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Old 05-30-2009, 01:38 AM   #1
enarchay
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My Decision: Sony PRS-505 vs. Sony PRS-700 vs. Kindle 2

I’ve spent the last week or so trying to decide between the Sony PRS-505, the Sony PRS-700, and the Kindle 2. In the process, I’ve probably driven many of you crazy, since I’ve posted a lot of questions on this forum in a short amount of time. I had a tough time deciding, but ultimately I think I made the right choice – for me.

Since selecting an ereader depends a lot on what you plan to do with it, first let me explain my background.

I’m a college student, but I read a lot in my free time. While I read almost zero fiction, I’m really interested in more academic subjects, like philosophy, theology, and biblical scholarship. I also love reading blogs and online articles (that pertain to those subjects). Recently, a friend of mine started sending me some books in PDF format, while I also began coming across some interesting articles in PDF format on my own. I absolutely cannot stand to read on the computer: it hurts my eyes after a short amount of time and prevents me from truly concentrating. I never really feel like I’m reading when I read on the computer. On the other hand, I always find new books to add to my wish-list – sometimes for only a single chapter! – and the prices add up. An ereader saves me money, as ebooks are usually cheaper than paperback books, and I already have a bunch of books and articles saved to my computer. These are the main reasons I decided to buy an ereader.

As for my reading preferences, I try to take notes when I read. Someone recommended that it is best to handwrite your notes, because it is slower and as a result helps you better retain the material. In the past, I’ve put sticky-notes on pages to remember quotes, but I would always forget what quote I wanted to remember. However, it’s a big pain to hand-copy whole quotes. Since there are advantages to handwriting notes, note-taking ability was not exactly a must-have for me, but it was certainly preferable.

In sum, here is primarily what I was looking to do with an ereader:
  • Easily view blog posts and articles.
  • Easily view PDF books.
  • Be able to find what I’m looking for efficiently.
  • Read material without eyestrain.
  • Highlight text and/or take notes.
  • Reasonable price. Ereaders are rapidly advancing. The Kindle 3 – I mean, DX – is coming out soon, for example. I can imagine myself buying another, better – maybe even cheaper – ereader in a year or so, so I don’t want to spend a lot of money now.
While a dictionary, wikipedia, and internet access would be nice, it’s not essential to what I need from an ereader. Here is how the Sony-505, Sony-700, and Kindle 2 compare on the above six criteria.

Kindle 2. The Kindle 2 does not have native PDF support. Notice the “easily” above. To view the majority of articles and books I already have, I would have to go through a difficult conversion process that is not guaranteed to preserve the neatness of the originals. In addition, while the Kindle 2 has a search function, there is no option for skipping ahead by more than one page at a time. And what really sealed the deal for me: the Kindle deals with locations, rather than pages, such that a 400 page book might have thousands of locations. This, in my mind, would make navigating a book extremely difficult, and it would prevent me from ever referencing books in essays or articles (imagine referencing location number than page number!). The Kindle 2 meets the next two criteria – it has a clear screen and the ability to highlight text and take notes. The Kindle also has free internet access, a built-in dictionary, wikipedia access, and other nice features – all extremely big pluses. But since it does not live up to the other criteria, it is doubtful that these features are worth it. As for price, the Kindle is $359, not including the case and extended warranty. I’d be spending nearly 500 bucks to get all I want, but there’s still the chance the Kindle I order will be defective. An initial big plus for me with the Kindle was the Kindle store. Many of the books I would want to buy are available on Amazon and at a very cheap price. However, many of these books are probably in Topaz format, so this is not much of an advantage after all.

Sony PRS-700
. The Sony, unlike the Kindle, has native PDF support. This is a big plus. The Sony also has the ability to skip ahead by ten pages at a time and skip to page numbers rather than locations. On top of that, it has a touch screen, backlight (who cares?), and the ability to highlight text and take notes. The perfect product? Almost! The touch screen and backlight are double-edged swords: they take away from the screen clarity. With the number of reviewers recommending the 505 to the 700 because of the difference in screen clarity, I could not bring myself to buy it.

Sony PRS-505. It has native PDF support, a clear screen, the ability to skip ahead by ten pages at a time and to jump to specific page numbers. Basically, it is the 700 without a touch screen, but with more clarity and readability. Price? A local store was selling the 505 for 250 bucks including the case and AC adapter. That’s a huge advantage. Also, take a look at the above criteria: it meets five out of six. This is the ereader for me.

So, yes, I went with the PRS-505. It gave me the most of what I wanted without spending a lot of money.

