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Old 08-10-2007, 02:35 PM   #1
pcinfoman
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Pre-Sales Questions

I currently read all my books on my PalmTX. The Sony Reader has just come to my attention. I like the big screen, but I have several questions before spending $300 for it.
  • Does it have a backlight? I do alot of night reading and did not see a backlight on its list of features.
  • It boasts a revolutionary e-paper screen. What does this mean? Why is it better than the screen on my PalmTX?
  • Why no color? I buy alot of computer manuals in pdf format and some of them are in color. And why would I put pictures on this is there is no color.
I think that is it for now. I may have more questions later.
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Old 08-10-2007, 02:47 PM   #2
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Does it have a backlight? I do alot of night reading and did not see a backlight on its list of features.
No, it doesnt. Thats due to the eink technology.

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It boasts a revolutionary e-paper screen. What does this mean? Why is it better than the screen on my PalmTX?
Well, you have to see it, to really beleive it. But it is almost like paper. You can read it from any angle and in bright sunlight. You will need a seperate light source though to read in very dim lighting conditions (as with paper). The contrast is not as good as normal paper yet, but still astonishing.

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Why no color? I buy alot of computer manuals in pdf format and some of them are in color. And why would I put pictures on this is there is no color.I think that is it for now. I may have more questions later.
The technology works with black and white capsules with differend charges in a liquid container. Color is possible, but still experimental and very expensive with low reolution. But what i have seen, looks very promising. But my guess is, that it will take at least 5 years to the market.

If you like to read, and have had problems reading in bright environments, then you will love the display of the reader.
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Old 08-10-2007, 03:10 PM   #3
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No, it doesn't. Thats due to the eink technology.
I don't understand what you mean here? What about the eink technology makes it so a backlight is not possible?

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Well, you have to see it, to really believe it. But it is almost like paper. You can read it from any angle and in bright sunlight.
So it seems to be the opposite of my PalmTX. I can read at night, but not so well in bright sunlight.

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You will need a separate light source though to read in very dim lighting conditions (as with paper). The contrast is not as good as normal paper yet, but still astonishing.
What about glare from the light source I may use?

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The technology works with black and white capsules with different charges in a liquid container. Color is possible, but still experimental and very expensive with low resolution. But what i have seen, looks very promising. But my guess is, that it will take at least 5 years to the market.
That makes sense. thank you for explaining that.

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If you like to read, and have had problems reading in bright environments, then you will love the display of the reader.
Hmm, it is worth looking into more then.

A couple more questions if you don't mind
1) What about the ebook formats. All my books are in pdb format for my PalmTX. How do I get them on the Reader?

2) I understand that you can read pdfs (not secure ones tho). Do they have to be converted to read on the Sony Reader?

3) Does it have bookmarking abilities? Even on pdf documents?

Last edited by pcinfoman; 08-10-2007 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 08-10-2007, 10:16 PM   #4
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When you said you buy a lot of computer manuals in PDF, I was thinking "Oh no!" The Reader's 6" screen is not good for those computer manuals in PDF. In fact, just forget the Sony reads PDF. Just pretend that feature doesn't exist.

That said, if your eReader books are DRM protected, forget converting them over to the Sony. But it is a good thing that the Sony will NOT read eReader books as the line spacing is just a horrible mess on a larger screen. I've downloaded some free eReader books and found that on my computer screen I hated having a line space between each paragraph. Just indent normally.

There is no backlight because you cannot get the light to shine through. Imagine the reader as a paperback book. Try putting a backlight on one. You cannot do it for similar reasons.
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Old 08-10-2007, 10:42 PM   #5
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When you said you buy a lot of computer manuals in PDF, I was thinking "Oh no!" The Reader's 6" screen is not good for those computer manuals in PDF. In fact, just forget the Sony reads PDF. Just pretend that feature doesn't exist.
Well, that sucks! What is the point of have a pdf reader feature if pdfs don't work on the thing

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That said, if your eReader books are DRM protected, forget converting them over to the Sony. But it is a good thing that the Sony will NOT read eReader books as the line spacing is just a horrible mess on a larger screen. I've downloaded some free eReader books and found that on my computer screen I hated having a line space between each paragraph. Just indent normally.
So the line spacing is horrible on this unit. is that what you are saying?

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There is no backlight because you cannot get the light to shine through. Imagine the reader as a paperback book. Try putting a backlight on one. You cannot do it for similar reasons.
I don't really get this. it is an electronic device, right? it displays information on the screen, right? Then not putting a backlight on it does not make sense to me. I think I will have to find a place that has one I can actually hold.

