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Old 02-01-2010, 12:19 PM   #1
yunti
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Thinking of buying a sony 900 daily edition - some key questions

I've been weighing up buying a new ebook reader either the sony 900 or the Irex 800S. I've pretty much decided against the 800S as it's very expensive vs the 900 and yet again Irex hasn't developed the software properly (I previously had an Iliad which was atrocious.)

Before I purchase I had a couple of questions:

1- Dictionary - Can I install different ones or is it the inbuilt one only?
2- Dictionary lookup - can I look up from Pdf's and epub's
3- Is there any log of dictionay lookups etc (so I can refer back to them)
4- annotate, can I annotate on both pdf's and epub;s
5- Does it do reflow/font change size on both pdf/epub
6- Can I zoom (and keep the same level of zoom for that book) on epub/pdf?
7- Crop border - does this work well - or is it a bit flaky?
8- How accurate is the annotation - easy to make notes or more a scrawl?
9-Is the glare of the screen an issue?
10- Saving annotations - is there any limitation on this? Do I just save a new pdf epub with annotations or are they saved as a layer to the existing file?

Thanks for your help
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:30 PM   #2
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I'll answer the one I'm most informed about, lol, #9. You really should check out the screen at a retail location (or coffee shop if you spot one of us) under your intended lighting conditions. There is no way someone can decide for you. It is indeed reflective and can be annoying or awkward (tilting to avoid) under some lighting conditions. It is acceptible, to me, but not ideal.

Oh, and I know the dictionary works in Epubs because I used that last night. Wicked-fast look-up too.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yunti View Post
I've been weighing up buying a new ebook reader either the sony 900 or the Irex 800S. I've pretty much decided against the 800S as it's very expensive vs the 900 and yet again Irex hasn't developed the software properly (I previously had an Iliad which was atrocious.)

Before I purchase I had a couple of questions:

1- Dictionary - Can I install different ones or is it the inbuilt one only?
2- Dictionary lookup - can I look up from Pdf's and epub's
3- Is there any log of dictionay lookups etc (so I can refer back to them)
4- annotate, can I annotate on both pdf's and epub;s
5- Does it do reflow/font change size on both pdf/epub
6- Can I zoom (and keep the same level of zoom for that book) on epub/pdf?
7- Crop border - does this work well - or is it a bit flaky?
8- How accurate is the annotation - easy to make notes or more a scrawl?
9-Is the glare of the screen an issue?
10- Saving annotations - is there any limitation on this? Do I just save a new pdf epub with annotations or are they saved as a layer to the existing file?

Thanks for your help
  1. The built-in is all you can use, but there are two, not one
  2. Yes, both work
  3. Not that I know of
  4. Yes, can create on both
  5. Yes, on both
  6. As far as I can tell you can't keep the zoom — you zoom, you look but it goes away after you try to turn the page.
  7. I would say it depends a lot on the way your epub is formatted, seems to differ from one title to another.
  8. You can get used to it Much easier with the stylus than a fingernail.
  9. It can be, but can usually be resolved quickly.
  10. Haven't created that many. They're saved automatically when you create them. I'm not sure what exactly you're asking with respect to the layer s I don't think they ever become part of the book.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:02 PM   #4
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8. I just made some notes on mine for the first time and it's better than I thought. Use a stylus for sure! It takes a split second for the annotations to show up because of the e-ink having to refresh. But it's pretty good. It's hard to make long-winded comments because writing tiny letters would not work, but you can mark anywhere an everywhere on screen.

9. I think you def. need a book light handy. I'm getting my Sony 900 cover+light combo from the Sony store tomorrow, so I'll post what I think of it then...

10. It saves the notes with the page. So if you close the book and open it back up, the notes you made will show up on the page you made it. You can also open up a list that shows the pages you made notes and bookmarks on. If you make notes at the medium font size, but then switch to the large font size for reading, it will not show the notes, but will show a squiggle icon indicating there are notes at the particular spot in the text. You would have to switch to the medium font size to view the notes. So I guess you should generally pick a comfortable font size as you start reading a book and stick with it.
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Old 02-02-2010, 12:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yunti View Post
1- Dictionary - Can I install different ones or is it the inbuilt one only?
2- Dictionary lookup - can I look up from Pdf's and epub's
3- Is there any log of dictionay lookups etc (so I can refer back to them)
4- annotate, can I annotate on both pdf's and epub;s
5- Does it do reflow/font change size on both pdf/epub
6- Can I zoom (and keep the same level of zoom for that book) on epub/pdf?
7- Crop border - does this work well - or is it a bit flaky?
8- How accurate is the annotation - easy to make notes or more a scrawl?
9-Is the glare of the screen an issue?
10- Saving annotations - is there any limitation on this? Do I just save a new pdf epub with annotations or are they saved as a layer to the existing file?
1. As dmapr said above, it's only set up to use the in built ones. There are, however, two options: The New Oxford American Dictionary (which they have as the default) and the Oxford Dictionary of English (a slightly larger, although more anglo-prone, dictionary. Sadly, not the OED itself). I have mine set on the Oxford Dictionary of English and have found that to be quite fun.

