NOTE: The Sony PRS-505 does not support DRM protected e books either.

I am not sure which one I will eventually decide to keep, I like the look and feel of the Sony reader, if I were able to use MobiPocket with it then it would be no contest as the number of book websites I can buy books at is vast.

The Gen3 has more potential, hopefully in the next firmware upgrade they will sort a number of issues, I hope they are more willing to listen to what users want than Sony. The look and feel lets it down a bit, however not as muck as the Kindle which from what I can see is like a brick and plain ugly (apologies in advance if I upset anyone).

Update

After 21 days and 26 books later, I have finally made my decision on which e book reader to keep. This is the Bookeen Gen3, my Sony PRS-505 has been sold on Ebay.

What decided me was speed, flexibility and the range of easily available e books for the Gen3.

Unfortunately I can not give an update on the leather cover as I am still waiting (4 weeks) for it to be delivered.

The Key differentiators for me were:
  1. Availability of e books, both copy protected (DRM) and unprotected with easy conversion to Mobipocket for some file formats.
  2. Speed - The Gen 3 is a lot faster in everything that it does
  3. Flexibility - Better formatting options, ability to sort books out in folders on both memory card and internal memory. Plus a number of other options that are just not available on the Sony PRS-505.

NOTE: When I say sorting in folders, I mean via attached PC, you can not do this yet on the book reader. I create a folder by author and put that authors ebooks in that folder.
On the library screen, display the menu and select "Sort". Choose "Sort by File Path". Your books will still be displayed "linearly" but sorted by folder name.

Update - 7th Feb

Just a Quick update, I received my nice new shiny leather cover last week on the recommendation of HarryT and I have to say I am impressed with the quality. I will not go into any details re Leather or plastic as this has been done to death in a previous post (the outside is man-made and the inner cover Leather).

In my opinion a cover for the Gen3 is a must, maybe this is the one for you.

What I like:
  • Excellent quality
  • Looks good - Lots of envious comments while reading on the train
  • Provides excellent protection for the Gen3
  • Cost - Initially I thought the price a bit high, however you get what you pay for and this is a quality product, well worth the wait.
  • The cover is a good snug fit with all the buttons and ports accessible.
  • The magnets work well to hold the cover closed.

Negative points:
  • The book reader is now more bulky and will not fit into my coat pocket.
  • The page turn button is not as easy to operate as the thickness of the leather causes it to be recessed, the cut-out for the button needs to be slightly better aligned.
  • Although there is a cut-out to get to the USB socket, it is not as easy to remove the rubber cover - Having said that you can easily remove the Gen3 fro the cover or permanently remove the rubber cover from the USB socket.
  • It is possible for the Gen3 to slide out of the cover if you hold the cover upside down and shake it - It must be noted that has never fallen out, this is just an observation that it would be safer if it were secured to the cover.

Last edited by CJBarrow; 02-07-2008 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 12-26-2007, 09:19 AM   #2
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Don't forget one major benefit of the Gen3 over the Sony - dictionary support. I used to think that this was no big deal, but since I've bought a decent dictionary for my Gen3 it's a feature I find myself using all the time, especially when reading authors like Dickens, who uses all sorts of words which are no longer in common usage.
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Old 12-26-2007, 01:03 PM   #3
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Don't you have kind of page history by using the back button? When I by mistake jumps to the beginning of the book I just press back to get back to where I was.

Folders and better sorting and page numbers will probably be in the next firmware release. At least there is indications of that on Bookeens blog and in email responses people have shown here.
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Old 12-27-2007, 06:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJBarrow View Post
I am not sure which one I will eventually decide to keep, I like the look and feel of the Sony reader, if I were able to use MobiPocket with it then it would be no contest as the number of book websites I can buy books at is vast.
i have both of them as well. agree with harryt. the dictionary support is a major benefit esp. as a non-native english speaker. i'm not using my sony right now because of the mobipocket books that i have bought and will keep on buying and as i have no access to the sony bookstore... altho' fictionwise have some books (multiformat) right now that supports the sonyformat.

but if the sony would have the same possibilities as the gen3 and keep what it already has i would keep the sony.
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Old 12-28-2007, 09:02 AM   #5
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Thanks for the advice with the back button, works a treat.

