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Old 11-09-2008, 08:15 PM   #1
Ler0y Jenkins
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My review of the 505 v. 700...

Let me start off by saying that I don't currently own an e-reader and have never owned one either. I was in Arlington, VA this weekend and was able to check out the Sony Style Store in Tyson's Corner Mall. Here are my impressions:

1. The Screen. Yes, the contrast on the 700 is noticeably inferior to the 505. To me, the 505 looks almost fake because it is so crisp and clear. In fact, when I first saw a 505 in Borders, I thought it was a fake demo unit with a sticker depicting what the screen was supposed to look like. I was very impressed when I pressed the button and the "sticker" changed.

The 700, on the other hand, looks like a monochromatic LCD screen. It was fuzzy, washed out, and had poor contrast. I know some people have speculated that the difference in contrast is caused by the plastic (or whatever) cover that houses the lights and/or touch-sensors, but to me the contrast was so lousy that it seemed to be a completely different screen. I really can't over emphasize how noticeable the difference in screen quality was between the two units. This is a deal-breaker for me. Unless people post pictures showing that the actual production units are substantially improved, I will be buying a 505.

Also, the 700 suffers from really bad screen-glare. I imagine the lights in the store made this worse that it would be reading at home, but I had trouble even seeing the screen due to the glare problems. It's like the screen has a glossy finish, rather than a matte finish like the 505. Why Sony would switch from matte to glossy, I have no idea.

Overall, the display on the 505 was significantly better than on the 700. Even my brother, who has never seen an e-reader before, thought that the 505 was the newer model because of how much better the screen was.

2. The Touchscreen. The touch screen worked really well. I didn't really have a chance to do much other than a few page changes, but it seemed really responsive.

3. The Built-in Lights. The lights are a nice touch. In the store it's hard to tell how effective they are but they seem to do their job. You can see light and dark areas along the edges where the lights are situated, but this isn't a big deal to me. Some people might get annoyed with it, but for me it's similar to my lightwedge and that never really bothered me.

4. The Speed. Some people have mentioned that the 700 changes pages almost instantly. That's an exaggeration. The 700 is noticeably faster than the 505, but there is still a small delay.

Overall, the 700 is a nice machine but the screen quality is a deal-breaker for me. I can see myself getting eye-strain trying to read from the 700's screen for long periods of time. I'm very disapointed by this becuase I was set on getting a 700. I liked the increased speed and the built-in lights but those features are overshadowed by the poor quality screen. Anyway, that's my .02. Before you buy, I suggest you go and check it out for yourself.
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Old 11-09-2008, 08:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ler0y Jenkins View Post
Let me start off by saying that I don't currently own an e-reader and have never owned one either. I was in Arlington, VA this weekend and was able to check out the Sony Style Store in Tyson's Corner Mall. Here are my impressions:

1. The Screen. Yes, the contrast on the 700 is noticeably inferior to the 505. To me, the 505 looks almost fake because it is so crisp and clear. In fact, when I first saw a 505 in Borders, I thought it was a fake demo unit with a sticker depicting what the screen was supposed to look like. I was very impressed when I pressed the button and the "sticker" changed.

The 700, on the other hand, looks like a monochromatic LCD screen. It was fuzzy, washed out, and had poor contrast. I know some people have speculated that the difference in contrast is caused by the plastic (or whatever) cover that houses the lights and/or touch-sensors, but to me the contrast was so lousy that it seemed to be a completely different screen. I really can't over emphasize how noticeable the difference in screen quality was between the two units. This is a deal-breaker for me. Unless people post pictures showing that the actual production units are substantially improved, I will be buying a 505.

Also, the 700 suffers from really bad screen-glare. I imagine the lights in the store made this worse that it would be reading at home, but I had trouble even seeing the screen due to the glare problems. It's like the screen has a glossy finish, rather than a matte finish like the 505. Why Sony would switch from matte to glossy, I have no idea.

Overall, the display on the 505 was significantly better than on the 700. Even my brother, who has never seen an e-reader before, thought that the 505 was the newer model because of how much better the screen was.

2. The Touchscreen. The touch screen worked really well. I didn't really have a chance to do much other than a few page changes, but it seemed really responsive.

3. The Built-in Lights. The lights are a nice touch. In the store it's hard to tell how effective they are but they seem to do their job. You can see light and dark areas along the edges where the lights are situated, but this isn't a big deal to me. Some people might get annoyed with it, but for me it's similar to my lightwedge and that never really bothered me.

4. The Speed. Some people have mentioned that the 700 changes pages almost instantly. That's an exaggeration. The 700 is noticeably faster than the 505, but there is still a small delay.

