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Old 05-10-2008, 01:41 PM   #1
Shadowplay
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I've got the bug - please help me decide on which device best suits me

Hello gang, I'm brand spanking new here (as my post count of 1 might hint at!) Let me give a little background here before asking my questions.

I'm a sporadic reader and tend to go through intense stretches of devouring books followed by lulls in the storm. I'm also a tech junkie, work in IT, pretty much live and breathe technology even if my budget can't always allow for my interests. I have a nice perk through my employer that allows for a personal IT budget - I can buy up to a certain dollar amount anything that's IT related for my own personal use. The idea is it's a nice perk, but also it encourages exploration of new technologies which in the end can benefit the company. So with all that in mind I've really been interested in e-ink based readers for a while now and can use the personal IT budget towards such a device - great since I can't really justify the cost if it were out of pocket.

I've read through many of the threads on this site trying to figure out which device would best suit my personal likes and needs, but I every time I think I'm decided I find something that makes me second guess myself.

What I feel I need:
  • 6" e-ink display
  • SD card support
  • Decent library navigation
  • Preferably mobipocket support
What I'd like in addition:
  • Dictionary integration
  • Good customer support
  • Firmware updates for bug fixes and new features as time goes on
  • Decent PDF reading (I know none of these are really great with PDFs though)

So where does that leave me? I thought I was all decided on the Cybook Gen3 - it looked just about perfect, except after a little more digging I find 3 things that really worry me:
  1. Really weak library navigation
  2. Questionable customer service (under staffed?)
  3. Mediocre hardware buttons - hard to press, poor layout

I know there are more firmware updates coming for the Gen3, but hard to get something hoping a future update *might* make it better.

Anyway what do you suggest? I'm open to anything - not set at all on any one device. Thanks for any advice you can offer!

--Shadowplay
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Old 05-10-2008, 01:48 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowplay View Post
What I feel I need:
  • 6" e-ink display
  • SD card support
  • Decent library navigation
  • Preferably mobipocket support
What I'd like in addition:
  • Dictionary integration
  • Good customer support
  • Firmware updates for bug fixes and new features as time goes on
  • Decent PDF reading (I know none of these are really great with PDFs though)
For the display, the 505 & Gen3 are both good.
The 505 supports up to 2gig SD and 8gig Memory Stick. Gen3 is only 2gig SD.
The 505 currently has better library navigation then the gen3. The 505 also has collections as well.
The Gen3 supports Mobipocket
The gen3 has dictionary support. The 505 has a program that adds in a dictionary, but it's not as neat and clean as the Mobipocket integrated solution.
The 505 is supposed to be getting better PDF support and ePub support in future firmware updates.


Quote:
So where does that leave me? I thought I was all decided on the Cybook Gen3 - it looked just about perfect, except after a little more digging I find 3 things that really worry me:
  1. Really weak library navigation
  2. Questionable customer service (under staffed?)
  3. Mediocre hardware buttons - hard to press, poor layout
Yes, the Gen3 is weaker at library navigation (at the moment) then the 505.
Sony's customer service is actually pretty good.
The 505 has a nice layout and I don't find any missed button presses.
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Old 05-10-2008, 02:29 PM   #3
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I noticed that you made no mention of the Kindle.

May I ask why it is not being considered?

My interest stems from the fact that I've never seen one, and am keen to learn other's opinions, especially that of a techie.

I love my PRS-500, especially considering that I got a great deal on it thanks to this forum, but really like some of the features of the Kindle (mainly, the freedom to not load books from a desktop but to the device directly, even if it in a proprietary format).

By the way,
Welcome to Mobile Read!
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Old 05-10-2008, 02:49 PM   #4
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You can download public domain and Creative Commons works directly on your Kindle from Feeedbooks.com. They're DRM-free Mobipocket. You can also buy many books at Fictionwise.com and have them sent to your Kindle but Amazon will charge you 10 cents per transfer.
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Old 05-10-2008, 04:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowplay View Post
What I feel I need:
No devices meet all this... Here is the matrix:
  • 6" e-ink display
  • SD card support
CyBook Gen 3, Sony, Kindle, Hanlin, EBBook
  • Decent library navigation
Jetbook, iLiad (both have full nested folder support)
Sony 505 (has collections and by Author grouping)
  • Preferably mobipocket support
CyBook, iLiad only
  • Dictionary integration
CyBook, Jetbook, Kindle (not sure if iliad should be listed here)
  • Good customer support
Sony, Kindle
  • Firmware updates for bug fixes and new features as time goes on
All devices will have this.
  • Decent PDF reading (I know none of these are really great with PDFs though)
iLiad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowplay View Post
So where does that leave me? I thought I was all decided on the Cybook Gen3 - it looked just about perfect, except after a little more digging I find 3 things that really worry me:
Finding the best common denominator. Looking at what is "Most important to you" the only device that gets most of them in the CyBook.

