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Old 01-07-2014, 02:22 PM   #1
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Comfortable linear reading

Apologies in advance for the long post. I am trying to decide if I should give up my trusty Sony PRS-505 for something modern.

About me:

An e-book reader since the first Palm Pilot in 1997.

I almost exclusively read linear text with the occasional illustration such as novels and non-fiction bestsellers, ie: no textbooks, scientific papers or anything like that. I have settled on epub format (although I do have some legacy mobi and lit books).

I care most about the in-book reading experience, with the speed and convenience of navigation coming close behind.

By in-book reading experience, I mean things like:
  • clear and high contrast screen. I understand most modern reader use the same Pearl screen, but while I haven't been able to do back-to-back comparisons, the Sony T3 looks much clearer to me than the Kobo Aura for example. I think this is partly due to the extra layers on the Kobo for the light guide and capacitive touch, but seems also partly due to the firmware of the Kobo
  • good font rendering, justification, hyphenation, graphics and grey scale conversion (for eink devices), good handling of widows, orphans and rivers etc. I am guessing I will have no luck on this front as most companies will just use Adobe's software or something Webkit based? Good looking built-in fonts would be a plus. I think I like Sony's the most for clarity, but again, haven't been able to do back-to-back comparisons.
  • display customisability. It would be nice to be able to use user-loaded fonts and to adjust margins, justification, line spacing, paragraph spacing and indentation on the fly. I have been doing this by hand editing epubs and using custom stylesheets and fonts for my Sony (this way I don't have the issue of all my books looking the same either).
  • lightweight hardware. The lighter it is, the easier it is to hold one-handed or for long periods
    .

Speed and convenience of navigation:
  • easy one handed page turns. I read a lot while standing on the bus or in other situations where I am holding the ereader in only one hand. I don't want to have to do a swipe or anything like that to change the page
  • clean UI. Will the UI stay out of my way and just be optimised on letting me find my book, open it, and start reading? I don't particularly want to waste screen space on ads, recommendations, achievements etc.

    Can I jump to the chapter I want quickly? How about hunting for a particular page if I left off reading on another device?
  • good sorting options would be nice. Things like alphabetical and by authour of course, but also by page count, file size, time loaded, last read.
  • fast. When I flip through my list of books, will this be as fast as the e-ink can update itself? Will the device make me wait while it re-scans it's storage space to find new books etc. I hate getting bogged down while my Sony tries to render a large or complicated book cover or other illustration.

Nice to have:
  • Support for other formats like RTF or PDF for when I am feeling lazy about converting. I don't particularly like Calibre's generated HTML so I do conversions by hand.
  • Lots of sideloading options. Dropbox integration would be my ideal, but SD card and USB mass storage are OK too.
  • Overdrive built in would be convenient for library books.
  • Lighted display maybe? I try not to read in environments where it is too dark to read a printed book so I'm not sure how helpful this is apart from the occasional twilight/cloudy day.
  • Wikipedia support maybe? I don't find included dictionaries to be all that useful, but Wikipedia might be nice for added context.

Don't care:

Most of the innovation in readers seems to be around things I don't care about.
  • Lack of eink flashes. I'd prefer the page background to be as white as possible and the text to be as dark as possible over marginally faster page turns. From what I have seen in the store, I think you get some ghosting if you don't refresh the screen enough. You could convince me otherwise though.

    I have been reading on eink long enough that my mind no longer even sees the page turn anyway.
  • Store. Between the library, Mobileread and Munsey's my reading list grows faster than I can keep up, so I buy very few books nowadays. The only seller I have given any significant amount of money to is Baen because of their no-DRM policy.
  • Dictionary, highlighting, annotations etc.
  • Web browsing and other internet integration like Evernote, Facebook, Pocket etc.
  • Audiobooks, mp3, speech to text
  • Additional book context like Kindle's XRay and Kobo's similar feature
  • 3G or wifi (unless I get integration with Dropbox or other cloud storage)
  • synchronizing your page and book read across multiple devices and apps. I do this manually and don't find it to be any hardship.
  • Massive built in memory. I want lots of RAM because that seems to help with fast rendering, long chapters and complex graphics, but I don't care too much about book storage. I try to keep under twenty or thirty books on hand at any time so I am not paralyzed by choice when opening the next book.
  • Series, collection or tag support. Since I don't have too many books at once on the device these don't make a big difference to my navigation.

Last edited by radius; 01-07-2014 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 01-07-2014, 04:48 PM   #2
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Well, the Kindle has a very clean UI. I absolutely despised the home screen for the Nook the one time I borrowed it from a friend for comparison -- IIRC it divides the home screen into recommendations, and separate links to your last read book and to your main library view. I gave up right there. The Kindle doesn't mess around with that -- the home screen lists your books directly. And it allows you to turn off the new recommendations "feature" on the cover view -- I respect that a lot. My KT seems very responsive, and Amazon has a reputation for rock-solid firmware stability, so that is probably to be expected.

