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Old 09-29-2006, 01:07 PM   #16
NatCh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mori
...it would still be nice to get some _objective_ news about it, otherwise I'll just go read some Sony propaganda
Fair warning. <rant>

Allright, see, now that offends me.

I was there in San Diego too, and I can tell you that to the best of my recollection, and observations, nothing Bob has said about the Reader or its function was in any way innaccurate or slanted.

And no, I don't work for Sony either.

A little background on me -- my first major in college was journalism. A good chunk of the reason I left it was because I was sick of being around all those would be "reporters" who were really out to be editorialists, who couldn't give a straight statement about something they had an opinion on to save their lives.

The things he and I have said about the experience are our opinions, clearly framed as such.

I, and I believe Bob too, have both been as straight as we knew how to be about both the good and the bad things we saw. Is it our fault that Sony seems to have gotten more right than wrong with this device? Should we make up bad stuff just to preserve an inaccurate perception of "balance?"

I refuse to do such a thing. Just like I won't make up good stuff either. Period.

I don't own an iLiad, but I have seen one of the devices, and got to spend about 30~45 minutes with it. Something I repeatedly referred to in my own write-up specifically to give a feel for how they compared. Paul Meows now has both devices in his possesion, I hope he'll be sharing some longer-term experiences than I was able to collect. I look forward to seeing them.

I care a lot more for this community than for any product, and I feel an obligation to be as accurate and objective as I can even when I'm trying to be persuasive -- and I'm not even an Editor like Bob is. Further, I can assure you I was not in persuasive mode when writing up my review.

It's up to you. If you want to discount everything we say as slanted just because we found that Sony did a good job, that's your perogative. Yes a lot of that perception is unavoidably subjective, but we put a whole lot of effort into giving you as full an account of what that perception was based on so that you could decide for yourself if those things were important to you. We didn't just say, "oh what a wonderful product!" We told you specifically, in great detail, what we liked and didn't like about it. If that doesn't qualify as objective, then I don't know what would.

Okay, deep breath. </rant>

@mariodrss: you mentioned that the price seeme about $50-100 too high to you ... does the $50 credit with the Connect Store offset that any in your opinion? I don't figure it ought to be worth a full $50 worth of consideration, as you'd mostly spend it on DRM'd BBeB books (unless you can use it on accessories too, hmmm), but I was curious if it made any difference to you.

You also mentioned circumventing the DRM -- you don't have to circumvent the DRM to run your own content, just use RTF, PDF, TXT....


@pdam: I think what Bob was trying to say is that the experience of reading on the Reader is such that folks won't mind adding it to their reading tools, won't insist on always reading paper, that is.
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Old 09-29-2006, 01:14 PM   #17
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They should use the same niche market Apple used two decades ago: university. Very jesuitic.
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Old 09-29-2006, 02:04 PM   #18
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My 2 cents

I've been following the advent of this new reader off-line for a little while.

I'm very excited about the new eInk readers and have been ever since I'd heard about the new technology some years ago.

My main attraction is being able to get technical documents which are unavailble in paper form. Without the reader, I must either rely on a monitor or print it out. Both options are not attractive to me. The addition of being able to put copyrighted and public domain books on the reader is a real bonus for me.

Many of the so-called "Experts" who poo-poo the lack of backlight are unaware of the fact that reflected light is much easier on the eyes than direct light. I for one do NOT want a back light, my eyes are poor and need all the help they can get.

thanks for reading so far!
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Old 09-29-2006, 02:15 PM   #19
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I did not expect Sony to run out of Readers so soon, and for so long. ISTR that some high suit in Sony US said they were planning to be the iPod of ebooks, with a similar market share. And now they can only start with 130 Readers? Sony, Sony, Sony. You can get ahead of your rivals in the ebook market, but you don't have enough units. There's the XBOX 360 from last year, the Wii will be here soon, and you get your PS3 out the last, and the more expensive one, and with nowhere near enough units. You clearly like to shoot yourself in the foot. And now you don't let non-US residents buy your Reader. Don't tell me it's copyright restrictions, because that's the ebooks, not the hardware itself.

I have been putting my reading for months, and just can't take it any longer. I have just placed a €150 order in Amazon UK; 1 DVD (Jim Henson pack) and a whole lotta pbooks. That's money Sony ain't seeing from me, because it looks like they will not let me buy ebooks from their Connect Store, as I am a filthy foreigner.

Don't get me wrong, I will buy the Reader sooner rather than later, one way or the other, but buying ebooks would be just too difficult from over here. What shall I do? I will buy the pbooks (more dead trees) and get the ebooks versions by my own means. If that's illegal, I don't care. I have paid for them, so I will bloody well read them wherever I wanna. And you can bite my shiny-- Well, you get the picture.

I would rather have a cheap ebook renting/subscription service (inspired in a little thing called "Library"), than pay for a book I will likely only read once. That's the $1 book rlauzon so heartily mentions. When I want to own a book, then I can pay as much as 50% the value of the pbook, but that's all. It's not only paper cost we're cutting down here: there's printing, distributing, middle man, etc. The current ebook model is simply stupid, and I am not biting the bait.