There is also the Astak mentor but it is looking like it won't really be avialable until the fall. (They just updated to July/August).

BOb
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Old 05-10-2008, 04:07 PM   #6
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The library management isn't THAT awful in the Gen3. With a few hundred books on the machine it works OK. You just wouldn't want to use it with 5,000 books. A couple of hundred books is a year's+ reading for most people - do people really need more?
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Old 05-10-2008, 04:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowplay View Post
What I feel I need:
  • 6" e-ink display
  • SD card support
  • Decent library navigation
  • Preferably mobipocket support
What I'd like in addition:
  • Dictionary integration
  • Good customer support
  • Firmware updates for bug fixes and new features as time goes on
  • Decent PDF reading (I know none of these are really great with PDFs though)
Let's look at how the Hanlin V3 fares:

It has SD-Card support, a 6" e-ink screen, and full nested folder support. The library support could be a bit better, though, because by default the files are sorted by time, and you need to set a different sort order once for each folder and sub-folder. Mobipocket support isn't there yet, but there are indications that the next firmware update, which should be due in late May or June, will provide Mobipocket support.

None of the 6" devices are good for PDF reading, which is also true for the Hanlin V3. Customer support depends on who you buy it from, as Jinke, the manufacturer of the Hanlin V3, isn't really in the retail business and their customer support, apart from providing regular firmware updates - which they do - isn't that great. By contrast, the people from Apolo XXI, a Hanlin retailer in Spain, answer emails promptly and are always friendly and polite.

The V3 doesn't have dictionary support, and I don't know if that feature is planned for a future firmware version.
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Old 05-10-2008, 04:51 PM   #8
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The V3 doesn't have dictionary support, and I don't know if that feature is planned for a future firmware version.
Dictionary support is a standard part of the Mobi reader. If it gets Mobi, it should get dictionaries.
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Old 05-10-2008, 07:07 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the replies so far. I'll see if I can respond to everyone!

The Kindle... I think the 2 off putting points on this are the physical design and just how tied into Amazon it is. I know the format is really just tweaked mobipocket and I'm fairly confident I *could* make mobipocket files work on the kindle if I don't mind converting against the EULA/TOS/etc. As for the design, yes I've read countless user reviews that say it's really great when you actually have it in hand and are using it instead of just looking at pics online, but I'm just not sure about it.

I stopped by a Borders yesterday for my first hands-on time with any of these ebook systems - the Sony 505 - and loved it. I went from pretty interested to gotta freakin' have one soon. What the 505 quickly taught me is that I really, really like how incredibly thin these can be - again not sure if the Kindle would fit the bill for me. I figure the screen on the 505 should be pretty much the same as any of the other e-ink devices (iLiad is probably a different beast though.) So I got a good feel for what I can expect out of e-ink - both the pros and cons. The flash as you change pages doesn't bother me at all so luckily I no longer have any worries there.

Ok I'm starting to get off track here. I'm just not sure about the physical design of the Kindle *except* that it looks like it's probably the easiest of the bunch to navigate, both in menus and while actually reading books. I don't honestly need many of the features the Kindle touts as selling points, e.g. qwerty, EVDO, etc. Sure if I have 'em I'll use 'em because, well, why not?

Of course thinking about it all again today kinda points out just how close in price the Cybook and Kindle are in which case... I dunno! The Cybook is so light weight and thin, but seems a bit buggy.

I'll keep mulling it over through the rest of the weekend and see if I come to any decision by Monday. Keep the advice coming! Great stuff.

EDIT: Oh yeah, one other thing I *really* love about the Cybook is that you can load any TTF font you want and inherently get I believe it's 12 different font sizes. Now that's just slick.

Last edited by Shadowplay; 05-10-2008 at 07:10 PM. Reason: just remembered...
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:49 PM   #10
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Sorry to double post, but this deserves a separate post I feel.

This may come as a real surprise (not really hehe), but I've been doing a lot more reading up about my options. At the prodding of someone earlier in this thread I went back to re-researching the Kindle and now I think I'm even more undecided.

Random thoughts on various devices:
  • I have to admit I like the Amazon Whispernet idea... even though I have a PDA with an unlimited data connection.
  • I'm worried that I would always be a little annoyed at all the buttons on the Kindle because it's just not very often I really need a keyboard while reading since I generally read fiction.
  • The Cybook and Sony look so much better.
  • Kindle's battery life, even with wireless turned off, seems noticeably less than other readers (excluding iLiad of course.)
  • Overall I think I like the Sony PRS-505 hardware the best, but for my content needs I feel the Sony library isn't best suited.