Navigation: one tap on top to open the menu popup, another tap to select the Go TO menu, which lists all chapters (with nested ToC support) as well as a "Beginning" link and an option to specify a location number (not very helpful) or a page number (only if the book supports this via the sidecar file. Most books bought from Amazon will have one.)

Book sorting in:
  • library view -- your options are Collections/Title/Author/Recent. inside collections, you can sort by Recent/Title/Author.
  • search view -- Number of Hits/Recent/Title/Author.

Sideloading via browser download, Send to Kindle, or USB sideloading. USBNetwork hack can add books through SSH over WiFi. limited format support.

Highlight any word and in addition to getting dictionary definition, it will offer you the Wikipedia page as well. This is also allowed over 3G (Amazon WhisperNet) in supported devices.

Overdrive is pretty built in -- you can access their site via the browser and connect a book directly to your Amazon account, it is by far the most seamless OverDrive experience -- if the book is available, but many of their books gained Kindle support recently.


BUT there are very few customizable options for your reading experience. Kindles are designed for clarity and the least number of confusing options. I guess they should "just work".
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Old 01-09-2014, 09:58 AM   #3
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USBNetwork hack can add books through SSH over WiFi. limited format support.
Hi eschwartz, thanks for the info. I was under the mistaken impression that Kindles had their own borrowing system and didn't connect to Overdrive. And I didn't realize from playing with it in the store that you could turn off recommendations.

I was wondering if in the above quote you meant that you can only add limited formats through SSH? Or is that two separate sentences saying that you can use SSH to sideload and that the Kindle supports limited formats in general? (I don't like the original Mobi format from way back when, but I understand the current Kindle format is much improved)
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Old 01-09-2014, 02:47 PM   #4
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Hi eschwartz, thanks for the info. I was under the mistaken impression that Kindles had their own borrowing system and didn't connect to Overdrive. And I didn't realize from playing with it in the store that you could turn off recommendations.
They DO have their own borrowing system, but integrated with OverDrive. Basically, you have to download an acsm to open in Adobe Digital Editions, and from there you can authorize your reader with a book, etc. for most readers,... Or "download" as a link to the Kindle Store, and it's part of your library till the loan expires. After which it is still there, but you can't read it till you buy it/check it out again. A clever way to lure people into buying more books.

Then there is the Kindle Owners Lending Library, but that's just one book per month, from Amazon. (For Amazon Prime owners.) And you can lend a book you own to a friend, (once only,) but Barnes & Noble allows you to do this too, and possibly Kobo for all I know...
Quote:
I was wondering if in the above quote you meant that you can only add limited formats through SSH? Or is that two separate sentences saying that you can use SSH to sideload and that the Kindle supports limited formats in general? (I don't like the original Mobi format from way back when, but I understand the current Kindle format is much improved)
SSH is just a way to connect to the filesystem remotely. It is the Kindle that does not support many formats. The Kindle can natively read (Amazon_Kindle#Format_support_by_device):
  • .mobi (KF7) -- the old mobi format that has some, um, problems. It might also have the file extension .azw or .prc
  • .azw3 (KF8) -- the successor to .mobi which is the official Kindle books format, except for old book which haven't been updated by the publisher.
  • .txt -- plain text files don't need an explanation.
  • .pdf -- PDFs can be read, but they don't look too good on a 6-inch screen, now do they?

epubs, html, doc(x) and GIF/PNG/BMP pictures can be converted by Amazon's Send to Kindle service. I have also heard that an html page with a .txt file extension will load directly as a plaintext document (it IS) but still receive html formatting.

There are jailbreak hacks that can read epubs on the Kindle, as well as the alternative Duokan OS.

Last edited by eschwartz; 01-20-2014 at 04:46 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:54 PM   #5
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Argh. Went to try Kindle some more in the store, and all the ones I saw have the settings menu locked down so you can't really play with it.
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:50 AM   #6
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They DO have their own borrowing system, but integrated with OverDrive.
Only in the US, though, and the OP has given us no indication which country he is in.
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Old 01-20-2014, 02:54 PM   #7
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Oops, sorry. For some reason I thought my location showed in the sidebar but I must have missed setting it in my profile.

This user is presently living in Canada.

I've played some more with the PW2 and I think the screen looks sharper than Kobo's, but I don't really like the included fonts, and I'm not that impressed with the rendering on either of them. I had hoped that typesetting and the "look" of ebooks would improve over time, but progress seems slow.
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:50 PM   #8
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Only in the US, though, and the OP has given us no indication which country he is in.
Whoops.

I've been trying to remember to make that qualification, with limited success. Since I live in the US and it works just fine, I often forget to take other locations into account. But I'm working on it.
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Old 01-25-2014, 11:19 PM   #9
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I am very happy with my Sony T3. I bought the no cover one for $79 and bought the lighted cover later because it was on sale for $29.

