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Old 10-11-2009, 03:45 PM   #1
nvarsj
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My biased thoughts on the PRS-300, PRS-600, Kindle, and how I ended up with a 505

I'm a lurker around here. I've been wanting an e-reader for a while, and with the recent drop in prices decided time was ripe to get one. These forums helped me quite a lot, and I hope my experience will help other potential ereaders.

The Kindle 1 was something I had on my wish list for a long time. The biggest showstopper for me was the DRM. I hoped that amazon would negotiate more flexible terms with publishers, but it did not happen. My ill-founded hope was based on amazon's great drm-free mp3 albums. I lost all hope after the ironic news that Amazon had silently removed copies of 1984 from people's Kindles due to a publisher dispute. So a kindle became a non-option for me after that.

My interest in Sony e-readers was piqued after a friend of mine got one. He had a massive selection of free domain books he was reading, and this seemed very cool.

See, I like crisp, legible fonts. My favorite books are big hardcovers, with beautiful, luxurious fonts that are wonderful on the eyes. Reading a text file on my computer screen just never cut it for me - and so I ended up resorting to grudgingly spending 10-20 bucks at the bookstore for a print version of a public domain work I could have downloaded for free.

I'm similarly annoyed by mass market paperbacks, with their annoyingly tiny fonts, bad print quality, faded pages, and all the other crap that somehow passes for quality in the publishing industry.

Crap, somehow this turned into a rant. Back on topic.

Anyways, I had the notion of buying an ebook reader in the back of my mind for quite some time. Recently I saw the new PRS-300/600 models from Sony - 200 bucks for a brand new ereader!

After convincing my wife about the money I would save on ebooks, I headed down to Best Buy and checked out the two models. Next to the 300, the 600 screen looked washed out - as if I was reading through a slightly opaque piece of plastic (which indeed I was, this is the touchscreen). The 300 by comparison looked damned good. I was extremely impressed by its readability.

So I spent about 10 minutes in the store reading an exerpt from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is preloaded on the 300. Although it looks great, I became frustrated with how little text fits on the screen. Using the largest font (which is slightly smaller than most hardcover books, I think), results in about 3 words per line, and only a few sentences per page (this is from memory, so I may be inaccurate here).

I really felt like I was reading a book on an index card, and it was uncomfortable. Perhaps it is a personal thing, but it just felt too small. I switched to reading for a bit on the 600's screen, despite its defects. Now, the 600's screen size felt perfect. I think that 6" is the sweet spot here, and probably why designers picked it in the first place for the kindle.

Despite the size, I still couldn't stand the 600's screen. So I resigned myself to getting the 300 - it didn't seem there was a better option on the market, and I didn't want to spend more than 200 bucks on an ereader. I figured I would spend a month trying it, and return it if the size really was unbearable.

On my trip back to Best Buy, I stopped at Walmart to see if they had any 300s in stock - better return policy and all. I asked the guy at the counter, he said they had 1 left, and came back with a dust covered 505 box.

Now I didn't know much about the 505, other than it was a 6" screen with similar characteristics to the 300. I also knew from looking online the retail for it was still around $300 (more than I wanted to spend...). I asked him to check the price - 219$. For a brand new 505... so I went for it.

I've been using my 505 for a week now on the train and at home, and I have to say I'm extremely happy with it. Even at large font, plenty of text fits on the screen. It's easy to read, the leather cover looks and feels very nice, and I'm more than happy with the control placement. I find myself holding it in the middle with my right hand a lot, using my thumb on the left control. Of course this varies depending on my position, but it feels good regardless. It would be perfect if the buttons didn't require as much force to press - perhaps this will improve over time.

So that's my story. Sony has gained another happy 505 user. :-)
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Old 10-11-2009, 05:23 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvarsj View Post
Using the largest font (which is slightly smaller than most hardcover books, I think)
That's odd-- on my 300, the largest font makes text larger than that on the special large print books intended for the near-blind.
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Old 10-11-2009, 10:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ardeegee View Post
That's odd-- on my 300, the largest font makes text larger than that on the special large print books intended for the near-blind.
Ditto. I read ebooks at the Small font size (most lrf/lrx and converted files) and Medium (pdf files that have tiny print and huge margins in Small mode), on both my 505 and 300. I never use the Large font size, which is much bigger than any regular printed text (books/magazines).
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:46 AM   #4
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I use Medium & Small too on my 300, but the actual fontsize on the reader depends on the sourcefile (which i find weird.
Before I bought the 300 I was afraid as a fast reader the limited text per page (less then half that of a small pocketbook) would hinder my reading, but the strange thing is, I seem to read even faster an with less fatigue from my PRS300 then from paper, perhaps less 'where was I?' searchtime?
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:37 PM   #5
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I plowed through 370 pages in about three days with my 300, and it blew my mind. It's so much easier to just push one button to turn a page.
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:48 AM   #6
sigmax
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Uhm... I think there is something wrong with evaluating the prs300 and prs505 on "quantity of text" inside the screen, as both screens have exactly the same resolution thus exactly the same text rendering capabilities.