You don't seem like you are happy with this product. is there nothing good you can say about it?
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Old 08-10-2007, 10:43 PM   #6
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RasterFarian converted pdf books/manuals are quite reable.
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Old 08-10-2007, 10:45 PM   #7
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RasterFarian converted pdf books/manuals are quite reable.
What is RasterFarian? I am talking about a pdf book that I download from an ebook store. for example, the equivalent of a book I buy in the store on Windows XP, but instead I buy the pdf version of it. Are you guys saying I cannot read it on the Sony Reader? What the hell?
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:22 AM   #8
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I don't understand what you mean here? What about the eink technology makes it so a backlight is not possible?
An eInk screen is opaque - light can't shine through it. Hence no backlight.

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What about glare from the light source I may use?
The screen is pretty dull. Glare isn't a problem.
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:30 AM   #9
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What is RasterFarian? I am talking about a pdf book that I download from an ebook store. for example, the equivalent of a book I buy in the store on Windows XP, but instead I buy the pdf version of it. Are you guys saying I cannot read it on the Sony Reader? What the hell?
PDF files are not like normal eBooks which can happily be displayed on any sized screen. A PDF file has fixed sized pages - normally A4 or US Letter - and that's "fixed" - they can't be displayed on any other sized screen except by either reducing the size of the entire page, or panning the screen over the existing page.

The Reader has a screen which is only 1/6th the area of an A4 page. There is no sensible way to view such a page in 1/6th the area it should be displayed.

This is a limitation of the PDF format, not the Reader. PDF isn't an eBook format - it's a "page description" format, for fixed-sized pages.
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:34 AM   #10
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I don't really get this. it is an electronic device, right? it displays information on the screen, right? Then not putting a backlight on it does not make sense to me. I think I will have to find a place that has one I can actually hold.
I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the technology.

LCD screens have transparent coloured pixels which you can shine light through. eInk screens don't - they have fluid-filled cells containing little capsules which are white on one side and black on the other side. Charge the cell one way and the capules rotate to show their white side; charge it the other way and the capsules show their black side. The screen is entirely opaque. You can't shine light through it. You can no more "backlight" an eInk screen than you can backlight, say, a whiteboard. It's just not transparent.

You have to see it to appreciate it. It's completely different to an LCD screen. It looks like a piece of light grey paper on which words just "appear".
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:26 AM   #11
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Well, that sucks! What is the point of have a pdf reader feature if pdfs don't work on the thing
I have no idea why it supports PDF. But if you make a PDF in the size of the screen, it works fine. It's justr just your average PDF made to be printed on a piece of paper is too large for the screen. You will need to use one of the thrd party tools to get the PDF to be readable enough.

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So the line spacing is horrible on this unit. is that what you are saying?
The line spacing on the Sony is fine. It's eReader formatted books that hae the problem. Books you purchase at the Connect store are fine.

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I don't really get this. it is an electronic device, right? it displays information on the screen, right? Then not putting a backlight on it does not make sense to me. I think I will have to find a place that has one I can actually hold.
You will find that no e-ink device will have a backlight. It's not just the Sony. As Harry said (simplified here) light cannot pass through the e-ink.

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You don't seem like you are happy with this product. is there nothing good you can say about it?
I am very happy with my Sony Reader. I use it to read books. I do not try to get it to do things it's not all that good at. I don't bother trying to read full page sized PDF. I read books with it. It does that very well. It holds a charge for 2-3 weeks depending on usage. It's a good size to be able to carry around with me. The screen does not cause eye fatigue. It's not too heavy to hold. ANd I am not stuck carrying around a bunch of dead tree type books. I can have many books on it at one time so I can decide what I want to read when the mood strikes me.

The tools we have for content creation are very good. We have libpri500 with all it's various tools, Book Designer, and pielrf.
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Old 08-11-2007, 10:09 AM   #12
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I have no idea why it supports PDF. But if you make a PDF in the size of the screen, it works fine. It's justr just your average PDF made to be printed on a piece of paper is too large for the screen. You will need to use one of the thrd party tools to get the PDF to be readable enough.
On my PC, I can tell the pdf document to display at 50%. Can I do this on the Reader? Or am I stuck with scrolling or converting the document?

I appreciate all of your comments. Thank you very much for your patience in explaining it to me. It is obvious that I did not understand the technology.

Can you please answer my other questions.

