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Old 11-08-2007, 11:44 PM   #1
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Cybook gen3 Review

Since there are no reviews yet I'll offer my first impressions. I've used a couple of PDAs before, but nothing like this. I apologize if pics are not very good. I had to play with different angles to get proper light.

As noted before, it is very light and compact enough to carry around with ease. I actually found it easier to hold than a paperback. Don't need any pressure to keep a book open. At one point between a cat and a 2 year old wanting attention I was forced to hold it and turn pages with a single hand, yet found it not too difficult or tiring. So far I give it top marks for ease of use.

I clocked boot time at 24 seconds. Personally I don't find it to be too long; at least compared to my laptop I generally don' mind waiting 20-30 seconds, so it doesn't bother me. Unlike laptop and PDAs, you don't switch it off as often so you don't actually need to start it often either. On the other hand it defaulted with a 5 minute auto-off timeout, which I found odd, more suitable for PDAs. I promptly changed it to 15 minutes.



The 1st screen is the Library view that lists reader content. This one is the highest number of items mode. As said before, it doesn't scale so folder support will be critical in the future.

In the lower left corner you can see 100% battery, of course as I only used it for a couple of days now. Charging vis USB was fine, simple. In the lower right corner is SD memory icon for my 1 Gb chip. I still haven't filled the main memory so don't use SD memory yet.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:02 AM   #2
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I only tried a single HTML page and got an error, so didn't really use it much. Thus I jumped to a TXT file from Gutenberg library.



The very first aspect of TXT mode that jumps at you are the margins. They are about 7 mm horizontal and 9 mm vertical empty space!!! For such a small screen they are very generous indeed. I didn't find a way to get rid of them and don't understand why are they so big. They'll probably reduce their size and/or offer no margins mode in a future update.



As said before this mode offers font selection that enables you to customize text to suit any need. Also bookmarks are great and simple to use. However landscape mode is missing and font selection is light (2 font families only). I found the default Verdana to be great, so haven't tried any others yet.

At the bottom is a progress bar without any page numbers. However I can select "Go To Page" command that displays 967 pages. Again odd that page numbers wouldn't be displayed at the bottom as expected.

Navigation via buttons and menus is simple, so won't repeat what was said before. However, there are couple of odd commands. For instance "Start reading" appear to jump to the 1st page, while I thought it means close the menu and go back to reading at current location. Now menu is displayed using the middle button which then becomes Enter key. So if you press it again to close the menu you actually select the highlighted command. Instead you have to use the side small button to close menu WITHOUT selecting any menu commands. Something to lookout for.

Otherwise even without a manual using the controls was easy and natural.

TXT mode is very good and functional. Once they get rid of huge margins it will be prefect. The line breaks that were mention in other discussions are there. Now they didn't bother me too much, except that once again some space is wasted due to premature line termination. Thus between big margins and short lines I did have to scroll a lot. I do wonder if landscape mode might help as line length might better match wider screen in landscape mode. Anyway even smaller margins will fix this minor annoyance.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:14 AM   #3
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PDF mode as expected has some challenges.



I took one of my technical documents. By default I got a 98% zoom and clearly small text. There is no sense wasting my time here so I switched to landscape.



Notice the page number "5 of 27" as expected. This time I got 131% zoom, which is better. Also margins are not as big, but still there. There is a small icon at the bottom indicating additional page content below. I found the text to be readable, but fairly small. I had to keep the reader close. Also the lack of font manipulation options means that you have very limited options - in essence only 2 zoom levels.



On the other hand this mode offers more view customization: portrait/landscape plus flipped. Between them you can get any orientation you like. In effect you can move the buttons to any corner as you like! I wonder why TXT mode lacks these options. Conversly PDF mode lacks bookmarks from the TXT mode. I guess it was a last minute addition and they didn't have the time to do it in PDF mode. Still I hope it will be added to this mode as well.

"Fit xxxx" commands should be familiar to anyone who used PDF files.

Last edited by bob_ninja; 11-09-2007 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:27 AM   #4
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Here are the PDF mode's strengths and weaknesses. First the weak side.



This is a diagram of a modest size. To be fair I often have to use different zoom options on my laptop when viewing these diagrams on a much bigger screen. However, reader e-ink display's lack of interactive options (like a mouse pad that could be used for zooming and scrolling) makes it impossible to offer similar zoom capability as on a computer. Therefore diagrams can be difficult to read.



Smaller diagrams with larger elements are not too bad as seen here. So it is not totally useless. You may need to look very closely however. So for my techincal documents I will still rely on a laptop more than this reader.

