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Old 03-07-2010, 04:32 AM   #1
jjonas
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Review from the point of heavy underlining

Hi, I've now used my PRS-600 for a few months, and I think I'm ready to make some comments on the device. I hope it will be useful for others who have the same kind of needs as I do.

I use the PRS-600 to read long texts I've found on the internet, mainly old political texts that have fallen into the public domain, such as can be found at Marxists.org, Anarchy Archives etc. The idea for buying the reader came from trying to save money on not having to buy old books that are both in the public domain and available in a digitalised form on the internet, and I figured the reader will pay itself back (255€) pretty quickly. The book that made the decision to buy the reader was G.M. Stekloff's 'The History of the First International' from the 20s that would have cost around 40€ on Abebooks, and nearly $100 on Amazon. At the same time it was freely available at Marxists.org.

I convert the plain text (i.e. no pictures, graphs etc.) into suitable-sized PDFs myself, and make heavy use of the underlining function. So I haven't used (nor do I plan to use) the device for reading actual eBooks, or "official" PDFs that are copy-protected to a smaller or greater degree. I've never used Sony's program, nor bought anything online for the reader.

My self-made PDFs vary from 50 pages to 1500 pages in lenght, and the underlining function is always on while I read. The longer the text, the slower the page-turning after having made underlinings on the current page seems to be. I don't know why, but often when turning the page just underlined, the following page comes up and then "refreshes" (or blinks) one more time. I don't know why this is, it doesn't come always, and I haven't tried to find out the actual cause systematically. But it's slightly annoying, as is the slow speed of page turning with longer texts. Not a deal-breaker though.

Even with texts as short as 300 pages, the screen reacts pretty slow to the stylus, and often I have underlined 2-3 rows before the screen actually starts drawing the visible line. Not a major problem, but annoying nevertheless. It's always slower when you first start underlining a fresh page, and if you underline the same page several times, the ones beyond the first are a bit faster.

Even though the actual underlining works ok, the whole device would be nearly useless if cedricp had not made the annot.py program (see this thread) for exporting the marking to a jarnal package, which can then be exported to PDF. That way I can page through my underlined texts in order to go through the salient points - something that would be extremely cumbersome on the PRS-600 because it would be so slow. Also with long texts the search function (and not just paging through the text) is no good - I tried it once on a 850-page text, and never tried it again.

Once I tried reading a copy-protected PDF, and annot.py exported the markings well, but not the actual text, so the jarnal exported PDF had only the underlinings but no text --> it's useless trying to read "official" PDFs (if you want to underline them and come back to them the way I do), and it's good I didn't buy the device for this purpose.

For the purpose I bought the reader it surely could be better, but as it is, it's good enough. Being able to underline and export the whole thing to my computer where I can then come back to it when I need to find the salient points is the one big thing I was looking for, and thanks to cedricp's program I can do this.

I wish it was faster with underlining and page-turning, because frankly now the look and feel of it is like the old Mac from the early 1990s I once used. So not very flattering.
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Old 03-07-2010, 04:46 AM   #2
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Have you tried underlining with any other file format than PDF files?

I ask this be because I personally find PDF files to be the slowest file format on my e-ink devices. I am wondering if you would find epub files quicker.
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Old 03-07-2010, 05:01 AM   #3
HarryT
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I do a lot of annotation on ePub files. The speed is just fine.
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Old 03-12-2010, 02:46 PM   #4
jjonas
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Thanks for your suggestions! However, when I converted a 77 page PDF into ePub with Calibre (default settings) and tried it on the reader, the speed seems to be the same as with the PDFs earlier.
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