You should not "see" more or less text, given same font size, because switching between prs300 and 505 ...

If anything, prs300 should be sharper because pixels are more "compressed" which I find desirable on 5" screens...

CORRECTION: I see on another post, that given same book, zoom, page, the prs300 show 17 text lines, while the prs505 shows 25 textlines.

It seems then that the font used in the prs300 is slightly larger than the prs505.

I cannot wait for my prs300 to arrive. I should change its fonts (if there is a font hack available -I will have to search).

The fact that both screens share the same resolution, would allow me to have the exact same experience as I had in my prs505, with the prs300 provided I can upload the very same font! ... I will only read in a smaller screen.

Regards,
Sigmax.

Last edited by sigmax; 10-14-2009 at 12:54 AM. Reason: I was somewhat wrong: fonts are different.
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dura View Post
Before I bought the 300 I was afraid as a fast reader the limited text per page (less then half that of a small pocketbook) would hinder my reading, but the strange thing is, I seem to read even faster an with less fatigue from my PRS300 then from paper, perhaps less 'where was I?' searchtime?
Your eyes also don't have to 'scan' as much left-to-right as you read, which can help to absorb lines of text with less fatigue (maybe?).

Quote:
Originally Posted by sigmax View Post
Uhm... I think there is something wrong with evaluating the prs300 and prs505 on "quantity of text" inside the screen, as both screens have exactly the same resolution thus exactly the same text rendering capabilities.

You should not "see" more or less text, given same font size, because switching between prs300 and 505 ...

If anything, prs300 should be sharper because pixels are more "compressed" which I find desirable on 5" screens...

CORRECTION: I see on another post, that given same book, zoom, page, the prs300 show 17 text lines, while the prs505 shows 25 textlines.

It seems then that the font used in the prs300 is slightly larger than the prs505.

I cannot wait for my prs300 to arrive. I should change its fonts (if there is a font hack available -I will have to search).

The fact that both screens share the same resolution, would allow me to have the exact same experience as I had in my prs505, with the prs300 provided I can upload the very same font! ... I will only read in a smaller screen.

Regards,
Sigmax.
The font sizes on the 300 and 505 for a given file are pretty darn close to being the same. The 300 does display right around 5/6 the amount of text per line, and 5/6 the number of lines per screen as compared with the 505. So, the 300 shows about 2/3 of the text on one screen of the 505.

The only exception I can think of is for non-reflowed pdf files (S font size), where the entire pdf page will be displayed on either screen. I find the margins are usually too big, and the text too small, on most pdf's without reflow, so I have to bump it up to M size for reading.

If you want more/smaller text on the 300's screen, you can use Calibre to convert formats and reduce the default font size. Although I believe Calibre still doesn't accept lrf format as input files.

Note the above comments though: ease and speed of reading do not seem to be reduced by the smaller screen with a bit less text. I would generally agree with this observation based on my own experience. I can report that there is no impairment of the reading 'experience' when switching from the 505 to the 300.

Last edited by DrMoze; 10-14-2009 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 10-18-2009, 12:10 PM   #8
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DrMoze. I read with much interest your comments. My prs300 is about to be here (a friend of mine is returning from USA over these days with it). I only have the prs505 reference, which was my former reader. I hope I made the right decision It seems so.

Regards! sigmaX
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Old 10-29-2009, 08:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvarsj View Post
I'm a lurker around here. I've been wanting an e-reader for a while, and with the recent drop in prices decided time was ripe to get one. These forums helped me quite a lot, and I hope my experience will help other potential ereaders.

[...]

After convincing my wife about the money I would save on ebooks, I headed down to Best Buy and checked out the two models. Next to the 300, the 600 screen looked washed out - as if I was reading through a slightly opaque piece of plastic (which indeed I was, this is the touchscreen). The 300 by comparison looked damned good. I was extremely impressed by its readability.
This is the exact reason why I bought a PRS-300 instead of a PRS-600. Like you, I would have preferred a bit larger screen, but I find I'm doing okay with the smaller screen of the PRS-300. In my view, a device that has a display the size of an index card has your average PDA beat where ease of reading is concerned.

Glad to hear you're happy with your PRS-505. My boss has one, and she just loves it.

Last edited by GizmoPlanet; 10-29-2009 at 08:48 AM. Reason: Forgot to add a sentence
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