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Old 09-07-2009, 09:33 AM   #1
EricGagne
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Can't choose which one - Need help.

Hello,

I want to get an ereader but I can't figure out which one I should buy. I'm a bit confused with formats and although there is converters available I'm not sure it's if it's a good idea or not to buy a reader that doesn't natively support the format I'll be reading.

Although I'm posting this in English to get more answers I'm a French speaking person from Canada and I read books in frech. This seems to limit my choices of ebook stores to Mobipocket and Numilog.fr since Sony doesn't sell french books.

I've narrowed my choice down to BeBook, Cybook Gen 3 or wait a few weeks and buy one of the new Sony's.

Cybook: I may be able to get one almost new (only 3 months old) for 225$CAD, a new one would cost me 400$CAD but I see a lot, and I really mean a LOT, of posts here about frozen Cybooks, broken screens and recurrent freezing issues so now I'm not so sure I want one although the price is appealing. Is it really that bad ?

BeBook: Seems like a nice reader and like the Cybook it has native support for Mobi. I'm a bit hesitant though because it's not sold in North-America and I don't really like buying hardware from Europe because it makes it complicated after to have it serviced in case of a problem.

Sony: I like that it's sold in Canada and I know having it repaired if necessary won't be a problem. However it doesn't support Mobi format which is important for me. That's where the whole conversion thing comes into play. Can I easily and efficiently convert purchased mobi files (DRM) to ePub and then load them into a Sony reader. Would I loose any of the features or the original mobi file or on the quality of the fonts ?

And if converting works well, would it be a smart move to buy an older version of the Sony like the 505 ?
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Old 09-07-2009, 09:52 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by EricGagne View Post
Hello,

I want to get an ereader but I can't figure out which one I should buy. I'm a bit confused with formats and although there is converters available I'm not sure it's if it's a good idea or not to buy a reader that doesn't natively support the format I'll be reading.

Although I'm posting this in English to get more answers I'm a French speaking person from Canada and I read books in frech. This seems to limit my choices of ebook stores to Mobipocket and Numilog.fr since Sony doesn't sell french books.

I've narrowed my choice down to BeBook, Cybook Gen 3 or wait a few weeks and buy one of the new Sony's.

Cybook: I may be able to get one almost new (only 3 months old) for 225$CAD, a new one would cost me 400$CAD but I see a lot, and I really mean a LOT, of posts here about frozen Cybooks, broken screens and recurrent freezing issues so now I'm not so sure I want one although the price is appealing. Is it really that bad ?

BeBook: Seems like a nice reader and like the Cybook it has native support for Mobi. I'm a bit hesitant though because it's not sold in North-America and I don't really like buying hardware from Europe because it makes it complicated after to have it serviced in case of a problem.

Sony: I like that it's sold in Canada and I know having it repaired if necessary won't be a problem. However it doesn't support Mobi format which is important for me. That's where the whole conversion thing comes into play. Can I easily and efficiently convert purchased mobi files (DRM) to ePub and then load them into a Sony reader. Would I loose any of the features or the original mobi file or on the quality of the fonts ?

And if converting works well, would it be a smart move to buy an older version of the Sony like the 505 ?
BeBook is an OEM product. The "original engine" is Hanlin V3. For you, in North America, Astak's EZ Reader, another "clone" of Hanlin V3, probably would make most sense.

Mopickpocket easily can be stripped from DRM and converted to Sony. Either to Sony's proprietary BBeB format or ePUB, which Sony natively handles as well.

Check out the ePUB format. It's widely spread, you should easily be able to find most of the books in French for ePUB.
Sony is doing ePUB natively, most of the other readers in the meantime as well.
Personally, I still rank Sony 505 one of my alltime favorites.

Concerning Cybook Gen3: There are 2 firmware versions. 1 supporting DRMed Mobipocket, 1 supporting DRMed ePUB.
It's a nice unit, but personally I prefer Sony 505: More elegant design, Sony being major player in the eBook market, Sony's webshop isn't bad either.

In general, you're right: It's preferable, having native support on your reader for the formats of your choice. Stripping DRM and converting is quite time consuming and sometimes the results need some tweaking and tuning.
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Old 09-07-2009, 11:04 AM   #3
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I'm not sure that all the Hanlin clones can read protected Mobi files. The only 2 that are listed as supported devices on Mobipocket.com are the Hanlin and the BeBook.