Next I tried one of those PDF books that are customized for Sony Reader (using the posted Rucker's Postsingularity book from Bookfeader site).



Wow, that is cool. As you can see there are no margins and the text is huge. It is big enough that you can hold the reader as far back as possible and still read without difficulty.



Compare this to the other PDF file. I found this file to be the best balance between screen space use (100%), text size and text content per page (didn't have to scroll as often as for TXT). I am really impressed and will gladly pay for e-books in the future.

Last edited by bob_ninja; 11-09-2007 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:38 AM   #5
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In summary this device met all my expectations and exceeded others. I would gladly recommend it to others. I am looking forward to software updates to clean up the minor issues I found.
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Old 11-09-2007, 03:07 AM   #6
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I am really impressed and will gladly pay for e-books in the future.
No need to pay for this one, I can clearly recognize that it's coming from Feedbooks. If you're looking for other Creative Commons SF books: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover/view_book/1918
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Old 11-09-2007, 05:39 AM   #7
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Now menu is displayed using the middle button which then becomes Enter key. So if you press it again to close the menu you actually select the highlighted command. Instead you have to use the side small button to close menu WITHOUT selecting any menu commands. Something to lookout for.
You can also use the left and the right at the navigation control button to close a menu.
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob_ninja View Post
Here are the PDF mode's strengths and weaknesses. First the weak side.


This is a diagram of a modest size. To be fair I often have to use different zoom options on my laptop when viewing these diagrams on a much bigger screen. However, reader e-ink display's lack of interactive options (like a mouse pad that could be used for zooming and scrolling) makes it impossible to offer similar zoom capability as on a computer. Therefore diagrams can be difficult to read.
I think zoom and panning are certainly possible on this device. You can zoom with menu and then use the 4 button pad to pan around. A tap of the center button could revert to regular size and enable the normal 4 button pad use. This I believe is very workable so a mouse of other device is certainly not a prerequisite to being able to pan and zoom.

I think they can already do something like this for pictures but I don't own one so I can't check yet.

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Old 11-09-2007, 01:37 PM   #9
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I think zoom and panning are certainly possible on this device. You can zoom with menu and then use the 4 button pad to pan around. A tap of the center button could revert to regular size and enable the normal 4 button pad use. This I believe is very workable so a mouse of other device is certainly not a prerequisite to being able to pan and zoom.

I think they can already do something like this for pictures but I don't own one so I can't check yet.

Dale
This technique is certainly available for pictures on the Sony Reader PRS-505, so it would work for PDFs just as well if they could only implement it. There must be a reason why it isn't implemented.
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Old 11-09-2007, 01:40 PM   #10
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Don't forget that we have v1.0 of the o/s and PDF support of any type was squeezed in at the very last minute - Bookeen were saying for ages that it would initially ship with no PDF support. I'm sure that it will be improved over time - let's give them a chance .
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Old 11-09-2007, 03:02 PM   #11
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This technique is certainly available for pictures on the Sony Reader PRS-505, so it would work for PDFs just as well if they could only implement it. There must be a reason why it isn't implemented.
I think Sony paid for Adobe to develop the PDF viewer on the PRS500. Adobe's trademark is on the about page, and it wouldn't be there if they didn't have software on the device. The viewer is terrible because Adobe doesn't care about how well it works beyond the minimum function (ithe PRS 500 is not their product).

Bookeen, on the other hand, developed the PDF viewer for the Gen3 on their own from open source tools. They put in all the better features because it is their profit at stake.

Of course, that's just my guess. I could be wrong.
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Old 11-09-2007, 05:45 PM   #12
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Well technically you are right that cursor buttons could be used.
The trouble is that they require a lot of force to register a keystroke. Therefore repeated left/right strokes would be painful and not nearly as easy as using a mouse pad or a regular mouse. It would be simply too slow.
Now I suspect it has more to do with screen refresh limitations. Scrolling would probably not be very smooth.
So they probably didn't bother with a better pointing device due to screen limitations. Like you said, software will be improved. It is the hardware that limits what can be done.
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Old 04-11-2008, 10:10 PM   #13
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No need to pay for this one, I can clearly recognize that it's coming from Feedbooks. If you're looking for other Creative Commons SF books: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover/view_book/1918
what is the difference between creative commons and copyright?
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Old 04-11-2008, 11:14 PM   #14
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what is the difference between creative commons and copyright?
Creative Commons are a class of copyright licenses that allow copying without payment, but perhaps with some restrictions. See Creative Commons Licenses.
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