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Old 02-24-2008, 07:26 PM   #1
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Help me Decide

I love technology devices. My MP3 player (Cowon X5L) was something I spent a lot of time deciding on - I made the right decision and I'm over the moon with it.

Last year on holiday I thought to myself "I wish someone would make a proper electronic book, something designed just for books, something cheap, easy on the eyes" and the next day in USA Today I read about Amazon's Kindle which was just about to be launched. It didn't appeal to me - no interest in connecting to a wireless mobile phone like network, it looks ugly, etc etc.

However when I got back home to sunny Scotland I sniffed about on the internet and saw Sonys reader, forgot about it until a few weeks ago and since then I've been looking all over the place to find out more about them.

I've now decided I have to have one. It isn't the case that money is no object, sadly. However within reason I'll pay what I need to get the device that's right.

The device has to last a few years. Eventually when I replace my MP3 player I'd want an epaper device with masses of storage. But for now, there are no MP3 players that have epaper, and no ebook readers that have masses of storage. So it's going to be 2 devices until then.

As far as I am aware (please correct me if I'm wrong) there are several devices, but a few of these immediately jump out as nos.

Readius - Out because I don't think the rollable paper thing offers me any advantages. I'd be paying a premium for that, plus it's not even available yet.

Iliad - Out because it's the old eink technology, plus it's expensive, and I have no need to write on it.

Between the rest I can't choose.

So I'm hoping people can tell me not what is right about them, but what is wrong about them. I'll likely decide against a device because of a drawback that would affect me.

I've looked at the Cybook and the Sony 505. The other two (HanLin V3 and STK 101) I've not seen a great deal on. I also think the STK101 doesn't use Vizplex, so that'd put it out too.

I'll be using the devices to read fictional books. Perhaps the odd non-fiction, but they'd be in the style of a fiction book (biographies etc).

Can anyone offer any advice?
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Old 02-24-2008, 08:03 PM   #2
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Howdy Halk.
Welcome to MobileRead, if no one else has said so.

Looking over your post, the PRS-505 is what I recommend. I have one, and like it immensely, though I wish more non-fiction content was available. That is actually a general statement, not merely a critique of the Reader.

Have not seen a Cybook, though being in Europe you might have better luck with one of those.

There is talk of SONY & Amazon exporting their e-books to the UK, but do not know when that will be. Until they do so, you will have trouble purchasing content from either company's website, though a generous member here, Leaping Gnome, buys and ships gift cards to members outside the U.S.

I love my PRS-500, and the 505's look great. I have a 1 GB SD card in mine, pre-loaded w. WMA's & MP3's from its former use in a Treo.
The SONY might be a good choice for you.

Good luck in your decision.
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Old 02-25-2008, 02:32 AM   #3
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I have a CyBook, and would recommend it without hesitation. It's a little more expensive than the Sony, but has a number of major benefits over it, such as dictionary support, much better font handling (you can load any font you wish, and view any book in any font at any size), and support for the extremely popular MobiPocket book format.

The other thing to bear in mind if you buy a Sony, living in the UK, is that you'll effectively be buying it with no warranty - Sony won't touch it unless you live in the US. The Gen3, being made in Europe, has full warranty support.
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:21 AM   #4
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While Harry's warnings about the Sony bear noting, you should still consider the Sony, as the difference in cost may be significant.

As for the formats it supports, that's unlikely to be an issue as while it doesn't support MobiPocket, it does support various formats natively (.lrf & .lrx but also including .rtf) and there are various tools to allow you to easily convert from other formats, such as MS Reader .lit format.

For instance, yesterday I bought a copy of a Baen book, downloaded the .LIT and right-clicked to launch my "lit to lrf" script which used the libprs500 lit2lrf app. A minute os so later, there I had a Sony format ebook (including cover image) ready to drag to my reader.