I check Astak's web site and the EZReader's specs say non-DRM Prc. I don't think it would read my purchased books.
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Old 09-07-2009, 12:19 PM   #4
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I'm not sure that all the Hanlin clones can read protected Mobi files. The only 2 that are listed as supported devices on Mobipocket.com are the Hanlin and the BeBook.

I check Astak's web site and the EZReader's specs say non-DRM Prc. I don't think it would read my purchased books.
BeBook is dropping Mobipocket DRM support and going with ADE ePub/PDF instead, just lile the other Hanlin/Jinke clones. Make sure you can still get the old firmware before you get one.

I think you can still get the older Mobi DRM firmware from Astak's site, not sure about BeBook or other Hanlin resellers.
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Old 09-07-2009, 12:40 PM   #5
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So first lets address the DRM issue. Whichever mobipocket device you buy will have a unique serial number. Any files that you currently have downloaded will not be coded to that serial number and will not be readable on a new device.

Instead, you will need to go back to your original source/store and input the new device number and redownload the books. So the first issue is you won't be able to access the books unless you can also access the original store and your account that you bought them on. If for some reason you can not access the original store/account you will either lose access to the books, or you must remove the copy protection if that is legal where you live.

In regards to reading protected .mobi your choice has become quite limited among e-ink devices. The Cybook is the only one that I am currently sure supports it. I know that the Hanlin V5 did, but I'm not so sure anymore. Mobipocket (Amazon) has a new rule that devices are not allowed to read both protected Mobipocket format and other protected formats. As a result, most companies have chosen to support only one protected format and support for protected MP is disappearing. You should still be able to read protected MP on you desktop PC and on any platform (smartphones) that can install the mobipocket mobile reader.

On to the specific devices you mentioned. Breaking screens are a problem with all of them, not just the Bookeen. These things are lightweight and we tend to treat them to casually. They get fumbled, dropped, and otherwise mishandled. In terms of fragility think of them like a laptop. A laptop can and should last for years. However, you are probably pretty careful about caring for yours. That's fine advice since I've broken one (uh, maybe two ) myself.

I personally am not a fan of the Cybook. It was one of the earliest e-ink devices available and I owned one. If my choice was the Cybook or nothing I would gladly choose the Cybook. However, today I think there are other devices that work better. I know that there are others here that still love their Cybooks, so these may be fighting words . Then again, that may leave you without a way to access your protected content. If you are not able to strip DRM; if you have a large investment in protected files; and if you are willing to put up with slow startup times and occasional (daily?) restarts then this may be your only choice. As I said earlier, if the Cybook was my only choice I would go for it.

If you are legally allowed to remove DRM in Canada and are willing to do so, then format is no longer a barrier. It is no harder to shift formats than it is to remove DRM.

The Sony would require a format shift. From all reports it is a fine device -- I don't have one.

Right now, I am partial to the Astak EZreader Pocket Pro. It is a smaller (5") device that I feel will combine portability and usefulness. It is also fairly feature-rich. However, I suspect that you need to be comfortable with risk if you choose this item. Only a few people have these in hand yet, and we don't have a full set of reports yet. A couple of people are concerned about the time it takes to turn a page. Its not clear what is going on here yet since everyone isn't reporting this. Even if it's slow I think it will be acceptable for me. The pocket pro is also among the cheapest units at $199 from Astak.

So, either take the plunge and purchase Astak, wait a few weeks to hear more reports, or go with the Sony. Frankly, the Sony may be the best choice. It is a solid unit with a good reputation from a name brand company. If protected mobipocket is a must-have go Cybook if you are willing to live with its bugs.
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Old 09-07-2009, 12:59 PM   #6
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All EInk devices that used to support DRMed (encrypted) MOBI are switching to DRMed Adobe ePub. Of these, iRex and Jinke (Hanlin V3, BeBook, EZ Reader Basic, ....) will continue to make the old MOBI firmware available but they won't update it. Only Bookeen has said that they will equally support ePub and MOBI in "separate but equal" firmwares. This is good for consumers in theory, but Bookeen is incredibly slow about releasing firmware updates - so having two to support can't be good.

The new firmware for Hanlin's supports DRMed Adobe ePub but also DRM-free MOBI. Note that the Hanlin V5 never supported MOBI DRM, only the V3 has DRMed MOBI using older firmware.

I'm not sure this has made you choice any clearer, except that if you want MOBI then Bookeen is probably the best choice. It is sold by Books on Board with shipping to Canada and, I think, a US warentee.
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Old 09-07-2009, 01:51 PM   #7
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I never thought choosing an eReader could get so complicated. Printed books are much simpler, you can read them anywhere you want regardless of where you bought them.