So, to sum up. Yes, the Reader looks perfect to me (if there's backlighting, there's eye stress, so no backlighting thanks), apart from the fact that they won't let me buy one. No, I don't care about DRM'ed ebooks.

And please don't say editorialists are not objective. There's news, and there's editorials. Editorials are someone's opinion. They are not biased, they just have an opinion. So kudos to Bob and the rest of the editorialists (including NatCh) for all the hard work.
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Old 09-29-2006, 02:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big_stan
(...)

Will the Sony Reader be the new iPod or Nomad for the eBook world? Or will it be another Newton, to far ahead of it's time to catch on?

(...)
Hmm... someone said Newton? :-D

IMHO there is not much chaces that any e-item for reading book will win a real mainstream following, if with mainstream one mean non-tech reader. This have nothing to do with the quality of the ereader technology, but is something related to a mild form of feticism of the mainstream pbook reader. As we geek take pride in our gadgets, almost any non tech pbook reader I spoke, even recognizing the pratical value of the ebooks, said that s/he will never change the physical experience of using a pbook: the smell and the feeling of the paper, and so on.

Obviously I have only a very partial statistic: I'm in Italy, not exactly the spear head of new consumer tech adoption... ;-)

About the eInk vs LCD issue, I read from eReader by almost 12 years: I started with my first Newton (a Sharp ExpertPad...), passed trough the Newton MP 100/110/120/130/2000/2100, the RocketBook (still have it perfectly functioning, first model out... :-) and now use mainly a Clié nx80v for .txt and .pdb files and a iPaq 5450 for .lit stuff. I plan to excanghe the Clié for a Tungsten T3, but I will avoid for now any eink reader. Is not a question of prices: even if the ILiad price is crazy in my opinion, the Sony Reader is almost there. The point is that at the age of 45 a reader without the backlighting is useless for me.
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Old 09-29-2006, 02:40 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordvetinari2
And please don't say editorialists are not objective. There's news, and there's editorials. Editorials are someone's opinion. They are not biased, they just have an opinion. So kudos to Bob and the rest of the editorialists (including NatCh) for all the hard work.
Yes, but there's a huge difference between and editorialist giving his opinion in an editorial, and a nominal reporter giving his opinion and billing it as news.

I agree that there's nothing wrong with editorializing (and didn't mean to suggest otherwise ). But there is something wrong with trying to pretend that editorializing is reporting, it's inherently dishonest.

A review necessarily includes some subjective stuff, as it's trying to put the facts in a graspable context, but it shouldn't be all subjective.
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:54 PM   #22
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Thanks everyone for all the support and encouragement. I appreciate it.

Now on to the business at hand... as your devices start showing up, don't forget to tell us if you think the Sony Reader is going to be a hit or a dud!
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:59 PM   #23
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"I feel like the Sony Reader is a good compromise (compared to the Illiad which is its only real competitor at the moment), much like the iPod was."

Certainly people don't need perfect to make a product successful, they just need "good enough", which is a horribly subjective judgement. For what I want, the iPod is good enough; for some music purchases the iTunes store, DRM and all, is good enough. Obviously rlauzon would disagree with the judgement.

Paper media will not be replaced, it will be supplemented, in the same way that radio didn't destroy movies, television didn't destroy radio, cable didn't destroy television, et al.

However, and this is a big however, the iPod can be successfully used by any consumer without ever buying a single track from the iTunes store. To use the Sony Reader that is going to be a lot harder, particularly without any native html support.

I'd also like to point out that in spite Apple's ridiculous market share with the iPod, there are competing products from other manufacturers that consumers can choose from, and if you are ripping your own CDs you can easily make those files compatible with all those other devices...except Sony's original DMP But what have the early adopters already complained about? No LIT, Palm, MobiPocket, whatever support. And what happens in four years when Sony decides to abandon the Reader because it wants to focus on core profitable markets? You won't be copying those BeB files to your Iliad, that's for sure.

This is not a market that already exists begging for product. This is a market that is going to have to be created and carefully nurtured over a long period of time, but manufacturers just don't seem to have that kind of patience anymore. Maybe the Reader will be the next iPod, maybe it will be the next MiniDisc. It is too early to tell.
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Old 09-29-2006, 05:02 PM   #24
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thanks bob (but...)

Bob, thanks for your amazing coverage of the Sony Reader.

I share your general optimism.

For me personally, I can't say if I "need" the Sony Reader. I already have ebookwise and fbreader on 770, and although I agree it's a great step forward, I have to wonder whether there is better ebook software out there to be matched with suitable hardware. I'm inclined to want to wait until the open source community build some nice tools for content creation before I upgrade.

Also I was surprised to hear that navigation is not through touchscreen but buttons. Ah, shucks!

Wouldn't it be nice if a firmware flash could provide better native support for other formats?