Initial impressions. I didn’t expect it, but I like the navigation and interface of the Sony-505. It feels very intuitive. It’s easy to find a page I’m looking for: type in the number and hit enter. I like how it has two page turning buttons, on the left and right side. Particularly, the design of the left-hand page turning button is good for landscape mode. While I was hoping to get note-taking features in my ereader, I don’t miss it so much. I can use the bookmark function to mark pages I want to remember in the future, and since the pages are smaller than with an actual book, it’s usually easy to find the text I’m looking for.

As for readability, the screen is excellent. While most PDFs I’ve tried so far look great, a few get truncated when viewed on the reader. Converting to RTF sometimes fixes this problem, but that can be a hassle and it removes images. In terms of viewing books, one of the biggest problems with the 505 is viewing scans. Scanned PDFs are very difficult to read, and landscape mode doesn’t help much. This might be due to the particular scans I tried, and I don’t know how to better edit them. One more disadvantage is that there is no way to organize books by subject or anything like that: they're all listed together; however, I believe it is the same for most ereaders. Finally, when I often have to check a single file more than once before I'm happy with it, plugging and unplugging the chord can be annoying; it would be easier if it was wireless.

Another note. Calibre is amazing in combination with the Sony. I can setup all my favorite blogs and it sends the posts to my reader automatically. Except for one or two, the majority of the blogs I've tried so far look excellent. It's almost like navigating the internet.

Overall, I like the 505. I had a hard time deciding, but ultimately I had to ask what I was going to use an ereader for. As I said above, my primary concern was to comfortably view articles, blog posts, and PDF files with ease. I decided the Sony-505 would help me reach these goals more than the other readers, so I had to forget about the extra "toys" that come with the Kindle 2 and Sony-700. Though I must still convert some files for maximal readability, it is still far easier than what I would have to go through with a Kindle 2. My biggest regret is losing out on the Kindle store, but like I said most of the books I would want would probably come in Topaz format.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. This isn’t a very good review, but I didn’t spend much time on it. Maybe I’ll write a better one later.

Last edited by enarchay; 05-30-2009 at 02:30 AM.
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Old 05-30-2009, 02:26 AM   #2
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One more disadvantage is that there is no way to organize books by subject or anything like that: they're all listed together; however, I believe it is the same for most ereaders.
Yes, there is a way to organize, and it's danged easy. If you're using the Sony software, create a collection in the software, then drop the books in the collection you want. If you're using Calibre, use Tags on each file to do the same. So, if you've got a bunch of philosophy texts, tag them all as Philosophy. On the reader, go to Collections, choose Philosophy, and Bob's your uncle.
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Old 05-30-2009, 02:31 AM   #3
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I'm glad you were able to make your decision. I have the 505 and really love it... Remember, you can get library books also...

I was too slow and Renaldo was able to help you with the organization... I hope you continue to enjoy your new "toy".
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Old 05-30-2009, 02:32 AM   #4
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Yes, there is a way to organize, and it's danged easy. If you're using the Sony software, create a collection in the software, then drop the books in the collection you want. If you're using Calibre, use Tags on each file to do the same. So, if you've got a bunch of philosophy texts, tag them all as Philosophy. On the reader, go to Collections, choose Philosophy, and Bob's your uncle.
Oh, yeah. However, the books will still all be grouped together in "view by title" for example. Not a big problem, but when I'm searching through "view by title" it's a bit annoying to see blog posts and stuff when they're already stored as collections.
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Old 05-30-2009, 02:33 AM   #5
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I'm glad you were able to make your decision. I have the 505 and really love it... Remember, you can get library books also...
My library is crap though!

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I hope you continue to enjoy your new "toy".
That's what she said. (She's a lesbian.)
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Old 05-30-2009, 06:36 AM   #6
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Glad you made your decision and you're happy with it. It seems you already know a ton more than me about the 505 as I've only used it for reading.....one of these days I'll venture. ;-)
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Old 05-30-2009, 03:00 PM   #7
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Oh, yeah. However, the books will still all be grouped together in "view by title" for example. Not a big problem, but when I'm searching through "view by title" it's a bit annoying to see blog posts and stuff when they're already stored as collections.
I see what you mean. Yeah, putting something in a collection doesn't take it out of the view title/author views. I think you'll find that as you use it, and organize everything into collections, you'll rarely go into those options unless you can't find something where you thought you put it.
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Old 05-30-2009, 10:21 PM   #8
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Books in collections also seem to be sorted by entry date, not by title. It's a little bit annoying, but still easier to look through 25 out-of-order books in a collections, rather than 500 books in the main menu (if I don't already know the book's author or name sort).
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