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Old 01-18-2010, 06:49 PM   #1
Nate the great
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Sony Daily Edition review

This review is fairly long (1400+ words)so I'm going to split it into 2 parts. The second half will be the first response to the topic.

Sony lent me a Daily Edition at CES so I could write this review. I used it during my commute to CES every day and then on the plane ride home. Now that I've had a week I think it's an interesting device. I wouldn't buy one, but I can see why it might suit someone else.

Periodicals
I prefer RSS feeds as my news sources, so I don't usually read newspapers. But I bought and downloaded a couple issues, and I'm glad I did. Periodicals are one of the Daily Edition's better features.

First of all, periodicals are listed separate from other ebooks; there's a separate tab on the main page. I like that because it makes them easier to find. The newspapers are organized by the publication's title and then by date. You can sort them by issue date or latest read. Another feature I like is that you can decide how much of a back list you want to keep for each publication. You can also decide to protect editions from being deleted.

The reading experience was also pretty good. You lose a small amount of space at the bottom of the screen to a menu with 4 buttons: Previous, Section Top, Table of Contents, Next. The Next and Previous buttons serve a dual purpose; if you're on the first page of a section (Metro, Lifestyle, Commentary, etc), you'll see Next/Previous Section. But if you're in the middle of a section, you'll see Next/Previous Article.

There is also a rather odd feature I want to point out. There is no image mode on the Daily Edition; you can't select an image and have it appear full screen. But there is a zoom option (in Epub), and it works nicely for enlarging an image. I've tried it with a number of images, and either all these images are high resolution or the Daily Edition is doing a bang-up job at interpolation.

It would be nice, though, if I could double click on an image and have it zoom automatically. HINT, HINT, SONY.

Epub
I much preferred my own collection; the ones I bought from Sony had margins at least twice as wide and were fully justified.

PDF
I've never liked how Sony handled zoom; I think the zoom should be consistent across page turns. But the Daily Edition has a new autocrop option, and for the most part it resolved the issue. I tried a couple academic PDFs, and the autocrop showed me a page that was good enough to scan the contents and look at the equations and graphs (both of which are lost in reflow mode).

I'm not sure but I suspect that Sony doesn't expect the user to stay in zoom mode. I think they expect you to spend all your time in the reflow mode. This makes little sense for complex PDFs, though.

The Sony Store
As you probably know, you can buy ebooks directly from the Daily Edition. I see the value in that; now if only the experience weren't quite so unpleasant (on par with Sony's desktop software).

I bought several bundles, and it wasn't clear exactly which titles came in a bundle. Listing details so it can be found easily is a web design 101 topic; it's a shame that Sony hasn't learned it yet.

I expect the store to behave like it is being run in a web browser and it doesn't. Sony made a number of design decisions that confused me. For example, after buying a book I want to be able to go back to the page I was on (a list of a particular author's books, perhaps). I don't want to go back to the main store page; if I did I would use the options button and select “Store Home”.

There is a back arrow, but it's not a back button. All it will do after a purchase is take me to the shopping cart screen, which is weird because all the transactions are buy-it-now. I couldn't actually put anything in the cart, so I really have to ask why it was implemented?

There are no refunds for any purchases, and this concerns me. I'd be afraid to let anyone touch the Daily Edition because they might buy something without realizing it.
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:49 PM   #2
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Screen
Given the complaints about the PRS-700 when it was initially released, I'm sure the screen issue is a major concern. It's unfortunate that all of Sony's touch screen ebook readers will be stuck with that legacy.

I've compared the Daily Edition with the Boox lent to me by Onyx, and I can just barely see a difference in the screens. I used the Boox to compare because of the e-readers I have at hand, it had the best screen. The difference between the Boox and the Daily Edition is small enough that I can't be certain that I'm not imagining it. It wouldn't be a reason that I wouldn't get the Daily Edition.

Battery Life
I charged it Thursday night, and Friday morning (a week later) I got the low battery warning. I used it a lot during that week, but kept the wireless off aside from a couple minutes here and there. Needless to say, this is really disappointing. The spec sheet quotes the battery life as 2 weeks.

