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Old 12-08-2009, 01:54 PM   #1
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My Sony Reader Purchasing Adventure

Recently, I purchased 2 Sony PRS-600 readers online for a slight discount: one for my wife and one for myself. Now I had been reading about the Sony readers for months and had made 2 visits to look at displays of the device to verify the screen/reflections were not going to be an issue for me. After seeing the device in person on both occasions, I believed the screen issues to be very minor and not a real issue for me at all so I went ahead and placed my order. I really wanted the touchscreen and was anticipating some of the extra features it offered. I do a bit of writing, so I was especially looking forward to using the device for editing my work.

The order arrive four days ago and I eagerly opened the box and set the units on the USB charger and waited. Once charged, I powered up one of the units, sat down on the couch, and was greeted by a nice color reflection of my face starring back at me. Hmmmm... I thought, I had not seen any such reflection in the store and the difference was quite dramatic. I began wondering if the units in the store were even using the same screen.

Well, I started to do some experimenting and soon discovered the key was all about the level of light on the screen. The brighter the surrounding light, the better the screen looked. With enough light, the reflections all but disappeared--explaining my experience in the stores. At first it seemed like I would just need to keep the unit well lit. The only problem was, many of the places I would be using the reader would not be very bright. I had purchased the Sony lighted cover for it, and quickly determined that was not enough light for me. I tried reading by a lamp and though I could usually find a position that minimized the screen reflection, it would often return as I moved about or caught a secondary light source. I also noticed I had to concentrate a bit on the screen to ignore reflections which led to a small amount of eye strain. It wasn't major, but I suspected it would probably shorten my reading sessions that were in any but the best light. Still, I was determined to somehow make it work.

My wife soon tried hers and immediately commented about how much seeing the reflections (especially of her face) bothered her. She had not been interested in any of the extra touch features I was, and so she regretted not having gotten the 300. I explained about tilting the screen but that was not very satisfying to her. I had recommended the 600 for her because of the faster processor and dictionary which I thought she might like.

We both used them on and off for another day or so. I tested the unit in bed, all a round the house and anywhere else I could think of and struggled with deciding if I could be happy for the long term with the 600.

My wife soon decided she wanted to return hers for the 300. I decided we should go check one out at the store one last time and try to test the reflectivity as best we could (as they had seemed similar to me in the store and I wanted to be sure this time). So we stood at the display and once again I was struck with how the 600 looked great in the bright store light. So, unafraid of looking like a doofus, I knelt down in front of the 600, held up my hands in a way to block as much overhead light as possible and out popped the reflection of my face. I had basically achieved similar light conditions to what I have at home. I then tried the same test on the 300. I was pleasantly surprised to see only shadows. The slight reflections I saw on it looked insignificant to me. My wife took the simpler approach and just held a finger in front of both screens. On the 600, there was a colored reflection of her finger. On the 300, only a gentle shadow that did not affect readability at all.

At that moment it struck me that while the extra features of the 600 were nice, I was buying an eBook reader to read books. I travel a lot and had become quite tired of 20% of my luggage weight being books =). The only reading I will be doing in the future will be on a reader so I realized it had better do that one job really well. To do that, I knew the screen quality had to be my paramount concern on a reader. I knew then that we both had to return our 600's--even though we faced a total of $100 in restocking fees (including the no longer useful cases). So then came the quandary. I liked the metal body and build of the Sony devices, but as I looked at the 300 there in the store, I really wanted a full six inch screen. So what was my answer? I thought about what others had said about the 505--a legendary screen and a full six inches. I knew I needed to somehow find one. So began the adventure...

I began checking the Internet and quickly realized there were no reasonably priced new ones to be had online. The few places on the Amazon that showed them were all over $300. We boxed up our 600's to ship back and set out on a quest to find any remaining 505's in our city. What followed was nearly 9 hour bustle of calling and running around (can't always trust the clerks to know about some leftover units hiding in the back =). This went on until at about 8pm, (What an amazingly patient wife I have!) when a Fry's some distance away I had called said they had 2 blue 505's in hand. I said hold them and that I was on my way. The store was over an hour away through a cold, rainy drive but I was eventually checking out with 2 brand new 505's in my hand. It was pretty late when we finally got home and plugged them in to charge.

I stayed up pretty late last night until it was done charging and then powered it up. The screen was a joy to behold. I didn't even have to turn on a side light to read the screen easily. Yes, there was a slight reflection of my face there in the low light, but it was very minor and I only noticed it because I was looking for it. I soon launched Calibre (Kudos for this amazing program) and uploaded a few books to my device. The next thing I knew, I was 30 pages into reading the Hobbit and had completely lost myself in the story. So I was finally able to go to bed knowing I had made the right choice. The 505's even came with a leather case which made my restocking fee more palatable since I would not have to replace the returned cases. I have a couple of Energizer book lights that clip onto the leather case and light the screen beautifully--even in complete darkness--so I'll stick with that.