As navigating and looking for books is such a pain I have been experimenting with creating an index book. This is a book that contains a list of all my books, each listed book is a hyper link to a book on my Gen3's SD card. So far I have links within the book working but not external links to other books. If anyone has any ideas of how to make this work I would appreciate it.
I can make links from one book to another within MobiPocket on my PC, however copying these books to the Gen3 and trying the link does not work
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Old 12-28-2007, 01:37 PM   #6
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<snip>...So far I have links within the book working but not external links to other books. If anyone has any ideas of how to make this work I would appreciate it.
I can make links from one book to another within MobiPocket on my PC, however copying these books to the Gen3 and trying the link does not work
I'm sorry to say that it appears that this function is not supported. On Bookeen's software page under "hyperlink support" (http://www.bookeen.com/specs/ebook-software.aspx) it says:
Quote:
Not applicable to hyperlink which points outside the document
I was also hoping you could help me... I'm in the market for a "real" e-book reader to replace my Sony Clie TH55, and I've narrowed my choice down to these same two models. I'm *extremely* curious about some of the things you've said in your review.

When you say that the Cybook feels "flimsy," could you explain a little more? Is the housing made of plastic? I really like the metal housing on the Sony. However, what really makes me angry about the Sony is how HUGE the page margins are (and on the demo unit at Border's, I couldn't find a way to reduce them). How does the Cybook compare?

The margin limitations and the lack of Mac support may drive me to the Cybook, but I'm guessing that it has a lot of bugs to still be worked out.

Thanks for any pointers!

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Old 12-28-2007, 07:41 PM   #7
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However, what really makes me angry about the Sony is how HUGE the page margins are (and on the demo unit at Border's, I couldn't find a way to reduce them). How does the Cybook compare?
Currently you cannot set the margins. But the actual margins varies a bit depending on the font and font size. I use Lucida Sans and usually read with the fourth smallest size and then i get 50-60 characters per line and the margins are 5 mm but you need some margins in lightings where you have shadows. I think 50-60 characters per line is perfectly acceptable.
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Old 12-29-2007, 03:52 AM   #8
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When you say that the Cybook feels "flimsy," could you explain a little more? Is the housing made of plastic? I really like the metal housing on the Sony.
Curt

The housing is made of cheap looking plastic including the buttons which are already losing its paint on my unit. I never had a PRS505 in my hands so I can't say anything about that, but the PRS500 was a very good quality build.

Personally, I believe the Cybook for its 350 Euro is too expensive for the materials used.

Last edited by diabloNL; 12-29-2007 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 12-29-2007, 08:14 AM   #9
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Hi Curtw,

As diabloNL says the the housing is of cheep looking plastic, the PRS-505 is undoubtedly a much more robust and better quality product. It is also a lot cheaper, it cost me ú150 where as the Gen3 cost ú245.

The PRS-505 when connected to my computer shows as an external drive so I do not need to use the Sony software to load books. If that does not work you only have to remove the SD card and connect it directly to your Mac to add books. You will still have the problem you would not be able to load Sony DRAM books.

Personaly I did not find the margins a problem on the PRS-505 or the PRS-500, this depended on the formatting of the book you are reading.

It's a shame that there is no way to to link to external document sources such as other documents on the reader. Looks like I will have to wait for the upcoming firmware update whenever that is.

For me the one major advantage the Gen3 has over the Sony Ready is it's MobiPocket support and probably the only reason for choosing this as my reader of choice. If the Sony reader supported MobiPocket then I would not have considered the Gen3.
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Old 12-29-2007, 01:23 PM   #10
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Personaly I did not find the margins a problem on the PRS-505 or the PRS-500, this depended on the formatting of the book you are reading.
Thanks. I guess I need to study up on the e-book conversion tool for the Mac, to see if I would be able to generate books in the right format.

It's a shame about the Cybook, because the feature list (dictionaries, fonts, PDF landscape mode etc.) make it so appealing. If Sony would just add Mobi support, the decision would be easy.

Last edited by curtw; 12-29-2007 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 12-30-2007, 02:50 AM   #11
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I have to disagree with the comments about the Gen3 being "cheap looking"; I don't find it to be so at all. Yes, the case is made out of plastic, just like the case of virtually every other electronic device that I own. There's absolutely nothing wrong with modern plastics as a constructional material - to equate plastic with "cheapness" is, IMHO, not right.