As for fonts, with the Sony, you can only change between "Small", "Med" & "Large" on the fly - if you want to select different fonts you need to embed them in the eBook at creation time (and it does slow down the page turn speed). Whether or not that or the lack of a dictionary is an issue for you is a personal decision - it doesn't really matter to me, but I can see how others would require those features.
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Old 02-25-2008, 03:27 PM   #5
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As far as warranty goes... I've decided to hold off until April, and see if either Sony announces a launch in the UK, or even has a UK launch. I've seen April mentioned a few times.

However, if it's true that the screens (which I understand are all made by the same company) are holding back production, I don't see why Sony would want to start selling in the UK, when they can't satisfy the US market. Not unless they thought they could make way more money from it, which they probably could.

There's a couple of reasons why I'm against a Cybook.

Firstly if you look at the comments on the last entry of their blog there's a few people with a faulty product and it seems Bookeen are ignoring their emails. Also, Bookeen are, and quite blatantly, selling to the US at a cut price compared to the UK.

They ship to whichever country you pick, but they choose a price based on where you live.

UK £245 - E325
US $350 - E236
Euro E350 - E350

Is it just coincidence that the only place where they compete with Amazon and Sony they have reduced the price by 100 Euro?

It is not the case that it costs less for them in the US. And it's not the case it costs more for them in the EU or UK.

The only conclusion I can draw from it is that they're charging a premium where there's no alternative. I don't like that.

From that I'd expect when and if Sony launch in the UK, or when someone else comes out with a "basic" ebook reader in the UK then Bookeen will adjust their price to compete.

There's a huge benefit in waiting for a UK launch from Sony as well. In the UK consumer laws are miles better than they are in the US. And buying from another country also makes things much harder. In the UK if it goes wrong then it'll get replaced, and I can go through the courts if I have to. If I buy from Europe I don't believe I have the same rights, and if Bookeen just ignore emails or say no to returns then going through the courts or Trading Standards is much more difficult. If I buy in the US then there's also much less cover.

If come April prices haven't dropped, or things haven't changed then I'll have a choice of one or the other. I also, along with other family members, own a condo in Florida, so I could buy over there using a US address and bring it back across with me.

Ideally though I'd like to pay a price that isn't over inflated (I can understand higher prices in the UK because consumers have much more punch), and I'd like a decent level of "insurance" in case it goes wrong, i.e. my statutory rights.

Having said all that though, I'm still back at looking for a list of the cons, rather than the pros of the two devices.

As I understand...

Both are identical for..

Screen (one may have more greyscales, doesn't affect me)
Battery life (Give or take)
Ease of use (Both of them I can access like a hard drive and throw files on/off)
DRM - Each has their own. Bookeen seem to have more retailers, but those retailers seem to be just resellers of one product, so there's no real advantage there. Sony site is/may be restricted to the US. I'm quite sure I could use an American address and an American credit card to get around that.

The differences are

Sony can't use different fonts unless I manually edit the file before, and embed a font. I'm not sure how useful that would be, since I don't really have any concerns over font size. I think small/med/large would likely be enough options.

Do either of them have "bad" button layouts? I.e. am I going to have to fiddle with a finicky little button and accidentally move back a page rather than forwards, or go to a menu when I just wanted a page flip?

Lights - I realise neither of them have a backlight, and I also realise that's part of the point of the devices. However, I like to read at night, and I'd like to be able to attach a light to it. I see Sony have an accessory that puts a light in a sensible place. I've not seen the same for the Cybook.

Is one of them more, or less durable than the other? I realise it's a very subjective question, but is one of them better designed in case I accidentally drop it, or I fall asleep reading it and in the night I roll over on top of it.

Anything else anyone can think of along the lines of "I wish I hadn't bought this Sony/Bookeen reader because the Bookeen/Sony reader doesn't do this"

Until then though I can't separate them.

Edit : Oh, and thanks a TON for the help so far!
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:56 AM   #6
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They ship to whichever country you pick, but they choose a price based on where you live.

UK £245 - E325
US $350 - E236
Euro E350 - E350

Is it just coincidence that the only place where they compete with Amazon and Sony they have reduced the price by 100 Euro?
All companies set local prices to reflect local markets. That's business. The price discrepency isn't as great as you quote, because the £ and € price you quote above includes the French VAT rate of 19.6%; the US price doesn't. One reason the price is higher in the EU is that customers have more legal rights for replacement, etc, in the EU than the US.

