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Old 02-25-2009, 12:19 PM   #1
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Pros and Cons of Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle?

I'm starting to research ereaders and it looks like the Sony PRS-505 and Kindle are best of the lot (with the 700 having screen issues and being more expensive).

I've been trying to gather what the strengths and weaknesses of each are, and here's what I've come up with and I'd love any corrections or additions from users here!

Kindle 2
Pros
-wireless access to store
-store has larger selection and cheaper prices vs. Sony store
-keyboard for searching etc.

Cons
-books tied to Amazon with DRM--in the unlikely event Amazon goes under you couldn't redownload (though seems there are ways to strip drm and back up to PC).
-No SD card slot (not a biggy for me, kindle 2 has plenty of space)
-battery not removable, $60 for Amazon to replace
-supports less formats, PDF support is "experimental" (though I mainly would want PDF support for scholarly journal articles, and it sounds like neither do well on those since they're full of tables and figures)
-costs 10 cents to send word documents, pdfs etc. to it (can you do it for free over USB hook up to your PC?)
-Plastic, so likely more fragile to drops etc.

Sony PRS-505
Pros
-cheaper--$269 at Amazon currently, was a deal for $205 recently, and could ge tit for $150 with the $150 credit for using Sony card on $299.99 and up purchase.
-nicer looking design
-metal so seems more durable
-supports more formats
-some libraries offer titles for borrowing in formats it supports

Cons
-book store has fewer titles and many are more expensive (including some wants I looked up)
-have too hook up to PC to transfer books
-no wireless network or WIFI capabilities


So that's what I've gathered so far. I lean toward the Kindle for the wireless access, and the broader selection and cheaper prices. But $359 is a good bit out of my grad student budget and I don't see Amazon making any big price cuts any time soon. Thus the Sony is more affordable, especially with the Sony Card deal.

So I'm torn. At the moment I'm still leaning toward just waiting a few months, hoarding my Amazon Visa reward gift certificates and picking up a Kindle 2 in the fall after I finish the Ph D and start my new job.

I suppose picking up a used Kindle 1 cheaper on Craig's List may be an option--but it would have to be very cheap (say $150 or less) for me to take a chance on a used one and that's probably unlikely. And I'd like the better screen and design of the Kindle 2 as well.

Some general questions to help on this decision:

Is there a difference in the amount of free books you can get across the two?

Is it true that PDFs with lots of figures and tables and in 8.5x11 page design (again scholarly journal articles) are a lost cause on both and will probably always bee on small ereaders?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Last edited by dmaul1114; 02-25-2009 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 02-25-2009, 12:44 PM   #2
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I really have to ask why you're only considering those two machines? The CyBook Gen3 is superior to both, IMHO, because:

- You can load any font you wish onto the machine and view any font in any of 12 different text sizes.
- Dictionary lookup in any of hundreds of different Mobi dictionaries.
- A user-replaceable battery.
- Mobipocket support - very much the de facto industry standard, with the best-implemented Mobi support of any eInk device.
- Available world-wide, with a world-wide warranty.
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Old 02-25-2009, 12:49 PM   #3
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I'm lazy and really want a machine that has a good store attached to it. Hence why I lean toward the Kindle since it's cheaper than the Sony store and all the others I've found.

I doubt I'd do a whole lot of scouring the net for deals on books, loading free books etc. But I will look into that machine a bit for sure.
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:06 PM   #4
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I really have to ask why you're only considering those two machines? The CyBook Gen3 is superior to both, IMHO, because:

- You can load any font you wish onto the machine and view any font in any of 12 different text sizes.
- Dictionary lookup in any of hundreds of different Mobi dictionaries.
- A user-replaceable battery.
- Mobipocket support - very much the de facto industry standard, with the best-implemented Mobi support of any eInk device.
- Available world-wide, with a world-wide warranty.
I was looking at the Cybook but quickly ruled it out after finding out it has only 4 gray scales, woefully inadequate for anything but plain text. Love that fonts can be installed and handles drm Mobipocket files out of the box, though.
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:21 PM   #5
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I was looking at the Cybook but quickly ruled it out after finding out it has only 4 gray scales, woefully inadequate for anything but plain text.
You're not going to be viewing "art" on any eInk device and honestly, in practical terms, whether an eInk screen has 4, 8, or 16 grey scales makes next to no practical difference. The dithering algorithm that the machine has does a perfectly respectable job of handling the type of illustrations found in most books. Not to mention the fact that the overwhelming majority of books do consist simply of "plain text" .
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:58 PM   #6
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You're not going to be viewing "art" on any eInk device and honestly, in practical terms, whether an eInk screen has 4, 8, or 16 grey scales makes next to no practical difference. The dithering algorithm that the machine has does a perfectly respectable job of handling the type of illustrations found in most books. Not to mention the fact that the overwhelming majority of books do consist simply of "plain text" .
This is a personal issue if one can tolerate 2 bit images, but there is quite a difference between 4 (on left) and 16 shades:
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Old 02-25-2009, 02:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by dmaul1114 View Post
Cons
-books tied to Amazon with DRM--in the unlikely event Amazon goes under you couldn't redownload (though seems there are ways to strip drm and back up to PC).
This applies to the Sony store also. Any other store where you by DRM for that matter. This isn't a "problem" with the Kindle, it is systemic to the industry and the use of DRM as a whole.

