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Old 05-16-2008, 09:56 AM   #1
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Comparing 500/505 to Kindle

My mother is getting ready to go to Europe for a few weeks and she was going to borrow my old 500. She decided that the screen wasn't bright enough. So, she decided to buy a Kindle (and had Amazon overnight it to her). Last night, we got together for dinner and I had a chance to play with her Kindle and compare it to both my 500 and 505.

1) Screen: The screen on the Kindle appeared to be ever so slightly brighter than the 505 (and significantly brighter than the 500). However, that might have more to do with the use of bold, sans serif fonts and less to do with the actual brightness of the screen. Winner: Kindle.

2) Case: The Kindle has a nice soft leather(-ish?) case that feels much nicer than the 500/505 case, but about the same as the deluxe case that I purchased for the 500. I haven't tried a deluxe case for the 505 yet. The Kindle case also has a strap to keep it closed but I found that to be clunky; I prefer the magnetic closure of the 505. The Kindle is secured (not well) by tabs at the corners as opposed to the locking tab on the 500 or the top/bottom tabs on the 505. It seems as if it would be easy for the Kindle to fall out of the case. The Kindle's case does have a slight "bump" on the inside cover that lines up with the screen. Finally, due to the shape of the Kindle, the Kindle's case is much bulkier that the 500/505 (maybe 2x as wide at the binding). Winner: 505.

3) Look & Feel: The 505 (I have the blue, though it mostly looks black...) has a sleek, metallic feel. The Kindle is, well, plastic. It looks like plastic and feels like plastic, while the 505 (and 500) both feel much more substantial. The 500/505 look pretty cool with their button placement. Somehow, the Kindle's button arrangement just doesn't seem as stylish or sleek. So, for sheer "sexyness" or "coolness": Winner: 505.

4) Usability (part 1): The Kindle has a dictionary. The Kindle has a modem that let's you buy books online (my mother purchased 2 books while we sat at the dinner table). The Kindle's menu seems to move much more quickly than the 505's menu and I really liked the combination wheel/button (like a mouse wheel) to scroll through the menu (much much faster than the 505). I do wonder, however, whether the number of screen refreshes that seem to occur in the menu (especially with the little pop up sub menus) will suck battery power much more quickly than the 505. Winner: Kindle (subject to battery analysis).

5) Usability (part 2): The Kindle has very easy to press page buttons. Virtually the entire right side of the Kindle is a page forward button (with a smaller page back button toward the bottom) and a page buttons on the left side, too. That's good and bad. The good part is that you can put your finger anywhere and turn the pages and you don't need to push a tiny button as on the 505. However, I found that it was too easy to push that page button. No matter where I tried to rest my hand while reading, I found myself still inadvertently pushing the page button. Also, the 505 provides a page button that can be used by the left thumb (and I presume that when we start hacking the 505 the way that we did the 500, the arrow keys in the lower right will also be usable for paging [like the joystick hack]). By contrast, the entire bottom part of the Kindle is taken up by the useful but odd-looking keyboard. Perhaps the keyboard has a page button; I'm not sure. In addition, as a function of the size of the device, the size of the case, and the need to be careful not to accidentally push a button, I found the Kindle much harder to hold than the 505. Plus, it just didn't feel as nice to hold. With the 505 you feel like you're holding a piece of sleek technology; with the Kindle you feel like your holding a toy. The 505 is the iPod or PSP and the Kindle is the Gameboy or DS. Winner: 505.

Overall, I would have to say that I still prefer my 505. Of course, I only got to play with the Kindle for a short period of time and didn't get to sit around and really dive through all of the menus, buy a book online, e-mail a book to myself, or, most importantly, read a book. So, if anybody wants to buy me a Kindle to keep experimenting with, I won't turn them away. But after my brief time with the Kindle, I'll stick with my 505.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:16 AM   #2
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I'm curious as to why your mother bought a Kindle for a trip to Europe. The features which make the Kindle "stand out from the crowd" of other e-Book devices - the EVDO stuff - won't work in Europe!
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:22 AM   #3
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I'm curious as to why your mother bought a Kindle for a trip to Europe. The features which make the Kindle "stand out from the crowd" of other e-Book devices - the EVDO stuff - won't work in Europe!
Personally I think the keyboard and the search makes it stand out from the crowd.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:24 AM   #4
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Good point - those had slipped my mind! How often, though, do people want to do searches in fiction books, I wonder? I can certainly see its usefulness in reference books, but I'm not so sure about fiction. Having read for many years on devices which supported search (Mobi on Pocket PC) I honestly don't recall ever using it myself.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:27 AM   #5
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Good point - those had slipped my mind! How often, though, do people want to do searches in fiction books, I wonder? I can certainly see its usefulness in reference books, but I'm not so sure about fiction. Having read for many years on devices which supported search (Mobi on Pocket PC) I honestly don't recall ever using it myself.
I would like to do it very often. I often forget name of people and want to go back and see who person X is if he is introduced before. Also for book discussions search would be useful.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:38 AM   #6
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Our local weekly paper (either Cinweekly or Citybeat) just had an in depth article comparing the Kindle and the 505. To answer the battery life question, the kindle gets much less battery life when in normal use. Normal use was buying books with the built-in wireless and normal reading, but it was somewhere on the order of days that the battery lasted.

