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Old 05-27-2008, 04:15 PM   #1
t4jgt
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Should I buy?

Hello everyone. My hands and wallet are itching badly lately to buy one e-reader device. I stumbled to this site while I was researching for one and I have been lurking for a while.

First of all a big THANK YOU for preventing me from making the mistake to buy the Sony e-reader. It seems a nice device but for me PDF reading is a must and as everyone keeps saying the best option is the Iliad.

So I am considering to purchase the book edition. My biggest concern is that given the price of that device and the fact that commercial e-ink is new, should I wait a bit more or should I go for it. Are there better devices or lower prices expected a year from now? So far the features I need are available. Dictionary support, good readability without getting me tired and tons of books stuffed in a portable device which I can take to the beach or in bed. The only feature I would miss is a color display but I haven't read many color illustrated books lately.

I would be very disappointed if I bought the device now and within two months a new device appeared with lower price or improved technology at the same price.

Another concern is the support. I have read their forums and there seems a lot of complains about tech support. I believe you as more experienced community have a more clear view to the matter. Do you see any trend of improvement in this area? I am a bit skeptic in that matter because I have read a lot of comments saying that the iliad device is nice as long as it works.

So what should I do? Should I buy now or wait at least until Christmas and then think again?
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Old 05-27-2008, 04:35 PM   #2
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I don't think a 6" screen is ever going to be good enough for standard PDFs. So the alternatives to the iLiad will be devices with 8" (none announced) or 9.7" screens. The unknowns are the quality of the software and whether 9.7" screens are practical (e.g. can they be held in one hand and carried around in a bag without breaking).

There should be alternatives to the iLiad by Christmas that have larger screens and/or are cheaper. However, you then miss 6 months of ebook reading. My recommendation is to buy the book edition, because it is already more than "good enough" in nearly every way.
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Old 05-27-2008, 05:13 PM   #3
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I would be very disappointed if I bought the device now and within two months a new device appeared with lower price or improved technology at the same price.
Well, you should stop buying tech then. Pretty much anything you buy is obsolete the day you buy it... there will always be something newer, better, faster, cheaper the next day, week, month or year. Even if you wait a year for say the Astak Mentor 9.7 inch device... a year after that something better will be out... possibly by the same company.

The only way to stay on the bleeding edge it to bleed your wallet dry.

BOb
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Old 05-28-2008, 03:09 AM   #4
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A caution - dictionary support on the iLiad (and other devices too, for that matter) is only available with MobiPocket-format books, not with PDFs.
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Old 05-28-2008, 04:08 AM   #5
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t4jt:

I am too am greatly underwhelmed by the current crop of eink based readers. I opted for a cheaper and more versatile option to cover me while waiting to see if any company will be able to develop a decent eink (or eink-like) device.

At least with either a PDA or something like a Internet Tablet you can actually get on the web and a few other things. With my Nokia N800 I can, if I choose, have up to 64GB of space and it will cost less then a Sony 505 which is a one-trick-pony.
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Old 05-28-2008, 04:26 AM   #6
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I am too am greatly underwhelmed by the current crop of eink based readers.
Have you actually used one for any length of time, as a matter of interest? As someone who's been reading eBooks for over 20 years, I find personally that the eInk devices (I've used all of them except the Kindle, which isn't available in the UK) are truly excellent.
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:25 AM   #7
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Before you dismiss the Sony Reader PRS-505, take note that we are waiting for a firmware upgrade that should allow the 505 to support ePub and have better support for PDF. How much better, we won't know till we get it.

Also there are some 9.7" screen sized eink devices due out sometime this year. So the question is that if you find the iLiad too expensive, then you might want to wait to see how the 505 fairs with the new firmware (when it's released) and how the 9.7" devices are when they are released. Both the firmware for the 505 and the 9.7" devices should be out sometime later this year.

The one thing to note, the ilIad while it's nice device has the shorted battery life of all eink devices. So do you buy now and pay a high price and get a short battery life or do you wait and see what happens later this year? That is something you'll need to decide for yourself.

