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Old 04-05-2011, 07:24 PM   #1
Prestidigitweeze
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Silver, Pearl and the Aesthetics of Reading

Today I walked over to BestBuy intending to purchase a PRS-350. While there, I had a look at the current nest of Nooks as well.

I liked the touch screen and size of the 350 but was surprised to find the text a bit dull. Logically, this made no sense -- after all, the latest Readers use the best eInk screen currently available and are known for having superior contrast -- until I realized I found it unpleasant to focus on an eInk screen surrounded by shiny silver. It was a distraction similar to that of the Nook's color strip UI, which I find unusable in its focus-diverting proximity to the black and white screen.

What I want is an ePub reader with an enclosure so dark that the relative whiteness of the screen stands out, as it does on the Kindle graphite. Whatever their other virtues, current eInk displays are perilously close to beige.

If the PRS350 were made of black aluminum, I'd have bought one right there. But the mere fact it was silver made me worry about maintaining my concentration over time. One doesn't watch a movie screen with a bright light in the background. For me, the contrast of the silver creates a similar effect.

One solution might be to skin one's Pocket Reader; no doubt Decal Girl has that covered. But then what is the point of having an aluminum Reader at all?

I fully expected the aesthetics of the Sony to win me over. I walked away realizing that an aesthetically desirable ePub reader doesn't seem to exist for me currently. The Sony is the closest thing to one, but I'm willing to wait for the next iteration.

Perhaps Samsung's new Series 9 laptops will give Sony ideas.

(Imagine how transparent the Readers' UI would be if it were designed by Fumito Ueda.)

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 04-06-2011 at 04:51 AM. Reason: Omitted a redundancy.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:45 PM   #2
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Ah, but did you look at the 650? The black aluminum really does fade into the background, and the 650 comes in black. Having read a silver 505, I only found the silver to be an issue in bright sunlight, when the sun hit it.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:53 PM   #3
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Yes, I have a black Kobo with an attractive black skin cover! I liked the beautiful coloured covers, but for practical reading black is a winner. I often read outdoors in our very dry sunny climate and a reflective metal cover would be very distracting. The only colour that would probably be better on the eyes would be a very dark charcoal grey. My Asus netbook is white, but the screen surround is black. However, I find the white keyboard very easy to see.
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Old 04-05-2011, 08:03 PM   #4
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Funny how different tastes are, mine are both silver, I love them.

There is a dark blue 350 manufactured for Europe. Either buy it over here or grab one at ebay.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:32 PM   #5
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While I don't mind the silver at all, I would have done anything to get a blue one, but I'm in the US. But I took the advice of other users and put a very dark black/blue skin on my silver reader thinking that when reading in the summer it probably would be an issue. Plus even now in spring I notice at times the reader gets pretty warm to the touch when sitting in direct sun. The vinyl skin helps that problem, I suspect it would be quite a bit worse in the middle of summer.
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Old 04-05-2011, 10:04 PM   #6
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I would prefer black too. My solution was to install a DecalGirl skin on my 950 and buy the 350 in pink. If you want black that much, then I would look for the 650.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:51 AM   #7
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I also think the background colour of the screen should be better. Why not just a plain white screen? Or perhaps the use of e-ink technology prevents that.
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:08 AM   #8
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If you don't want to skin, you could get one of the cases that cover the frame, like this one of many:
http://www.amazon.com/Tuff-Luv-Leath.../dp/B00494G76Y

It's a quandary for me -
On one hand, I love the look of the silver frame, so I don't want a cover like that, because it would hide it.
On the other hand, when I'm reading, it reflects the light so much, I have to cover that spot with a piece of velvet.

Aside from the glare, I think the reason the screen doesn't look as good on the Sonys is the font. It's ..thin. My Kindle has a white frame, and the text still stands out better than on my Sony's screen.