Wireless
I have mixed feeling about the wireless. Yes, it's nice to finally have a Sony device that has it, but it costs $140 more than the Kindle and Nook. I have trouble being enthusiastic about a feature when the competition can provide it for so much less. And besides, all it's good for is connecting to the Sony Store.

The case
I really like the zippered case made for the Daily Edition by Caselogic. It's solidly made and well padded.

But it is also quite large. It's about an inch taller, 2” wider, and about 3 times as thick as the Daily Edition. If it were a soft case, then I would think it contains a netbook. Seriously, I have a zipper pouch for a 7” netbook and it has about the same footprint as the Daily Edition case. My issue with the case is that if you use it, you'll be stuck with the bulkiness issues of a larger screen reader without the benefit of the larger screen.

The Manual
The manual is 200+ pages long, and there is no quick start guide. This is a problem because there are shortcuts that involve the touchscreen, and I didn't find them until after someone told me. For example, you can bookmark a page by double clicking in the upper right hand corner. I tried a single click, and when that didn't work I assumed the feature wasn't there.

I wish someone had told me that double clicking is the trick behind all of the onscreen shortcuts. For example, you can double click on a word to look it up in the dictionary.

Usability
My minimum requirement for ergonomics is a one handed operation. It's possible to use the Daily Edition with one hand, but I'm not comfortable with it. When I'm holding the DE so my thumb is over the page turn button, I don't feel like I have a good grip on the unit. It does look nice, though.

Bugs
I encountered several bugs, not all important. The font size isn't consistent between portrait, landscape, and 2 page view. It's a minor matter, but it bugs me. When reading in landscape mode, the last 2 or 3 pixels of the first or last line are often cut off the edge of the screen. It might not bother you, but for me it's jarring enough that I can't use landscape mode.

But there is a bug which, after some thought, made me question the design philosophy of the Sony Reader team. The Daily Edition tracks the time, date, and the time zone. Changing the time zone on the Daily Edition causes it to re-index my ebooks. Given that one can just ignore the time zone feature, this bug won't really impact most users. But it brings up an interesting question. What is the use in keeping track of the time zone, especially when there are only 6 options (the main 6 US time zones)? If you're going to track the time zone, shouldn't you have all of them (40 or so)? At the very least, shouldn't all the US time zones be offered (Arizona and Indiana, for example)?

A footnote: I had 600+ ebooks on the Daily Edition at the time, and it indexed them all in about 5 minutes. That was rather impressive.


My Opinion
I can see its good points; It is a nice reader. But I don't see what it provides that makes it worth $399.
  • direct access to the Sony Store
  • slightly larger screen
  • battery life is disappointing
  • handles newspapers well
  • store is difficult to navigate

Last edited by Nate the great; 01-19-2010 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:22 PM   #3
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Thanks for your detailed review.
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
There is a back arrow, but it's not a back button. All it will do after a purchase is take me to the shopping cart screen, which is weird because all the transactions are buy-it-now. I couldn't actually put anything in the cart, so I really have to ask why it was implemented?
It is a back button, but when you purchase using buy-it-now it for some reason puts a few extra pages as if you had used the cart into your history. It can be confusing there.

As for the cart, you had your account setup for buy-it-now. Kinda like iTunes, you get one or the other, the cart or buy-it-now for the whole account and you can switch between the two in your account settings. I'm not entirely sure which is the default, as I got the cart by default, but my Sony account has been around awhile too, I could have changed it.

EDIT: That said, otherwise a pretty reasonable one-week review. Not sure I agree with the battery life complaints (I was getting 2 weeks while turning the wireless on for a couple minutes each morning for the paper and leaving it off otherwise)... but you seeing 1 week could have been due to too many factors for me to sit here and argue about it.

Last edited by Kolenka; 01-19-2010 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:28 PM   #5
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Would it be possible to scan and post pictures of the what the Sony store looks like as well as a couple sample pages of the newspaper on the 900 screen?
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolenka View Post
It is a back button, but when you purchase using buy-it-now it for some reason puts a few extra pages as if you had used the cart into your history. It can be confusing there.