2. dmapr covered this one, so I'll move on.

3. The machine itself doesn't keep a log of dictionary lookups, however it does log all words that you highlight, and simply clicking on those words again will pull up the dictionary definition.

4 & 5. dmapr covered these, so I'll move on.

6. It depends on what precisely you mean by zoom. The reader will let you change the text size up to XL, and remember that between pages, however changing the text size results in reflowing the text, which can lose some pdf formatting (for instance, I never use this on Hatcher's Algebraic Topology). It will also switch orientation to landscape (which results in a zoom) and let you remove margins (which again results in a bit of a zoom), and remember this between page turns. Personally, I find this perfectly sufficient for my pdfs, particularly with addition of the ability to smart zone over any figure that's too small. This real zoom (the one where you tell it to make a specific section of the page larger) is not kept between pages, but I personally prefer that to keeping the zoom.

7. As I mentioned above, I've found the remove margins feature to work quite well in general. There are a couple pdfs that is has left a bit of a margin on, but I think those pdfs have *something* in the margin somewhere along the way which is causing the reader to not want remove that area.

8. The annotations feature works quite well. The only thing I have against it is that there isn't a good way of sorting your annotations (ie, I'd love to be able to see all the annotations I made on books in my "math" collection at once, and not have them mixed in with the annotation on the books in my "wooster and jeeves" collection). As long as you know that you want to look at your annotations on a particular book (which is probably how you'll usually use it), they work quite well.

As for making the annotations yourself, it's definitely quite simple. The thing to remember is that you don't need to wait for the e-ink screen to show that it's read what your writing--you can write on it faster than it will display, but it will remember everything you did. I also quite like the ability to annotate two pages at once in the "2-page view".

9. At first I found the glare to be more of an issue than I do now. It's something that you get used to be very quickly, and takes no thought to hold the reader so that you don't get the reflection at this point. I followed the advice of my friend who got her sony before me, and just spent a day reading around the house. After the day navigating the prs-900 and holding it so that it doesn't reflect became second nature.

10. Others have covered this well already.

Hope these answers were useful to you. I definitely love my prs-900, and would recommend it to anyone in the US market.
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Old 02-02-2010, 05:48 AM   #6
yunti
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dmapr, erasure 25, jissa thanks for your detailed responses they are a great help. It seems that sony have pretty much sorted the key features so that they work as one would expect.

Last couple of things:

a)- are there any issues/software limitations I should be aware of (silly things that don't work but which one would expect to?)
b)- I'm UK based, is there any word on a europe/UK release date - if not I might just have to buy the US version
c) and lastly extended functionality which isn't as important- anyway to have RSS readers etc (that sync with your pc etc in the morning) - or any other useful extended feature that you like using?

Thanks
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jissa View Post
7. As I mentioned above, I've found the remove margins feature to work quite well in general. There are a couple pdfs that is has left a bit of a margin on, but I think those pdfs have *something* in the margin somewhere along the way which is causing the reader to not want remove that area.
I learned a lot from your answers to yunti's questions, very useful.

Another question related with question 7: Does margin crop work on scanned PDF?
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Another question related with question 7: Does margin crop work on scanned PDF?
I actually have tried this only once. In that occassion, the prs-900 did not remove more than maybe a centimeter on either side. But this was not a terribly well scanned pdf--I suspect that the prs-900 will thrown off anytime there are flecks in the margin, which will make it now work very well on scanned pdf's.

You'd better off using a tool to edit of the margins yourself, and then sending the pdf over.


Quote:
a)- are there any issues/software limitations I should be aware of (silly things that don't work but which one would expect to?)
b)- I'm UK based, is there any word on a europe/UK release date - if not I might just have to buy the US version
c) and lastly extended functionality which isn't as important- anyway to have RSS readers etc (that sync with your pc etc in the morning) - or any other useful extended feature that you like using?
a) The most annoying software limitation for me is the fact that it sorts your books by the author's first name by default. You can set the author sort tags all you want, but the 900 refuses to read them. Since I don't know of a program that which will batch edit my author tags to the be the same as my author-sort tags, I've ending up just leaving this be. As you can search within the reader for books by a given author, or use your collections to view books, this isn't a huge issue, but it bugs me a decent amount. Who goes to a book store and looks under C to find Connie Willis?