Now I am not saying the 600 is not a perfectly usable machine for many--especially with its many nice features. I would however suggest that someone looking to buy one try to see one in less that ideal lighting before making the decision. I for one was surprised at the difference it made. So, enough rambling. It's time to go do some reading...

Last edited by danwdoo; 12-08-2009 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:44 PM   #2
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That was a well-written adventure, danwdoo. I enjoyed reading it. I never understood why Sony decided to stop making their most popular ebook reader. It's a good compromise between the 300 and 600.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:59 PM   #3
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Thanks for the story Makes me glad I got the Kindle (dictionary and notetaking) over the Sony 600.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:00 PM   #4
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I really am thinking that readers and screens are a very personal choice. Definitely try before you buy if you can. I lurked on the site for months debating about features and upcoming models. I picked up a 600 yesterday at a local Target, charged it, loaded it with some books and laid in bed and read for a hour comfortably. I'm even looking at it now in a room lit only by the dim daylight reflected off snow coming through the window and the screen is perfect.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:09 PM   #5
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I'm glad some enjoyed my trials =)

Scottjl,
I agree. Many would probably be happy with the 600. Much of my hopes is that some will take the lighting into consideration (which I failed to do) when looking at the store displays in order to make the best decision for them. In the end, I'm just happy to have a way to read my books--especially on the road!
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:27 PM   #6
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i hear you there. i spend my life on the road as well. but you know, the lighting conditions in your house are not going to match what you find out on the road, in airports, planes, hotels, etc. i won't get a chance to test mine out and about until after the new year. home for the holidays!
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:43 PM   #7
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As with any E-ink screen, the brighter the lighting conditions, the better the readability of the screen. I had moved from the 505 to the 600 and my 600 definitely needed different lighting than what I used for my 505.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:18 PM   #8
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the brighter the better ... NOT ... remember the problem that some sony reader (like mine) got when flooded with sunlight!
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:58 PM   #9
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Aye, lighting is very important with the 600. In my house I have no trouble whatsever finding a good spot - in fact, when I first charged it up, loaded a book and started reading it was two hours later when my partner got home that I realised I was still reading (and hadn't prepared dinner, much to her dismay ). Yet in certain lecture halls with big TL lights far above the reflection becomes a bother - so much so in fact that I often tilt the screen a bit to write instead of laying it flat in front of me.

Still, even with reading by little more than the illumination provided by the light-case' tiny leds I have no reflection or problems - it's definately concentrated lightsources that are an issue for me. I use the touchscreen extensively so it's well worth the price, but for others this might vary
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:40 PM   #10
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Oh wow, that's too funny! I looked at 2 blue 505's at the Fry's in N Dallas last weekend for $209!

I thought about it long and hard, but didn't bite. I have a 300 and love it so much I thought to get a 505 or 600. Maybe next generation......

I'm glad you found what you wanted and they don't end up on feebay, like all the lighted 505 covers from Target!! (I saw 4 at one Target for $16 last Sunday and they were all gone on Monday. They had been there a while too!)
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:47 PM   #11
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I can now confirm those two blue 505's are in good and appreciative hands =). Now I know who to thank for letting them go!
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:37 PM   #12
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You know, many Texas libraries will give you a library card if you have a Texas drivers license. You don't have to live in the area.

I drove to Houston one weekend to get a card because they have one of the best Overdrive collections in the state. Over 2500 books in pdf/epub format.
Roadtrip....... well worth the drive!!
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:00 PM   #13
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That is good to know. My City uses overdrive only for audio books and netlibrary for ebooks which seems to offer only online editions of non-fiction works--though that may be the only thing my library signed up for. I was just in Houston a few weeks back, but it may well be worth another road trip!
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:44 AM   #14
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Fantastic story Danwdoo. I am serously considering PRS600 vs PRS505. Unfortunately due to "geographic challanges" I can't go to a brick-and-mortar store that sells e-readers and make an informed decision.

At the moment toss-up is between:
PRS-505: (+)Screen quality (-)Speed
PRS-600 (+)Speed (-)Screen Reflection

I read indoors a lot and my Irex Iliad works well in most light conditions. I did see a 600 the other day outdoors, and I must say the reflection was pretty bad. I did not however put it though paces myself.

Maybe I'll just bite the bullet, buy a 600 and return it if it doesn't work out.

Thanks a lot Danwdoo!
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danwdoo View Post
I can now confirm those two blue 505's are in good and appreciative hands =). Now I know who to thank for letting them go!
Quite an adventure indeed! Glad you were able to get something better. I LOVE my 505! I have the blue too. I also have the lightwedge, but sort of regret buying that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by retro View Post
You know, many Texas libraries will give you a library card if you have a Texas drivers license. You don't have to live in the area.

I drove to Houston one weekend to get a card because they have one of the best Overdrive collections in the state. Over 2500 books in pdf/epub format.
Roadtrip....... well worth the drive!!
I did this too. I live in California, but one day this past summer, I went to 4 or 5 libraries in the San Francisco area. I most frequently check books out from the San Francisco library.


And I go to overdrive.com all the time and check which libraries have which books using the digital library locator.
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