As for the cart, you had your account setup for buy-it-now. Kinda like iTunes, you get one or the other, the cart or buy-it-now for the whole account and you can switch between the two in your account settings. I'm not entirely sure which is the default, as I got the cart by default, but my Sony account has been around awhile too, I could have changed it.

EDIT: That said, otherwise a pretty reasonable one-week review. Not sure I agree with the battery life complaints (I was getting 2 weeks while turning the wireless on for a couple minutes each morning for the paper and leaving it off otherwise)... but you seeing 1 week could have been due to too many factors for me to sit here and argue about it.
I didn't set up the account; it came that way. And I did try to go back past the Cart but could not.
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:16 PM   #7
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I didn't set up the account; it came that way. And I did try to go back past the Cart but could not.
Well, that sounds like bad behavior with the history when buying a book then.
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:56 PM   #8
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Sounds like a mediocre device overall then? I'm not sure why Sony came in at that price point, many people would lean towards a slightly cheaper device affiliated with a renowned bookstore I think.
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:58 PM   #9
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Many thanks for the info I'm still interested in this reader, however there is no wifi options for Canada. I have just purchased the Viewsonic VEB 612W on ebay probably I will have to wait 2-3 week for delivery . Will post my impression on this when received.

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Old 01-19-2010, 06:35 PM   #10
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Sounds like a mediocre device overall then? I'm not sure why Sony came in at that price point, many people would lean towards a slightly cheaper device affiliated with a renowned bookstore I think.
The price point is driven primarily by: touch screen + 3G + screen size. With the screen being the majority of the additional cost.

The 6" displays are getting into that 'sweet spot' where everyone uses them, so they are cheaper because of the economies of scale involved, compared to the 7/8" screens (even then, these devices are still cheaper than the 9.7" screen-based devices which will be more common).

I've grown fairly attached to the 7-8" screen size range. The 7.1" screen the 900 uses is nice for the extra text without really bloating the device a whole lot, or making the columns too wide on books (a concern I have with the iRex 800, whose screen is the same height, just about 1" wider.

I've still yet to find a device with software as refined as the Sony... and for some of us, the Kindle isn't an option (by choice, rather than by any technical reason). I'm already getting rather spoiled by using the touch screen to highlight, lookup words and scribble notes. It'd be hard for me to go back after getting some of these features.

As for mediocre, it really does depend on exactly what feature-set you are looking for, and how much certain quirks in other devices annoy you.
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:14 PM   #11
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As for mediocre, it really does depend on exactly what feature-set you are looking for, and how much certain quirks in other devices annoy you.
Yes, for many the added features will be worth the money. I also think that someone who was thinking of picking up the prs-600 and additionally buying a cover, travelling case and charger would be better off picking up the 900, as what they would pay for the extras would probably just about cover the price difference, AND they get a better and larger screen.

I think of the 900 as being Sony's luxury model, a Mercedes compared to the 300 which would be a cute little Honda Civic. It is pricey, but I do feel that the price is justifiable, especially given that the model just came out on the market. I can see it selling for $50-$70 less about a year from now, without the added travel case.
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:41 AM   #12
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How does it handle Letter-size (A4) documents with pictures and graphs and stuff like that? Are they readable and easy to handle on landscape mode?
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:51 AM   #13
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How does it handle Letter-size (A4) documents with pictures and graphs and stuff like that? Are they readable and easy to handle on landscape mode?
If you use the autocrop option, the text is a little on the small side. But it is usable.
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:29 AM   #14
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Foudn a video that show how newspapers look as well as the Sony store. I had not realized that the back of the reader is all plastic so that the wirelss can work (whichi explains why K2 has a part metal and part plastic back. and that the cover is really more of front and side cover.

I still think it's too narrow for my use but I do like it otherwise.

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Old 01-22-2010, 11:09 AM   #15
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Thanks for the video! Gives a better of idea what it's like. It looks quite good, though price is always a huge factor in choosing a good reader like this.
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