Overall, the 700 is a nice machine but the screen quality is a deal-breaker for me. I can see myself getting eye-strain trying to read from the 700's screen for long periods of time. I'm very disapointed by this becuase I was set on getting a 700. I liked the increased speed and the built-in lights but those features are overshadowed by the poor quality screen. Anyway, that's my .02. Before you buy, I suggest you go and check it out for yourself.
Thanks for the impressions, these are my thoughts on the 700 as well. Great potential, but the screen really ruins any chance of the 700 being the reader I buy.

Last edited by johnnyr; 11-09-2008 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 11-09-2008, 09:59 PM   #3
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I agree. I couldn't believe the screen was as bad as people say, so I spent an hour driving to the SF Sony store and looked at the 505 and 700 side by side. I was surprised -- it IS as bad as people in this forum say. It's too bad, because the 700 is a nice machine, with its built-in light and 5 different text sizes. Page turns are about the same as the 505 as far as I could see, but it is much faster when you want to go from reading a book to the list of installed books. If they'd keep the 505 form (without the touch-sensitive screen) and add the faster processor and the software, I'd buy it, but the present 700 screen nullifies any good points the new reader may have.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:17 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by talaivan View Post
I agree. I couldn't believe the screen was as bad as people say, so I spent an hour driving to the SF Sony store and looked at the 505 and 700 side by side. I was surprised -- it IS as bad as people in this forum say. It's too bad, because the 700 is a nice machine, with its built-in light and 5 different text sizes. Page turns are about the same as the 505 as far as I could see, but it is much faster when you want to go from reading a book to the list of installed books. If they'd keep the 505 form (without the touch-sensitive screen) and add the faster processor and the software, I'd buy it, but the present 700 screen nullifies any good points the new reader may have.
Exactly. I don't know how anyone could say that the 700's screen is acceptable. I really can't believe that Sony would screw this up. I wonder if they went with an inferior screen believing that people would just use the built-in light? I would love to see some specs because they seem like completely different screens to me.
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:12 PM   #5
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I received my PRS-700 from SonyStyle today. It's going back tomorrow. I can't believe how bad the screen is. I also have a PRS-505 and there is no comparison in contrast, clarity and screen glare. The ergonomics and touch screen are nice, but I think somewhere along the way Sony forgot that a Reader is mostly about reading and the screen quality is paramount. The reading experience on the 700 is worse than what I had with the early 500.

The UI is speedy, same for page turns. It is faster than PRS505, although I found the difference to be subtle. The ergonomics are good, even though it lacks the page-turn buttons on the side. But if the reading is poor then what good is all that.

Pfff...bummer. On the bright side, I found a new appreciation for PRS505.

Last edited by Trek; 11-11-2008 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 11-11-2008, 05:07 PM   #6
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I hear ya. I always thought e-readers were a waste of money until I saw a 505 in person and saw how paper-like e-ink technology was. To me, that is the only reason to spend $300 or $400 on something that doesn't do much more than display text. If I wanted a dim, fuzzy screen I could have just bought an old-school LCD PDA for about $25.00 on ebay.
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Old 11-11-2008, 05:55 PM   #7
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Yup, there's nothing paper-like about the PRS700 screen. The e-ink Force is not strong in this one. =)
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Old 11-12-2008, 11:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trek View Post
I received my PRS-700 from SonyStyle today. It's going back tomorrow. I can't believe how bad the screen is. I also have a PRS-505 and there is no comparison in contrast, clarity and screen glare. The ergonomics and touch screen are nice, but I think somewhere along the way Sony forgot that a Reader is mostly about reading and the screen quality is paramount. The reading experience on the 700 is worse than what I had with the early 500.

The UI is speedy, same for page turns. It is faster than PRS505, although I found the difference to be subtle. The ergonomics are good, even though it lacks the page-turn buttons on the side. But if the reading is poor then what good is all that.
I totally agree with this, it's just how I feel. I was hoping people were just over-reacting, but holding my 505 and 700 side-by-side, there is no comparison, and the glare & lack of contrast & clarity just make it hard to read. I look at my 505, and I look at my 700, and I know which one I'm keeping and which one is going back to Sony tomorrow.

Quote:
Pfff...bummer. On the bright side, I found a new appreciation for PRS505.
Exactly!

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Old 11-13-2008, 06:01 PM   #9
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O.K., I just tried out the 505 to compare it again to the 700.

The screen of the 505 is better - no question about it. But, under sufficiently bright light, the 700 is O.K., and the difference between the two screens is significantly diminished. I guess the first time I went to the Sony Style store, I was comparing them under a very bright light, and that's why I went with the 700.

