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Old 04-01-2009, 04:08 AM   #1
jbruce
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Yes - another review of the 700

3rd week in - and so many books read. I'll try to cover some things I haven't seen mentioned a lot, as well as some things already covered (while trying to avoid horses which are quite dead - decomposing - and being picked apart by ravens). Also, want to focus on the things I don't want changed in the Gen2.

Button Layout: If you're like me, I hold books by the spine - leaving one hand free to grab the Dr. Pepper and/or nearby snack - the brilliance of the button placement is transparent. The page turning buttons are located near the spine and can be turned by your thumb. Whereas with the 505 or other readers this "spine-hold" would be essentially impossible. Constantly having to reach for the button with your free hand; or, holding the device by the edge - book cover flappin' in the breeze.

The less used buttons are to the right - which also makes sense.

Book Design (more of a request than a device critique): Add margins - please. I am a highlight junky. Unfortunately, without a little extra space on, at least, the right side of the page - I can't highlight if the last letter is on the edge. Instead, having to go to the "space" on the next line. Again, more of a request.

Page Turning (touchscreen): Generally - I don't use it. Sure it was neat when I first got it ("Look at what I can do!"). But, given the natural way I can hold it (see above) - I don't need to swipe-turn pages. (And, no, smudges had nothing to do with the decision.)

Highlighting/Bookmarking (touchscreen): When I read books - I dog-ear and highlight - a lot. (I had over two dozen notes just from The Picture of Dorian Gray.) The quickness and book-like methods for doing so really sold me on the 700. To dog-ear a real book - you just reach down and crease the page. With the 700 - double-tap the corner. To highlight I would grab the nearest highlighter, pen, crayon - and underline the text. With the 700 grab the stylus (highlighter); select the highlighter in notes mode (I usually stay in this mode - taking the cap off); and, highlight the text - done.

So much smoother and "realistic" than using a joystick to move a cursor around.

Annotation (touchscreen): The other thing that sold me on the 700 - no permanent keyboard to get in the way. Even though I take notes a lot - I don't want to be staring at a keyboard while Nemo is claiming Antarctica; or, Dorian is basking in his own glory.

Just like the pen I use to write in the margins goes away when I don't need it - so should the keyboard. And, the fact that the keyboard caches not only keystrokes - but whole words - means that my typing speed is about the same as that when I'm sending text messages on an iPhone or my Alias.

Form Factor: It's smaller than a DVD case. Enough said really.

Corner Magnets: I like that the case has metal inlays which clamp it shut due to the internal magnets of the 700.

Sleep Mode: Use it all the time. A quick flip - e-ink and light go away. Another - and it's back - right where I left it (without the lights).

Current Page: I enjoy that the last page I was on is also stored. If I open a book in progress - it's on the last page I was on. And, the home screen has a quicklink to the last book I was reading.

Basically, the short and tall of it is, this thing has a lot going for it - and was worth the price of admission.

Sony could probably stop with major changes by Gen2. Like special effects in movies - good design is done when you don't even notice it was done. And, regarding 90% of the 700 - you wouldn't notice the design thought/process/considerations behind it. Sure, there are a couple of aspects which deal with implementation (density of touchscreen - for example) - but, as far as replicating the other aspects of reading a "normal" book - pretty much spot on.

And, not to mention, but I will anyway, they're playing well with others to get this technology, as a whole, adopted - Google, Borders (to let people see the device), and Barnes and Noble (who own Fictionwise and eBooks).

Thanks goes to the folks at Sony who, at least appear to have, considered the way people interact with books first; rather, than the closest technological cousin (PDA) when developing the 700.

Cheers,
J
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Old 04-01-2009, 10:41 AM   #2
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page turning

I too have a PRS 700 and I've had it since it came out. I use a swipe to turn the page almost all the time since I find that to be most like the motion I use with a paper book and so, the most natural. It only takes a quick movement in a small part of a corner of the screen with my thumb to change a page, so I haven't had any problem with smudges in my field of vision. Also, I think the screen design discourages smudges because my lcd phone screen is much more reflective and smudge prone. The ability to change a page by swiping your thumb across less than an inch of screen real estate is so natural in fact that when I get into a book I've actually found my self moistening my thumb to turn a page, like I would with a paper book, and have had to catch myself and mentally say, "Hey wait a minute! this is not real paper!". To me this is the best compliment I can offer to explain how natural using the PRS 700 really is. When I find myself occasionally holding the reader by the top, it doesn't matter, I can still change the page without moving my thumb position, because I'm not dependant on where the buttons are - another advantage of a touch screen, at least to me.
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Old 04-01-2009, 11:15 AM   #3
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Thanks for the review. I find reviews like this with personal preferences and styles to be very useful.