The light is good, but I preferred the lack of cover for holding. The reason I kept the cover is the on/off sleep function. Very convenient.

Works very well and I rarely use any of my other readers now,

Helen
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Old 02-04-2014, 02:32 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing your experience Helen.
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Old 02-08-2014, 10:44 AM   #11
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These answers are about the Kobo Aura HD from someone who's never owned another eReader

clear and high contrast screen.
I find the clarity fine, I'm fairly picky (I turn off font anti-aliasing on my computer because it looks too blurry). The contrast isn't quite as good at paper, but the frontlight clears up any problems of that nature without making the screen annoying to read.

The HD doesn't have the capacity layer of the aura (and does have better DPI) though.

good font rendering, justification, hyphenation, graphics and grey scale conversion
The complaints I have here are

Only half the available fonts handle greek characters (and presumably other non-ASCII characters) and my favourite font (Kobo Nickel) isn't one of them.

There's no separate top and side margins. When reading with the light above you the top part of the surround often casts a shadow large enough to obscure the first line of text if you set up margins sufficient at the sides. It's easy enough to read from a tilted device though, so this is a very minor annoyance.

I haven't yet come across the option to disable the page number at the bottom of the screen, which I don't want to see for fiction so is just wasting space.

display customisability. It would be nice to be able to use user-loaded fonts and to adjust margins, justification, line spacing, paragraph spacing and indentation on the fly.
Apart from the last two that's all possible.

lightweight hardware
It's lighter than a book, for me that's all that's required.

easy one handed page turns
You can use gestures at any point on the screen to go backwards and forwards and they don't have to be particularly long so it's easy to change pages one handed.

clean UI. While it is shown on the default home screen it can all be dismissed with a long press except for the sync button. By default the home screen shows recently opened functions and books.

One minor quibble is that the library is two clicks away rather than one by default. While there is a library tile that can appear on the home page to bring it one click away I haven't found any way to ensure it stays there rather than getting displaced if you open a lot of other stuff.

Can I jump to the chapter I want quickly? How about hunting for a particular page if I left off reading on another device?
There's a table of contents button as well as buttons to go back/forward a chapter. There is also a slider to jump about in the book but it's not particularly precise and as far as I know you can't enter a specific page number to jump to.

good sorting options would be nice. Things like alphabetical and by authour of course, but also by page count, file size, time loaded, last read.

You can filter by:
Reading
Unread
Finished

You can sort by:
Recently Read, Title, Author, File Size, File Type

You can show books as a list with covers and information (title, author, status, format, size) or as covers-only.

I believe you can create collections (both on the device and in calibre) to subdivide your library but I haven't got round to this yet.

fast.
I've not put too much on there yet (36 files) but I've not had a problem so far. I've tried the 13MB epub version of Project Gutenberg's Vitruvius and the 400 page pdf format Dominions 4 manual and have no speed complaints of either. If there are any freely available files you'd like me to try I'd be happy to do so.

Support for other formats like RTF or PDF
I don't think LIT works (although I haven't actually tried it) but Mobi, PRC, ePub, PDF and RTF all seem to run fine.

Lots of sideloading options.
I did hear there was some issue with things not being correctly recorded if you loaded them on directly (causing issues if you had multiple files with the same title) but calibre supports it so you can get it on through their even if directly copying it over isn't suitable.

It supports Micro SDHC cards, but doesn't seem to support exFAT (for SDXC cards of 64GB and higher).

Overdrive built in would be convenient for library books.
Not tried yet, but my local UK library using Overdrive claims Kobos are supported.

Lighted display maybe?
The light is very good, while a standard light is preferably to completely darkness with the front light on it's definitely useful for all those marginal situations like reading in a car.

Wikipedia support maybe? I don't find included dictionaries to be all that useful
Wikipedia and the ability to add your own dictionaries.

I have been reading on eink long enough that my mind no longer even sees the page turn anyway.
I've had it for a month and I don't see it, definitely one of those aspects that's now good enough for most people.

Store.
Kobo aren't perfect on the storefront side, but if you do decide to buy then the vast majority of their books are usable on other eReaders unlike B&N and Amazon.
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Old 02-08-2014, 11:26 AM   #12
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Just to let you know. The Sony T3 is on sale again for $79 and the lighted cover for $29.

The HD is nicer for most people, but I read a book on mine last week and I was very happy to return to the T3.

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Old 02-12-2014, 09:41 AM   #13
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Sorry, no suggestion, just that I'm in that same situation of moving from a beloved 505 to something else and I want to keep a watch over this thread by having updates in my CP feed. Posting in the thread is the only way I know to do this.

Feel free to do the same to my thread!
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:43 PM   #14
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:04 AM   #15
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Thanks, eschwartz! Didn't know that.
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