The sony reader software itself isn't the software I'd recommend using with the reader, but rather Calibre. Using Calibre covers most of the things that bug me about the sony software (no way to batch convert things in the sony software, etc), but sadly doesn't have any way to automatically sync between your reader and your computer. I understand Kovid is working on adding this to Calibre, so I can probably take this off my list of random small things that bug me soon, but for right now, no sync.

b) I have absolutely no idea on this one--does google say anything? I would note that the 3g capabilities of the reader (and thus the ability to have your reader automatically give you the NYT each morning) will not work in Europe. If the European release date isn't too far in the future it's probably worth waiting for, for the increased support, 3g, etc.

c) It definitely works quite well as an RSS reader--if you use Calibre you can set it to download ebook versions of various RSS feeds daily and transfer them to your ereader automatically when it's connected to the computer. I use this to get xkcd, phd comics, the ny review of books, and the onion on here. It's definitely wonderful to have.

I also really like it's ability to display images by themselves--this allows you to send scanned comics to the reader, and they look gorgeous on the reader.

The collections feature is something which is undersold about the sonys but is really quite nice. It's great to be able look at all of my math books all at once without having to search for them at all, same for my collection of "fluff".
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:39 AM   #9
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I just got my 900 yesterday and I'd say one thing about the glare. I went to the Sony store to check out the reader (as you've been told to do) and they'd set up the lights in such a way that I didn't notice the glare in the store. Now that I have it at home, I do indeed notice it. A lot. Distracting! I'm well aware that this is something that one may adapt to and I'll see how it goes. Still, I am considering returning it. Another thing I don't like so much is that the dictionary definitions are somewhat brief. Finally, it would be nice to be able to change font sizes in smaller increments.

HOWEVER: Everything else about the reader I really like so far. It's elegant: I like the built-in cover. It's great to have SD card slot. The genre sort for books is nice. The PDF stuff works fairly well (which is important to me). The touchscreen is good (although it takes a few hours to get used to it). You have access to loads of bookstores and the format is open. Although I have also been able to buy Kindle books, convert them, and put them on my PRS ;-)

As a final note on the screen. I have to admit that one selling point of e-paper ought to be the glare-free paper-like screen. This reader simply doesn't have that. But then again, looking on the market there's nothing else with this feature set in a small package. Even if you choose to go larger with a Kindle DX, this doesn't re-size PDFs...
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:14 PM   #10
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made my own thread about my question rather than hijack this thread :-)

Last edited by Kiasmama; 02-02-2010 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 05:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yunti View Post
dmapr, erasure 25, jissa thanks for your detailed responses they are a great help. It seems that sony have pretty much sorted the key features so that they work as one would expect.

Last couple of things:

a)- are there any issues/software limitations I should be aware of (silly things that don't work but which one would expect to?)
b)- I'm UK based, is there any word on a europe/UK release date - if not I might just have to buy the US version
c) and lastly extended functionality which isn't as important- anyway to have RSS readers etc (that sync with your pc etc in the morning) - or any other useful extended feature that you like using?

Thanks
On the software limitations:
it's not very configurable - you can't change what's on the home screen for example, or change the "Store/Apps" tabs etc.
it doesn't recognise folders, and "collections" are a bit clunky
the mp3 player is next to useless (even more useless than I thought it would be having heard it was useless)

On UK purchase:
I did this, from B&H photo in New York. They were fine, but be aware that the total cost including postage and customs is likely to come to around £350.

On extra functions:
Not much out of the box, but calibre allows you to download news, convert to ePub and put it on the reader, so you can get the Guardian, for example

Where it's strong is in reading books. When reading a well-formatted book, I soon forget the reader and get on with reading.
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Old 02-07-2010, 05:05 AM   #12
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Thanks for the extra info. I saw a prs-600 and prs-300 in store today (900 not available in the uk). The prs-600 was shockingly bad. Almost unusable as an e-reader. The contrast was so poor there isn't much point over LCD. The prs-300 however, was great; sharp and easy to read.

Is the prs-900 display as poor as the 600 or is it more like the 300?
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Old 02-07-2010, 11:36 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by yunti View Post
Thanks for the extra info. I saw a prs-600 and prs-300 in store today (900 not available in the uk). The prs-600 was shockingly bad. Almost unusable as an e-reader. The contrast was so poor there isn't much point over LCD. The prs-300 however, was great; sharp and easy to read.

Is the prs-900 display as poor as the 600 or is it more like the 300?
The prs 900 screen is in between prs 300 and rs 600. I also had bad reaction when I started comparing prs 300, 600 and 900. There seemed to be much glare on prs 600 and 900. However, now that I've had prs 900 for a few days, it is very readable and works well. During good sunlight, it can look like paper.
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:01 PM   #14
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My 900 is noticeably better, higher contrast, than my coworker's 600 (as I noted in another thread). Both have considerably more screen glare and less contrast than my 505.
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