One small comment about spine-holding and the PRS-505: There is another page-turning button on the lower left of the 505, such that your thumb is perfectly placed on that page-turning button. I was equally amazed at Sony's thoughtful designers when I discovered this. It's even better than the 700's button's location, lying in a circular pad whose only purpose is page-turning, designed ergonomically to be the best choice for spine-holding with either left or right hand. Just perfect.
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Old 04-01-2009, 02:23 PM   #4
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jbruce: kudos for the review! you said everything I love about it too ( I was just to lazy to actually put it in words..) However I usually hold books on my right hand, so a simple swipe of the thumb (from right to left) is so convinent and gives the "im reading a real book" feel!
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Old 04-02-2009, 01:52 AM   #5
jbruce
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Quote:
kudos for the review!
Cheers.

Oddly enough - even when I'm reading right-handed - still hold it by the spine.

Quote:
One small comment about spine-holding and the PRS-505
Thanks JJ forgot all about it (probably because I don't own one). It seems awfully low on the "page" - and what are the buttons nearby? Will have to go to Sony store and play with it a bit.

Quote:
It only takes a quick movement in a small part of a corner of the screen with my thumb to change a page
That is one of the things I neglected to mention. The fact that it takes a very small movement is great.

J
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj2me View Post
One small comment about spine-holding and the PRS-505: There is another page-turning button on the lower left of the 505, such that your thumb is perfectly placed on that page-turning button.
I think the buttons on the 505 are awesomely placed as well, and I frequently go back and forth with each hand, alternately spine holding and side holding.

Thanks for the review, jbruce. I find that the things you mention liking that matter most are also things I like about the 505. One of these days, I'm going to have to go check out a 700 in the store. THe dust bunny reports freak me out though
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Old 04-11-2009, 03:43 PM   #7
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So I just came back from the Sonystyle store here in Canada to see the 505 and the 700 up close and personal. The 700 is not as bad as some folks on these forums are making it out to be. Are there contrast differences between the two? Absolutely. Is the 700 perfect? No, but it's absolutely worth consideration. If I didn't know any better about the 505, I would think that the 700 is a great device on its own.

I don't own an ereader device yet but for the improved pdf handling, internal lighting, and faster processor I think the 700 is worth it.

EDIT 04/13/09: I'm embarrassed to say but I bought the PRS-700 on 04/11/09 and was unhappy with the muted contrast. (It sure looked better in the bright store). I just brought it back to the store and exchanged for the PRS-505. Not only did I save $100 but I think I'm a lot happier with the improved contrast. As hypocritical as I might sound, it really is a lot better and my apologies to those that I doubted with their review of the PRS-700.

Last edited by All4Fun; 04-13-2009 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:04 PM   #8
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I have noticed that the fonts actually makes a big impact. Some fonts just are not suitable for a low dpi screen like e-ink. Adding that to the touch screen layer of 700 makes things quite bad I have to say.
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Old 04-13-2009, 04:20 PM   #9
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@jbruce: I agree with you on all the features you liked about the 700.

For me, the best feature is the annotations and highlights. I can view the annotated files on the Sony software and the Adobe DE software on my laptop (the day Calibre supports annotations, I'll probably faint from joy). My old method for marking quotes and points in books for school papers involved a byzantine system of colored flags and notecards--such a time-suck! I'd sit at my desk with a messy pile of print-outs, photocopies and library books and leaf through them all to find what I needed. Between the 700 and Zotero, finding quotes and citing sources is so fast and easy.

re: touchscreen page turn function
When I'm holding the reader in my left hand, I hardly ever use it, but when I hold it in my right hand, it's very useful. It also works great when you're holding the reader at the bottom in the horizontal orientation, left and right handed.

@505 folks: "Better" is subjective. No argument that the 505 text is crisper, but I think liking the 700 depends on how and what you read, and probably on your eyesight. For me, the ability to highlight, annotate, and then search my annotations is worth the reduction in contrast. If I wanted to purchase an eReader solely for recreational reading, I might go with the 505 (though I do really, really love the simplified controls and built-in light on the 700).

I have pretty decent vision (no need for glasses or contacts) so the lessened contrast doesn't really bother me. Even though I like to read for 5 or 6 hours in a sitting, I haven't experienced eyestrain at all thanks to the ability to increase font size if my eyes get tired (really, that is the feature that makes eReaders way better than books, no matter what make or model you have). So, for me, the 700 is "better" because it meets both my recreational and academic reading needs, and improves the experience for both.
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