1) What about the ebook formats. All my books are in pdb format for my PalmTX. How do I get them on the Reader?

2) Does it have bookmarking abilities? Even on pdf documents?
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:51 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=pcinfoman;87252]On my PC, I can tell the pdf document to display at 50%. Can I do this on the Reader? Or am I stuck with scrolling or converting the document?[quote]
You can't reduce the PDF any more then it already is. No need really. A PDF on the Sony does not scroll like it can on your PC. But there are tools such as PDRasafarian (sp?) or PDFRead that can be used to fix up the PDF so they are more readable.

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I appreciate all of your comments. Thank you very much for your patience in explaining it to me. It is obvious that I did not understand the technology.
Happy to help. It does make it easier to make an informed decision if you have enough information ahead of time.

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1) What about the ebook formats. All my books are in pdb format for my PalmTX. How do I get them on the Reader?
If your PDB books do not have DRM, yes you can convert them to work on the Sony Reader. If they have DRM, then you cannot. No e-ink reader at present supports DRM eReader format books.

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2) Does it have bookmarking abilities? Even on pdf documents?
Yes, the Sony Reader has a button labeled MARK that is used to bookmark. And it will work on PDF as well as BBeB (LRF (no DRM)or LRX (with DRM)).

Any other questions, feel free to ask. As for converting, we have some very good programs... libprs500 that inclused html2lrf and other useful tools such as pdf2html and pdf2lrf, Book Designer, Pielef, PDRastefarian (sp?), and PDFRead. So you should ahve little trouble getting content onto your reader.
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Old 08-11-2007, 06:48 PM   #14
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welcome to the forums.

Why the reader? For me, it's a great way to get myself off of the computer or TV. I have known about Project Gutenberg for years, but outside of downloading "Devil's Dictionary" or reference material, I couldn't really get enjoyment from reading on the computer. The screen bothers me, at least enough that I couldn't imagine wanting to read an entire book in that manner.

as the other folks have stated, the e-ink screen is really great. Friends and folks at work may be a little put-off from the price tag at this point, but they all are amazed by the screen. I've heard people that speed-reading people aren't happy with the refresh time, but it is fine for me. Also, if someone expects to take a lot of PDF files and dump them on there, it may not be the right tool for them either. I do use PDF files, but they are a bit tricky. Some of them (simple ones?) you can just load, and they work fine. Some of them you need to run through a conversion tool (PDF Rasterfarian) , and some of them don't seem to work well at all without what I imagine would be a LOT of work (pdfs with non-white pages). The reader doesn't (at this point, but maybe never) have a search function, so I'd recommend books that you would read front-to-back like a novel, or a history book that you're reading front to back.

But as for my personal use, I have had a good time reading books I've found on several sites, including here, and I haven't even used Sony Connect yet because there are so many other books that I have found.
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Old 08-11-2007, 10:41 PM   #15
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What is RasterFarian? I am talking about a pdf book that I download from an ebook store. for example, the equivalent of a book I buy in the store on Windows XP, but instead I buy the pdf version of it. Are you guys saying I cannot read it on the Sony Reader? What the hell?
Answer to, "What is RasterFarian?" RasterFarian is an alternate way to prep a PDF file for display on the reader. It makes a PDF file much more pretty and easy to read. BUT you are still limited: Books that are formatted to an 8 1/2" x 11" screen are still being displayed on a screen 1/6th that size.

Look at it this way: You have an average size "For Dummies" paper bound book. Now run a couple of pages (or a chapter) through a copier, but reduce it to 66% (about the size of a paperback.) Can you shrink its' pages down and still have a good reading experience? Especially with technical and coding manuals, that's usually not a good proposition, even if you can get the text to reflow.

Also, I don't know if you're talking DRMed PDF or not. It sounded like it, which is a whole other kettle of fish. - You might not be able to get it over at all without breaking the DRM (though I've never tried that - I avoid DRMed PDF like the plague.)

Now, it may seem like we're being overly critical here. And we are - in fact that subject came up in a recent thread here. But I, for one, would rather have you pleased with purchasing a Reader for what it is - not frustrated with it for what it cannot do well. I think most of us who've responded in this thread are very satisfied with our Readers and what we use them for.

The Reader's best strength is in a reproduction of the paperback book reading experience. Can it do more than that? Sure. But that's what most of us use it for, IMVHO, and that's what most of us are more than satisfied with.

But if you're looking for larger screen characteristics, an iLiad or a Tablet PC might be more up your alley.
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