BUT, I actually tried the 505 with a book of about 500+ pages, converted from a PDF to EPUB in Calibre.

The book was easy to navigate and flip through on the 700. On the 505, it was a very different experience: First, I thought I had a blank page, then that I had not pressed the page button -- it was that slow! Choosing to go directly to p. 200 took ages - I mean I could have made a cup of coffee. And changing font size, which is natural and fast on the 700, is excruciatingly slow on the 505.

To boot, page changes on the 500+ page book were significantly longer on the 505, than changing pages on the short demo excerpts they had loaded on it. In fact, on the 500+ page book the time it took to flip a page was a bit too long to be considered an enjoyable reading experience.

Argh....
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Old 11-13-2008, 07:23 PM   #10
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Having just purchased the PRS-700 after owning the PRS-505, it is true the display has a much lower contrast and has a glare problem, but what I've found is that turning on the backlight (well, sidelight) seems to help. So even if you are in an environment where it is bright enough that you might not consider turning on the light, and are getting annoyed by contrast/glare issues, try turning it on. Yes, I've tried comparing the two are there are plenty of environments where the PRS-505 is quite readable, and the PRS-700 (without the assistance of the sidelight) is not readable, but turning on the light really does help.
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Old 11-14-2008, 04:36 AM   #11
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Having just purchased the PRS-700 after owning the PRS-505, it is true the display has a much lower contrast and has a glare problem, but what I've found is that turning on the backlight (well, sidelight) seems to help. So even if you are in an environment where it is bright enough that you might not consider turning on the light, and are getting annoyed by contrast/glare issues, try turning it on. Yes, I've tried comparing the two are there are plenty of environments where the PRS-505 is quite readable, and the PRS-700 (without the assistance of the sidelight) is not readable, but turning on the light really does help.
That means you'll have only a few hours of reading before the battery
is drained, in this case isn't it cheaper to buy a pocketpc ?
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Old 11-14-2008, 06:45 PM   #12
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I find that the 700 is perfectly readable in the same ambient light my 500 was readable in, and the light on the 700 is fine for the same conditions I had to haul out my booklight for the 500 (only with the 700 the light's already there and there's no extra weight nor extra worrying about batteries).

I read for 30 minutes last night with the light on, and for 30 minutes this afternoon without the light on, and the battery is still reading fully charged.
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Old 11-17-2008, 10:18 AM   #13
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I spent about 15 minutes playing with a 700 at SonyStyle over the weekend with my 505 (with lightwedge cover right next to it for comparison). I liked everything about the 700 except for the screen and the actual lighting. Of course, as those are the two most critical things, I left the store with my 505 and decided not to purchase a 700 (and I'm a new tech junkie...). The screen of the 700 seemed much less "bright" (more yellow, too) and was simply not as crisp of a reading experience. And the lights, to me, simply did not present an even lighting pattern across the screen, so my eye had to travel from light to dark to light again as I read. I really liked the touchscreen and the look and feel of the device (the search is pretty cool, although without a dictionary I'm not sure how much I'd use it), but with the actual reading experience seeming to be less than on my 505, I was able to make the decision easily.
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:20 AM   #14
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When I saw the 700 in the Sony Store the first thing I noticed was fingerprints all over the screen. Who needs that?

Also of importance to me is good contrast. I have macular degeneration in one eye and the 505 gives me a good high quality reading experience.
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Old 11-17-2008, 03:20 PM   #15
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I spent about 15 minutes playing with a 700 at SonyStyle over the weekend with my 505 (with lightwedge cover right next to it for comparison). I liked everything about the 700 except for the screen and the actual lighting. Of course, as those are the two most critical things, I left the store with my 505 and decided not to purchase a 700 (and I'm a new tech junkie...). The screen of the 700 seemed much less "bright" (more yellow, too) and was simply not as crisp of a reading experience. And the lights, to me, simply did not present an even lighting pattern across the screen, so my eye had to travel from light to dark to light again as I read. I really liked the touchscreen and the look and feel of the device (the search is pretty cool, although without a dictionary I'm not sure how much I'd use it), but with the actual reading experience seeming to be less than on my 505, I was able to make the decision easily.
So you're saying that the 700 had worse contrast than the 505 with the lightwedge cover on but not illuminated?

Some people have speculated that the low screen contrast and poor sharpness are due to the plastic overlay necessary for the lights (and maybe touchscreen?). I, on the other hand, believe that the two models use two different screens and that even with the lightwedge cover over the 505, the 505 would be remarkably clearer and crisper than the 700. Am I correct or are they comparable when the lights are off?

I agree with you, btw, regarding the yellowness of the 700's screen. That's the biggest thing that turned me off of the 700 - its screen was just ugly.
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