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Old 02-11-2010, 04:27 AM   #1
Rojofo
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Smile Advice for newbie please! Sony PRS505, Astak EZ reader, Hanlin V3, Cybook/Elonex 660e

Firstly I would like to thank those who have set up and maintain this very helpful site and those who give their time and experience to help newbies like me. Mobile read has helped me to clarify my ideas about buying my first ebook reader.

I would now appreciate any advice to help me make my decision. I am thinking about buying either a Sony PR505, a BeBook (which I take to be a European version of the Astak EZ reader) or an Elonex 660 or similar fairly basic readers.

I would like to explain how I have narrowed down to these models but would appreciate more experienced users helping me, perhaps by explaining that I have not properly understood the qualities of these devices. In fact I have only actually seen the Sony but have never used it and have only seen photos and videos of the others. I have no "hands on" experience of a reader at all, and my ideas may be quite wrong.

1. My budget is fairly restricted, about US $200 (i.e. 150 euros or British pounds, approximately). Consequently, I will probably need to buy second hand and to look for a bargain!

2. I prefer a 6-inch screen since, having no experience, I may find the page-turning black flash unpleasant (there seem to be very different individual reactions to this) and there should be fewer page turns with a bigger page. I am well aware that this choice poses a big problem for my budget!

3. I will only be using this reader for downloading freely available classics (prose and poetry, with the proper format for lines of poetry). So I don't need compatibility with complex DRM formats. Similarly I don't need and can't afford Wi-Fi or wireless connexions. I am happy to use a USB connexion to my computer.

4. I am a Mac user and I think the Astak/Bebook pose no problem for the formats I want, but there seem to be some issues with the Sony PRS505.

5. The crispness of the screen is important for me and the Sony PRS505 seems less crisp than others. Experienced opinions on comparisons on this question would be very useful for me!!

6. I am probably wrong on this, but it seems that the Sony has only ugly fonts (Ariel, Helvetica type "sans serif", which I detest, or Courier) whereas the others allow more choice. I actually prefer more elegant and legible fonts like Mac Palatino or, even more luxuriously, Bernhard Modern! This question is rarely mentioned on the forum. It this because fonts are easily changed, even on the Sony? I really need more information on this question.

7. The Sony is very easily available second hand, while the others are harder to come by, at least in France where I live, so it would have my preference it the screen problems (crispness and availability of more legible fonts) were not significant. Aesthetically the Astak appeals to me more with its nice covers, but that is a very individual question.

Without wishing to overcomplicate (!!), I should say that the small Sony PRS300 would probably suit me, if I had more experience of the page-turning problem with small pages!

Once again thanks for your patience any advice on these or other readers. Rojofo.
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:43 AM   #2
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http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:48 AM   #3
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Thank you for taking the trouble to reply Cole, but I suppose I should have said that I have studied this Wiki (which is extremely useful) and the other very complete site quoted recently here, as well as reading a good many posts on this site. The basic "objective" information I am already aware of.
My questions about fonts and screen appearance, crispness of letters etc. are not dealt with in the Wiki. I would appreciate more "subjective" information on the screen appearance of the readers I mentioned and more information about fonts.
Is the rather mediocre appearance of the Sony screen performance due to the poor quality of the photos I have seen? But then why do the photos of BeBook and others seem so very much better?
Thank you (in advance) for more advice on this! Rojofo.
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Old 02-11-2010, 11:18 AM   #4
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The Astak and BeBook 6" devices are both Hanlin V3s, and both can use exactly the same firmware (i.e. they are identical, except for the name on the front). A big advantage of the Hanlin V3 is that it can run OpenInkPot (has its own forum here), which is perfect for your reading preferences, and there is also enhanced versions of the standard firmware available. I own both a 5" and a 6" EZ Reader, and I use the 6" with OpenInkPot every day. It is a great reader, if you can get one for a good price. The Hanlins come with several fonts, but using the standard firmware changing the fonts for ePub is a bit harder than on the Sony (see below). It can be done though, by adding a couple of lines of CSS to each ebook. OpenInkPot uses FBReader, which allows user provided fonts.