As a former Sony owner, I think personally that the Gen3 is MUCH better in all sorts of ways. Very well worth the extra cost compared with the Sony.
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Old 12-30-2007, 09:31 AM   #12
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I'm with Harry on this one - I don't think it looks "cheap" because of the plastic. (I agree that the front button is slightly cheesy, I'm not a big fan of the |B|o|o|k|e|e|n| and CyBOOK logos, and the grey stripe isn't to my taste, but I'm not an industrial designer...) I love the way it is super light, and I don't think of it as "flimsy" in the least. And now that I'm in the 'rhythm' of page turning, I hardly ever end up pressing the button without turning the page, even when I'm skipping past pages of David Weber political 'analysis'...
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Old 12-30-2007, 09:45 AM   #13
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I'm with Harry on this one - I don't think it looks "cheap" because of the plastic. (I agree that the front button is slightly cheesy, I'm not a big fan of the |B|o|o|k|e|e|n| and CyBOOK logos, and the grey stripe isn't to my taste, but I'm not an industrial designer...) I love the way it is super light, and I don't think of it as "flimsy" in the least. And now that I'm in the 'rhythm' of page turning, I hardly ever end up pressing the button without turning the page, even when I'm skipping past pages of David Weber political 'analysis'...
In the brown leather case it looks great - like a high-class leather-bound book. With the case closed you wouldn't know it was an electronic device at all. It's the nicest case I've seen on all the bookreaders I've owned - and that's a LOT .
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Old 12-30-2007, 11:43 AM   #14
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Thanks. I guess I need to study up on the e-book conversion tool for the Mac, to see if I would be able to generate books in the right format.

It's a shame about the Cybook, because the feature list (dictionaries, fonts, PDF landscape mode etc.) make it so appealing. If Sony would just add Mobi support, the decision would be easy.
What is a shame is that you're hearing, uncontested, the whole ebooks-must-be-heavy-with-tons-of-bling mode of thinking.

Yes, I bought a Sony PRS-500 before I received my Cybook. In fact, I'd owned the PRS500 for about a month and a half without anything to compare it to. So when I got the Cybook, the sheer LIGHTNESS of it made me think 'cheap' also. Then one day, about two weeks after purchase - and please remember that I received no softcover and still do not have one - I dropped my Cybook about four feet to my tile floor. While it was running.

Now a CHEAP and FLIMSY product would have been a goner right then and there - shattered into a hundred pieces. I'm happy to say that I picked it up, dreading to turn it over and look at the screen, and flipped it to find the screen still on, no cracks or missing chunks in the case and the Cybook obediently turned to the next page when I paged forward. When I turned it off and back on, the Cybook acted as nothing had happened.

It's been three months now and the only thing I've noticed is that a single column of pixels went dead, indicating that that particular contact broke. That's it! And you have to understand I have an 'engineering sample', not a production version. (Which boils down to having a glossy finish instead of matte.) So I don't buy the argument the Cybook is cheap and flimsy.

What most die-hard PRS users don't understand is that heavier is not always better.

And the Cybook has much better font-sizing and font-family capabilities. Combined with the control layout, I just plain LIKE the Cybook better. Plus, I get to read Mobipocket ebooks, straight from the e-stores.

Oh sure, I want more ebook formats supported, I want a better ebook navigation (folders, sub-folders, sorting by Author, etc.) system. I want better support for the multiple-html-file ebooks and for PDF files. There are things I'd like to see improved. And I really want to see Bookeen release an SDK for the Cybook. But I still think this is a better ebook reader.

Derek
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Old 12-30-2007, 04:36 PM   #15
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Well I have had the Gen3 6 day's now and have read 14 books on it (nothing like a few day's off work to catch up on reading).

I don't mind the Gen3 being lightweight it is easier to hold for extended periods of time one handed, this is one of the things I like about the Gen3.

I still find the 4 way button for page turning and selecting clunky, it does not have a smooth reliable operation. I often find when I page forward that the power diode lights up but the page does not turn, it stays on until I press the button again. I hope that the durability of the button is good.

I think I will go with Harry's advice and give the leather case a go, though this is a bit on the expensive side once you start adding on the Fedex shipping cost.

I agree with delphidb96, I want better ebook navigation (folders, sub-folders, sorting by Author, etc.) system.
Displaying the book liburary with thumbnails looks good, however this is no good if you are not able to read the title and author of the book, which you can not do if you show 10 or 20 books to a page.

Chris.
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