It looks like the mobi format is slowly dying. Since I don't have a big investment yet in ebooks it would probably be a big mistake for me to stick to this format although some books I wanted to buy aren't available in other formats. I wouldn't want to end up a year from now with a 400$+ obsolete device that I can only forget about and have to replace.

Cybook wouldn't be my first choice, the only reason I even considered it is because of this used one at 225$ but I'm not sure anymore that it would be a good move.

What I understand from all this is that if choose a reader that doesn't support DRM Mobi files then I either need one that does non-drm prc and I can remove the protection from my files or have a device that doesn't support them at all in which case I need to remove the protection and convert them. From what I gather converting files can be a tedious and frustrating operation and I'm not sure I want to get into this.

I think this narrows my choice down to 2 devices, Astak or Sony. At 300$ the Astak would cost me 325$CAD + Shipping + Duty. For that same price I can get a PRS-505 today at Future Shop or wait until Sept. 16 and get one of the new models.

At worse I can always use my PDA to read my protected mobi files if I don't succeed in converting them.
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Old 09-07-2009, 01:55 PM   #8
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From what I gather converting files can be a tedious and frustrating operation and I'm not sure I want to get into this.
Not at all. If you can get the DRM removed converting is pretty simple. For Mobi you'd just drag the book into Calibre and select the output format (likely ePub) and click convert. Usually after 30 seconds of so you'll have it converted.
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Old 09-07-2009, 02:08 PM   #9
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So it's the DRM that is hard to deal with ? I read things about MobeDeDRM and people seem to have a hard time getting this to work.
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Old 09-07-2009, 02:20 PM   #10
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So it's the DRM that is hard to deal with ? I read things about MobeDeDRM and people seem to have a hard time getting this to work.
If you look in the comments to the Dark Reverser Weblog you might come across a packaged version that is easier to use. Even the command-line version isn't that hard to use if you are persistent. The trick is to understand how the command line works, which isn't obvious at first.
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Old 09-07-2009, 02:27 PM   #11
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So it's the DRM that is hard to deal with ? I read things about MobeDeDRM and people seem to have a hard time getting this to work.
Depends on how comfortable you are using the command line. If you're comfortable with that it's really not hard at all. Also there is a compiled version floating around that actually prompts you for the info you need to enter.
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Old 09-07-2009, 02:40 PM   #12
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I'm a 20+ years I.T professional. I actually prefer command line even with Windows, I find it easier and faster to move/copy/delete files and folders.

I just don't to spend too much time on it, when I get home after work now I only want to be a user, not and I.T expert but if I can find the right files somewhere I'll obviously try it.

What I've downloaded so far doesn't seem to work but I'll look around................when I come back from the store. In a few minutes I'll be on my way to buy a PRS-505
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Old 09-07-2009, 02:43 PM   #13
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I think this narrows my choice down to 2 devices, Astak or Sony. At 300$ the Astak would cost me 325$CAD + Shipping + Duty. For that same price I can get a PRS-505 today at Future Shop or wait until Sept. 16 and get one of the new models.
Agreed that converting isn't that big a deal. Calibre makes it easy.

However, I want to make sure my earlier advice didn't mislead you. If you are looking at the $300 Astak ($259 at www.theezreader.com) then you are looking at the 6" version. IMHO, that device has nothing substantive over the Sony, and I'd probably lean towards the Sony line. The device that I like and I'd recommend is the PocketPro ($199). It is a year newer device than the other EZ Reader, and it is the one I am getting. The only reason not to prefer this one is because of its 5" screen. Your priorities may well be different, but my decision factors would be: cheaper, more portable go Ez Reader 5"; larger screen, less price sensitive go Sony.

Finally, on Sony it looks like the 600 has a really interesting feature set with touch screen and annotations. The tough issue is the screen clarity. Some feel that the touch screen makes it a bit less clear. The 505 is a year old model that has fewer features, but seems to be rock solid and quite a few folks prefer the sharpness of its screen.
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Old 09-07-2009, 03:13 PM   #14
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Unfortunately I can't get it today because it's Labor Day and the stores are closed in Quebec

I'm gonna have to wait until tomorrow but I've decided to go with the Sony. I don't really have a need for the touch version so I don't need to wait for the new models.

Thanks for the help everyone, now I'm gonna try to remove DRM in some of my files.
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Old 09-07-2009, 03:27 PM   #15
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Sears Canada is selling the 505 for 259.99.
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