BOb
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Old 02-25-2009, 02:42 PM   #8
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You're lazy? But if you're mostly going to read academic PDFs, neither the Sony Store nor the Amazon store will do you good. You'll be downloading journals from places like Jstor or whatnot.
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Old 02-25-2009, 02:47 PM   #9
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another pro in favor of the sony is that it supports epub, the industry standard format. more and more publishers are choosing epub for their digital editions and it's an excellent archive format as well. support for an open, standard format is a huge plus in my opinion, particularly since epub is a very powerful format which is already worlds better than any other format currently available and will continue to improve, as will the epub viewers.

having said that, ceBit is coming up at the beginning of march, so you may want to wait a couple of weeks to see if there are any new devices that could fit your requirements.

also, since budget is a concern, check our flea-market forum and ebay for used devices. you might be able to get a deal.
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Old 02-25-2009, 03:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
You're not going to be viewing "art" on any eInk device and honestly, in practical terms, whether an eInk screen has 4, 8, or 16 grey scales makes next to no practical difference.
It does make a difference, actually. Everyone who had a Sony PRS-500 and then upgraded to a PRS-505 will tell you that. The controller used for displaying 4 grey scales is the oldest among the bunch. The PRS-505 uses the newer Metronome controller from E Ink which adds new control functions for improved display.

Back to the original question: If you can make use of Whispernet and are frequently purchasing commercial e-books, get the K2. It's so convenient to use, especially when you are traveling, that any other device pales in comparison.
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:53 PM   #11
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You're not going to be viewing "art" on any eInk device
How can you know that? I view black and white art pieces on my DR 1000s all the time. I have numerous RPG PDF books containing art (in some cases full page pieces), none of which would I particularly want to look at on my Kindle 1. Perhaps my example isn't a popular one here, but I see no reason for it to be automatically invalidated.
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Old 02-26-2009, 12:02 AM   #12
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You're lazy? But if you're mostly going to read academic PDFs, neither the Sony Store nor the Amazon store will do you good. You'll be downloading journals from places like Jstor or whatnot.
I never said I'd mostly use it for Academic PDFs. It would just be a huge plus as it would save me printing so many out since I can't stand reading on a monitor/laptop. But it seems like no device does conversions well for academic PDFs since they're based on 8.5 x 11 pages with lots of tables and figures so it's moot for now.


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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
having said that, ceBit is coming up at the beginning of march, so you may want to wait a couple of weeks to see if there are any new devices that could fit your requirements. also, since budget is a concern, check our flea-market forum and ebay for used devices. you might be able to get a deal.
Definitely waiting as prices are too high and no devices are ideal--as is the norm with thinking of early adopting a technology.

For used it would have to be local so I could check out the unit first. I don't trust online purchases for used electronics.



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Back to the original question: If you can make use of Whispernet and are frequently purchasing commercial e-books, get the K2. It's so convenient to use, especially when you are traveling, that any other device pales in comparison.
That's what leans me in that direction since I live in a major city and mainly travel to major cities so I can definitely make good use of the Whispernet. That with the cheaper prices and better selection are huge pulls. But being $100+ more (technically $50 when talking MSRP, but the Sony is $269 or less pretty often including currently) is a kick in the pants.

At any rate, I'm leaning toward waiting until summer at the earliest unless I stumble across a great deal.

Last edited by dmaul1114; 02-27-2009 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 02-26-2009, 02:31 AM   #13
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It does make a difference, actually. Everyone who had a Sony PRS-500 and then upgraded to a PRS-505 will tell you that. The controller used for displaying 4 grey scales is the oldest among the bunch. The PRS-505 uses the newer Metronome controller from E Ink which adds new control functions for improved display.
I am speaking from practical experience . I've owned an iLiad in the past, which displays 16 grey scales. I really see very little difference in the image quality of the 16 grey-scale iLiad and the 4 grey-scale CyBook.

The important thing is to correctly process your images in a decent graphics package BEFORE including them in your eBook.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:54 AM   #14
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I'd suggest that you evaluate a little differently and start with your library.

Think 3 years ahead when you're replacing the device. If you buy 2 books a month at $10 a piece you'll have invested approximately $720 in your ebook library. If you think of that as disposable like your monthly cell phone bill then the Kindle is probably your best choice as Amazon has been selling the books cheaper. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that (IMHO).

If you expect to be able to transfer those ebooks to a new device then you should understand how the DRM will impact you for either device.

Amazon has demonstrated they will allow you to transfer the library to a new Kindle but they have no ability to export the library to load on another device. You'll probably be buying a new Kindle. If you really like the new Acme ebook reader but can't transfer your library to it you'll probably be upset.

Sony's store is the same but they also allow you to purchase Adobe encrypted ePub. You're options for purchasing other devices that support that will likely be larger but you'll still go through the pain of registering and redownloading all your books.

Alternatively you only buy ebooks without DRM or you strip the DRM as you purchase and then you have an open library that you can fair use transfer to any new reader. If you choose this option the book selection and technical comparison between the devices changes significantly. For example you might not use Whispernet for purchasing ebooks and it only becomes a nice to have available.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:12 AM   #15
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Sony's store is the same but they also allow you to purchase Adobe encrypted ePub. You're options for purchasing other devices that support that will likely be larger but you'll still go through the pain of registering and redownloading all your books.
Note that you don't have to redownload all your books for a new ePub-supporting device. Both the books and the device are tied to a particular "account", rather than the books being tied directly to the device. Register the new device to the same account and all your current books will work fine on it.
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