In the end, the 505 was the authors pick, mostly for ergonomics and battery life. The Kindle is much more convenient having the EVDO connection, more format recognition, and a larger store library (they said the books are cheaper at Amazon than at the Sony store though I've seen proof otherwise), but... the Sony is just so much more likeable in it's simplicity. At least that's my opinion. I've only flipped through a couple of pages and menus on the Kindle, never bought a book or connected to Amazon with it.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:44 AM   #7
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The Europeans that see the Kindle are going to think it's ugly, trust me! If I were going to Europe, I would want something that looks classy and refined, which the Kindle is not. And that EVDO connection will be pretty useless over there.
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Old 05-16-2008, 01:26 PM   #8
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The Europeans that see the Kindle are going to think it's ugly, trust me! If I were going to Europe, I would want something that looks classy and refined, which the Kindle is not. And that EVDO connection will be pretty useless over there.
Yes, because we Americans are so crass and crude while all Europeans are swave and debonair.

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Old 05-17-2008, 04:31 AM   #9
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Personally I think the keyboard and the search makes it stand out from the crowd.
Don't you think that having a permanent keyboard in front of your eyes and under your hands on your eBOOK reader would be an unbearable stand out nuisance?
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Old 05-17-2008, 06:34 AM   #10
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Don't you think that having a permanent keyboard in front of your eyes and under your hands on your eBOOK reader would be an unbearable stand out nuisance?
I think so, but I can see a time (version 510 perhaps?) where a bluetooth or infrared keyboard such as Palm devices use, or with a USB port, which would attach to the bottom of the 505 (510, whatever they number the next version) for use with dictionaries, to play word games with, to enter notes and memos, might be possible.

That way the Sony would retain it's very excellent form factor most of the time but those who wish could use a keyboard with it when desired.

The Kindle looks way too awkward to be of comfortable reading capability the way my 500 is.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:39 AM   #11
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She knows that the modem won't work in Europe, but she wanted to buy a bunch of books before she left (as if she won't have enough to do while exploring museums and stores) and decided that she didn't want to try to learn Calibre (she uses a Mac) or install the Connect software into a Windows partition.

Also: I agree with the concern that the keyboard would, when not being used, be a big nuisance. Those buttons just beg to be touched.
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Old 05-19-2008, 01:18 PM   #12
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She knows that the modem won't work in Europe, but she wanted to buy a bunch of books before she left (as if she won't have enough to do while exploring museums and stores) and decided that she didn't want to try to learn Calibre (she uses a Mac) or install the Connect software into a Windows partition.

Also: I agree with the concern that the keyboard would, when not being used, be a big nuisance. Those buttons just beg to be touched.
The buttons on the keyboard do not function while in the read mode. I don't even see or think about the keyboard on the Kindle unless I need to look up a word or access the net (wikipedia, ESPN for scores) or order a new book.

I had a 500, 505 and now the Kindle. I really liked all the eink devices I've had. I think it depends on your needs and what you like that determins which reader is best for you. I see why people stick with and love the 505. It has advantages over the Kindle. And I see why people prefer the Kindle. I don't think one device out shines the other to the extent that you should only consider one reader. That is why there are Toyota's, Honda's, Fords, and Chryslers. It depends on your individual tastes and needs.

I didn't think I would use the dictionary but use it every day. I thought Wikipedia was nice but have found it useful not just when reading but during my every day experiences when I see or hear something I want more information about. And I canceled the data plan on my phone because I only used it for up to the minute news, sports and scores which I now get on the Kindle for free. These are the reasons I prefer the Kindle but understand these things are not important to everyone.

I think there is and always will be a market for both.
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Old 05-19-2008, 02:27 PM   #13
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I think there is and always will be a market for both.
With this I heartily concur, and just as with the automobile analogy, having the competition will hopefully make all contenders stronger as they work to build the largest installed user base possible and borrow ideas from each other.

We all win in this situation!
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