Ok I have to go do something else before I have a mental meltdown.

Last edited by Shadowplay; 05-10-2008 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 05-10-2008, 10:14 PM   #11
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The biggest disadvantage of the Whispernet is also one if it's biggest advantages - it's too damned easy to spend money. Today I downloaded about 6 free samples and from those bought 4 books, for a grand total of $17.99. I finally had to take the advice I read on one of Amazon's forums and buy myself a gift card, so I don't see all the charges for each book showing up on my debit card. I can still check the purchases, either by checking the gift card and charges against it or buy checking my download page, but I got my checking statement the other day and there is a page and a half of Amazon purchases - a lot of them for 0.99 or 1.99, but a couple for $9.99.

My battery lasts about 5 days, with use of the Whispernet maybe once or twice a day. Is that really shorter than the other devices?

The lack of user-defined folder is truly irritating, but the advantage of the qwerty "thumbboard" is that, in Menu mode, you type the first letter of the book or author you're looking for (depending on how you have your sort set) and it goes directly there. Also, while you are reading a book or whatever, the keyboard is mostly inactive, so any single key doesn't do anything, with the exception of the font size change key and the clickwheel.

Wasn't someone saying that loading fonts on the Cybook slowed it down considerably? Maybe that was just loading a certain type or loading a certain way.

Amazon's customer service has been okay so far, but then I haven't had any major issues with either device, just questions on how to set up both Kindles on one account. They have a "callback" where you go to the website, log in, give them your phone # and they call back, usually within seconds.

I agree that the Sony is sleeker and sexier, but I've grown to like my Kindle quite a bit.
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:54 PM   #12
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LOL yes I can definitely see how quickly I could be spending money with a Kindle - kind of a good/bad situation I guess.

Ok here's another question to those in the know: how does the speed of the Kindle compare to the Cybook and the Sony 505?

I'm seeing that both the 505 and Gen3 are running at 200MHz, all be it different chipsets, while the Kindle is using an Intel 400Mhz critter. Should I care? Does it make any difference?
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Old 05-11-2008, 12:26 AM   #13
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LOL yes I can definitely see how quickly I could be spending money with a Kindle - kind of a good/bad situation I guess.

Ok here's another question to those in the know: how does the speed of the Kindle compare to the Cybook and the Sony 505?

I'm seeing that both the 505 and Gen3 are running at 200MHz, all be it different chipsets, while the Kindle is using an Intel 400Mhz critter. Should I care? Does it make any difference?
I have all 4 of the US-sold eink devices plus the Jetbook. The Kindle is slower in opening menu items than Gen 3 or 505.

Gen 3 is great and is so amazingly thin it is almost not there....but, as you say, it is buggy. At the price Bookeen charges it should perform as flawlessly as the Iliad, Sony or Kindle....but it doesn't. If you can live with dropped bookmarks and the device not remembering your place in a book, then Gen 3 is for you.

I bought the Sony kind of on a whim. I have a lot of books in txt format and figured I could use the Sony for that, if nothing else, as I had no intention of using the Sony store (I have yet to go to the Sony store, a month after getting the 505).

But much to my delight, I found that using the Calibre program with a lit file (after removing the drm) makes a letter-perfect copy in lrf format, with all the photos, clickable TOC and everything else included, just like you bought the book from Sony itself. But your conversion is drm free, and can be used on another device in the future should your needs change.

The 505 has the best menu structure and layout of controls, matched only by the Jetbook.

Get the Sony if you don't mind doing conversions. I can buy a book from Fictionwise and have it ready to read on the Sony is less than 5 minutes.
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Old 05-11-2008, 03:40 AM   #14
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On the subject of spending, don't forget to take some time to compare prices on the ebooks you are actually likely to buy.

When I priced up a list of things I was interested in I very quickly found that the Kindle would pay for itself in savings, and not just on current best-sellers.

On the subject of being tied, I have to say that I would sooner be tied to Amazon, whose service I have always found superb, than to company like Sony, who have a track record of abusing their customers over DRM-related issues. They may produce good hardware but they are anal over copyright, as I found to my cost when I spent $2000 dollars on a laptop which turned out to be hardwired not to play my [legally purchased] Region 1 DVDs here in the UK.
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Old 05-11-2008, 04:08 AM   #15
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Wasn't someone saying that loading fonts on the Cybook slowed it down considerably? Maybe that was just loading a certain type or loading a certain way.
No, I think you may perhaps be thinking of embedding fonts in a book on the Sony Reader - that does significantly slow down page turning. Loading extra fonts onto the CyBook has no impact on speed at all.
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