I've had my Gen3 for 4 months now and love it. To my way of thinking, you can wait forever for the perfect machine to come along. Get something now and enjoy it. Life is too short to wait for the ideal product .
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:13 PM   #7
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Well, an update. I still want one, so I'm going to buy one.

There's 3 possibilities.

1) I order a Cybook
2) I wait for Sony to bring out the 505 in the UK
3) I order a 505 off eBay or have someone bring one back from the states

The easiest would be if I got a Cybook, so I'm back to where I was at the start. I can't decide between the two of them.

At the moment I prefer the Sony because (I think) it's better looking, and because I think future development/accessories etc would be better on that. Also in the US it comes with a 2 year warranty, so hopefully in the UK it would be the same, or at absolute worst I could take it back to the US and send it back to be replaced.

The main two accessories I like for the Sony are being able to use a PSP charger to charge it - charging it at home is no issue since I'm at a PC, but if I'm travelling then that's not always possible. And the big one is the light, I like to read in bed, so I'd need lighting, Sony's solution of a little light that attaches to it seems about as good as it could get.

However in the Cybook camp there's a couple of new positives. I now understand that at least part of the problem with "poor support" is emails not getting there because of spam filters, that's better than emails being ignored. The other thing is the (expensive, but I can understand why) case that Cybook sell seems to be durable, and looks like I wouldn't need to go aftermarket to find something. It covers 2 eyesores. The Bookeen logo, and the Cybook logo. That might seem a little petty, but my otherwise perfect Cowon X5L's "Colour screen" written down the side of the screen annoys me. Wouldn't mind seeing a picture of the Cybook in it's case. Also, I'd like to know more about charging it without paying for their charger. Could I just buy a tip from Gomadic - I know they don't make any specifically for it, but surely it's a "standard" fitting?
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:28 PM   #8
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Not to make your decision more difficult but the book light that Sony sells for the PRS is just a regular book light. You could clip that to the Cybook case as easily as to a Sony. I have a similar one for my Kindle.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:48 PM   #9
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yes, the book light Sony sells is nothing special. I actually prefer the bug light. You can find out about the bug light for searching for bug light in the forum.
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Old 03-08-2008, 02:08 AM   #10
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I don't really have any advice on what device to get, but if you're worried about charging your device away from a PC it's worth noting that there is a wall charger available for the Cybook.

Also, it's interesting that one reason you're turned off by the Cybook is their pricing scheme. One of the main reasons I got the Cybook is because the Canadian price is the same as the American, and that is extremely extremely rare (despite our dollar being about the same). It's very nice not to be ripped off
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Old 03-08-2008, 02:32 AM   #11
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I thought you could just use a plain mini-usb charger for the Sony.
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Old 03-08-2008, 02:35 AM   #12
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I thought you could just use a plain mini-usb charger for the Sony.
Yes you can. That's what the psp charger is as well
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Old 03-08-2008, 06:30 AM   #13
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Yes you can. That's what the psp charger is as well
No, the PSP charger isn't USB; the Sony will charge via USB, but there's a separate charger socket which is a jack plug.

The Gen3 charger is a standard USB charger. No need to buy the Bookeen one - any will work just fine (as they will for the Sony, too.)
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Old 03-08-2008, 07:19 PM   #14
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Hmm, I'm just about sold on the Gen3. Time to look through everything in detail just in case.. and then I'll order. Thanks for the help folks!
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Old 03-08-2008, 08:26 PM   #15
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No, the PSP charger isn't USB; the Sony will charge via USB, but there's a separate charger socket which is a jack plug.

The Gen3 charger is a standard USB charger. No need to buy the Bookeen one - any will work just fine (as they will for the Sony, too.)
oops, it looks like I truly have forgotten about my psp . I admit it, my DS has taken it's place in my heart.

Anyhoo, the main point is that you can charge both devices via pc or wall charger Huzzah for versatility!
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