The font can be changed if we install PRS+, but I'm waiting for it to be more ready. If there's another way, I'd love a tip.
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:19 AM   #9
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Two of my readers are silver, and I hate that silver part in them.
Border being the brightest part of the reader makes no sense whatsoever!!!

Current solutions seems to be putting it into black cover (which is not a solution if you want great cover with light from Sony) or buying overpriced silicon skins. Well, or ugly black tape.
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piper_ View Post
The font can be changed if we install PRS+, but I'm waiting for it to be more ready. If there's another way, I'd love a tip.
I agree with you that the fonts make a big difference to how the text looks on the screen between the Sony, Kindle, Nook, etc. You don't need to install PRS+ for your non-DRM'ed books. Just follow the instructions in the PDF attachment of the first post of the thread link below. That's what I do! I have settled on Lexia DaMa and Charis SIL as my favorite alternate fonts to the Sony defaults. They are both available for free.
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=98618
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:51 AM   #11
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Thanks, Bookworm_Girl! Saved to play with tomorrow.
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Old 04-06-2011, 04:22 AM   #12
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Piper: I was just looking at the TuffLuv cover before leaving for BestBuy, since I'm not sure how I feel about the pleather (or whatever it is) on that $49.00 Sony cover with the light.

It's kind of adorable that you cover the silver glare with a little piece of velvet. Some day, perhaps we'll be able to train genetically enhanced miniature chinchillas to lie there just so.

Bookworm_Girl: I appreciate the tip on font substitution, since I, too, noticed I preferred the ones installed on the Kindle (and even the Nook). Generally, the Sony seems the most flexible and best-made ePub reader, which is why I was sad to find the silver so troubling.

Polly and B_G: The 650, too, was silver at my local BestBuy. I'm thinking of visiting the Sony Style store in midtown to see how I like the black option in person, and whether the increase in size and cost would prove worth it.

Poppaea: Wouldn't purchasing a blue 350 from Germany, as per your great suggestion, bring me perilously close to the cost of a 650 (unless, P., you're aware of a deal that would justify the additional shipping and so forth)? 350s can be had for $129 in the States, and the black 650's $229 at the mome. If the blue 350 turned out to be closer to $179 and then had expensive shipping and duties on top of that, wouldn't the total cost approach the 650's? Of course, if I did chance upon a used blue 350, or a 350 that truly cost $179 with no additional fees, I'd pick it up.

Fortissimo: I'd wager that virtually everyone on this thread would prefer their eInk screens to be as ivory-colored as a fresh printed page and the text to be even blacker. When a color eInk screen makes its way to the market, I'll be interested to see what happens to that background color.

Kartu: It makes me happy that I'm far from alone in my avoidance of silver, and I thank you for affirming that, but I'll have to pass on the idea of putting black tape on an expensive eReader with an attractive aluminum casement.

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 04-13-2011 at 06:05 AM.
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:38 AM   #13
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I used black decalgirl skins for both my 350 and 950 (my 650 is already black) and the result is nice on the 950, though I don't feel it made the contrast seem better. The 350 was pink so the result is average to me.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:11 AM   #14
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Huh, I never even thought about (or noticed) the bezel on my 950 being silver. Funny what different people notice/are picky about.

I did have issue with the font and am Very glad that PRS+ allowed me to use a better font on a global level
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Old 04-09-2011, 06:07 PM   #15
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It seems the 650 is out of stock everywhere, including the Sony store, unless you're willing to pay ridiculous prices or will settle for silver. I intend to pick one up later -- or some newer dark model if the black 650 sells out before everyone's final sales.

Tried the 350 in-store again and couldn't go back to the Kindle alone -- not after experiencing the convenience and less passive options of the 350. I suppose I'll be skinning it shortly and perhaps adding CFW, since I didn't update the OFW.

(My guess is that Sony went with silver thinking that Americans are obsessed with Apple laptops and forgetting those screens are backlit and in color.)

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 04-09-2011 at 06:10 PM.
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