I remain flabbergasted that jinke and Amazon haven't announced dates for their own hardware devices to come out. Buying an ebook reader is like buying a car. You don't do it every year, so if you can hold off for a few months until the TNBT (the next big thing) comes out, sometimes that can pay dividends. Are the Amazon or jinke devices coming out by Christmas? It would be nice to get a clearer idea.

Iffy RSS support is a major limitation for me. (although I haven't heard that either amazon or jinke is offering that either)

I vote for Bob to take the trip to Tianjin to preview the V2

rj
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Old 09-29-2006, 05:19 PM   #25
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Amazon hasn't officially admitted working on a reader at all. Engadget snaked that out of the FCC files.

I doubt they'll be out any time soon.

Jinke doesn't seem to be saying much of anything lately.
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Old 09-29-2006, 05:40 PM   #26
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I too don't understand the problem regarding back lighting. After staring at a computer screen for 8 hours every day the last thing I want is yet another active display. If the existing lamps have been doing a fine job for pBooks then they'll provide fine light for eBooks as well. What is the big deal????

HTML and unlimited RSS support will be added at some point; they'd be crazy not to do it. The reader may not be suitable for general web surfing. However there is a lot of static web content that the reader can display just fine. I am sure it is just a matter of figuring out how to handle dynamic content (animated GIFs, Flash, applets, etc.)

Actually the major problem I have is the power supply. I am surprised that no one seems to be bothered by batteries which are sealed inside and cannot be replaced (easily)!?!?!? LiIon battery lifespan is based on a combination of time and usage. Even if a battery is charged/maintained properly and never used it would still fail after 10ish years (well it is hard to say exactly). That means that Sony Reader has an upper lifespan limit of about 10 years. Perhaps it may continue to function with a cable, but clearly the main utility is in the cable-less mode powered by battery.

Perhaps by the someone will come up with instructions on how to open the reader and replace the battery (similar to the current Palms), but it will be tricky and expensive. Spending $350 for a device that will be used for 20-30 years is much easier to justify than for one which will last no more than 10 years.

Therefore, I will purchase V2 or V3 when it comes with the usual AA batteries compartment that enables easy replacement of batteries as they become too old. I would also prefer a much greater builtin memory capacity as I'd like to load a larger book collection.

Oh, and here is another reason why Sony Reader will be successful.

Sony Reader with an expansion card can manage say 1-2K books. Calculate the amount of money spent on book shelves plus the amount of time and effort to assemble/install book shelves plus the amount of space wasted for storage of those 1-2K books. I am guessing the total will be at least $350, maybe more.

Now consider the easy and convenience of locating and displaying a book from this collection using the reader as opposed to finding it on a book shelf. Also consider the convenience of carrying the collection with you to cottage, summer vacation, even a commute to work, as opposed to locating, pulling out of shelves and carrying around pBooks.

This can be construed as a biased perspective. Nevertheless, it is a perfectly valid and frequently occuring scenario. There will be times when I'll pick up 1-2 small paperbacks and take them to the beach instead of the reader. Sure. Still more often I'd prefer to have the collection readily available most of the time.

I'll be patient for Sony to fix the bugs and will purchase one thereafter.
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Old 09-29-2006, 05:51 PM   #27
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@Bob Russell: don't forget to tell us if you think the Sony Reader is going to be a hit or a dud!

I think it will be more successfull then previous generation of eReaders. It will get more interest and publicity, and hopefully will make more people aware of the eBooks in general.

I think Sony needs to release Letter/A4 sized model for techie ppl, just because most of the current PDFs are formatted to that size. Reflowing is not 100% solution, untill tagged PDFs created properly. Some rudementary search functionality is also needed. Could be priced at $499 level.

The eReaders functionality, imho, should still be very limited to keep battery life and weight/size under control. For advanced features there are always tablets and laptops.

What Sony can do with current model is to add Unicode support, improve CONNECT software for eazier RSS/HTML conversion, add more formats (like CHM for example).

Personally, I don't think backlighting is needed. But all future eReaders should come with warning that reading under bad lighting conditions will ruin ones eyesight. May be even have light level sensor built in to warn that there is not enough ambient light

Something along those lines
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Old 09-29-2006, 05:56 PM   #28
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Fictionwise sell DRM eBooks and seeing as how they still exist and still sell those, people must be buying them.
I wrote Fictionwise once and asked why a series of ebooks was not available all in Microsoft Reader LIT Format? Book 1 was MSReader, Book 2 was Adobe DRM and Book 3 was MSReader.

Their reply was that they sold whatever the publisher gave them, even if it didn't seem to make sense.

Don't sell some of the ebooks the publisher gave you and you could expect the publisher to stop sending you titles.

Such is the power of the publishers.
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Old 09-29-2006, 06:06 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slava
Personally, I don't think backlighting is needed. But all future eReaders should come with warning that reading under bad lighting conditions will ruin ones eyesight. May be even have light level sensor built in to warn that there is not enough ambient light
Amen! Those "what, no backlight!?" comments just kill me.
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Old 09-29-2006, 06:13 PM   #30
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Me too :-) Always seems such a pointless comment.
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