On the other hand, I am surprised that you think the PRS-505 screen is substandard. The PRS-500 had a relatively poor pre-Vizplex screen, but the PRS-505 was the first Vizplex device. I have not seen a large difference between Vizplex screens (which all come from the same production line), but the PRS-505 has the reputation of being the best EInk screen around. Perhaps it is the fonts. These can be changed, see two of the sticky threads in Reader PRS-505 Dev Corner, one for ePubs and one for LRF/RTF fonts. Overall, if you can get a better deal on a used PRS-505 it will likely meet your needs.
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Old 02-11-2010, 12:17 PM   #5
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Wallcraft, thank you for this very helpful post.
The reason I have a bad impression of the Sony505 is that the photos I have seen show fairly gross, badly defined characters while the photos of the Hanlins seem very crisp and defined. This may partly due to the native fonts but, not being well informed I was not sure. I am aware that this impression may well be wrong which is why I posted my question.

May I ask you for your impressions of the differences between the 5" Hanlin and the 6" which you apparently prefer. The price difference would make me prefer the 5" version but I suspect the pages are too small, resulting in constant page changing. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you once again for taking the time to reply. Rojofo.
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Old 02-11-2010, 12:21 PM   #6
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I agree with wallcraft that a 505 would probably suit you well. I've used both it and the Astak/BeBook 5" reader and find their screens to be comparable. The 505 is a bit slower at opening books, reformatting for different font sizes, etc., but once you're reading it works very well.

I'd stay away from the Sony 300. It has the same size screen and same price as the Astak/BeBook, but a slower processor, no SD card slot, no case, and the list goes on. You get a lot more for the same price with the Astak/BeBook.
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Old 02-11-2010, 12:31 PM   #7
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The 5" Hanlin is better looking than the 6" and has updated hardware. The standard firmware is virtually identical to the 6". See Review of Hanlin V5 for V3 owners for a more details (note that Hanlins now have more font sizes, up to 9, so my comments about the available sizes is out of date).

I use the 6" because it can run OpenInkPot, which has not been ported to the 5" Hanlin. There is a trade off between screen size and number of page turns, but this is only a large factor if you expect to use a large font size. I use a relatively large size, and found myself reading in landscape mode on the V5.

If you are buying new, the 5" Hanlin is the best value for money. Possibly a bit more expensive than the PRS-300, but with more capabilities. I assume if you are buying used there will be more 6" Hanlin V3's available than the relatively new V5.
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:02 AM   #8
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Thank you Polly and Wallcraft again for very helpful advice. You seem to be saying that my impressions of fuzzy fonts on the SonyPRS505 are not justified. Having spent some time looking at photos on the web, I have found some with better definition on the Sony. I suspect that the problem is that the fonts on the Sony PRS505 are limited (only 3, apparently) and there are few sizes as well.
I imagine that the replacement that you suggest, Wallcraft, might improve the font display. Your remarks about Openinkpot make me want a Hanlin even more, but they are very hard to come by in Europe at anything like reasonable prices.
One more question on this: my impression is that the Sony PRS505 has wide margins on the text, thus displaying fewer words than the Hanlin for the same size font. Is this true?
Any other remarks or sharing of experiences on the display and fonts would interest me.
Thank you once again, Rojofo.
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Old 02-12-2010, 02:21 PM   #9
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If you use Calibre to format your books, you can control both the font and the margins before you send them to the reader. It might take a bit of work, but once you find the size and appearance you like, you can use them for everything.
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Old 02-12-2010, 07:25 PM   #10
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This is interesting news Polly. I'm beginning to see that the Sony PRS505 is not as bad as I had imagined! I have read that there are problems formatting books on Calibre on a Mac with the software on the PRS505. Can I actually use Mac fonts (I like Bernhard Modern !) in Calibre and have them on the Sony PRS505 without going through the process of modifying the software of the Sony? Thank you once again for taking the time to reply. These replies have helped me a lot and I am now looking on Ebay! Rojofo.
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