As for the current 6" eink devices, I feel the 505 is the best one for PDF give that there is a program called PDFLRF to preprocess the PDF so it is more readable on a 6" screen. The Kindle won't read PDF, the Gen3's PDF reading seems to be broken in some cases according to others on the forum, and the 505 works just not all that well without preprocessing. But using PDFLRF, makes the Letter/A$ sized PDF not 1/2 bad.
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:08 AM   #8
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The Kindle *does* read pdfs but it's still in experimental phase so your results may vary. You have to convert them through Amazon. In my little tests, image heavy pdfs are iffy but mostly plain text comes through just fine.
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:10 AM   #9
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As for the current 6" eink devices, I feel the 505 is the best one for PDF give that there is a program called PDFLRF to preprocess the PDF so it is more readable on a 6" screen. The Kindle won't read PDF, the Gen3's PDF reading seems to be broken in some cases according to others on the forum, and the 505 works just not all that well without preprocessing. But using PDFLRF, makes the Letter/A$ sized PDF not 1/2 bad.
MobiPocket Reader (for Windows) generally does a pretty good job of converting PDF files to Mobi, and it appears as though the Kindle's "mail in" PDF converter uses the same software to do the job. The results are (IMHO) just as nice as those from "LDFLRF". No device with a 6" screen is, however, terribly good for PDF.
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:15 AM   #10
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daffy & Harry, I hate to say this, but I've tried Mobipocket Creator to convert some PDF and the results have been less then good. Downright pathetic. Sometimes a PDF is not going to convert well enough and the formatting is essential as it is to keep it readable.

Even Adobe Acrobat cannot always do a proper conversion without errors.

So (IMHO), purchasing a device based on converting PDF is not a good idea.
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:21 AM   #11
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Hence the final line of my post, Jon! If PDF is vital to you, don't buy any device with a 6" screen - it's really a non-starter. If you intend to mainly read Sony LRF or Mobi books, with the occasional need to read PDFs, then the converters may do a good enough job for you. You really need to try them out (PDFLRF and Mobi Reader are both free downloads) and see if they work well or not on the type of material that you're dealing with. On straight text they generally work OK. On complex layouts much less well.
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:21 AM   #12
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daffy & Harry, I hate to say this, but I've tried Mobipocket Creator to convert some PDF and the results have been less then good. Downright pathetic. Sometimes a PDF is not going to convert well enough and the formatting is essential as it is to keep it readable.

Even Adobe Acrobat cannot always do a proper conversion without errors.
I agree, so far to me Mobipocket doesn't make the best pdfs. I made one from a word doc that should have been 2 pages on the Kindle, it ended up with 8 pages (lots of blanks). Sending the same file as a doc or html through Amazon worked better. Luckily, Mobipocket is not the only way to make pdfs . I'm going to experiment with cutepdf, which is what I've used for years to make my personal pdfs.
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:22 AM   #13
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There are many converters that one can try. For straightforward text PDFs, Mobi Reader does (in my experience) a reasonably decent job.
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Old 05-28-2008, 01:15 PM   #14
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First of all thank you all who took the time to reply. As for now I am almost sure that I want it. But I have 2 questions.

1. During searches on the web I found that many early buyers considered that they purchased a beta product. Given that it is in the market since 2006 it is still considered a beta product? I don't want to pay 500€ to be a beta tester.

2. I have read somewhere about the improved Epson controller. What exactly is this and how it can affect my decision?

Generally I have the feeling that for at least 2 years there is no ground breaking technology improvement expected in hardware so it might be a good time to buy now.
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:13 PM   #15
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1. During searches on the web I found that many early buyers considered that they purchased a beta product. Given that it is in the market since 2006 it is still considered a beta product? I don't want to pay 500€ to be a beta tester.

2. I have read somewhere about the improved Epson controller. What exactly is this and how it can affect my decision?
There are still many things that could be better, but the software for PDF and MOBI (and many non-DRMed ebook formats using FBReader) is solid.

The Epson controller is new, with the 1st prototype kit available in June. It promises greatly improved partial screen refresh performance which may allow a more flexible GUI. It isn't clear how much custom code would need to be generated to take full advantage of the controller though. This might turn up in a 2nd generation Kindle (say), but probably next year at the earliest.
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