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Old 10-06-2006, 11:27 AM   #1
da_jane
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Manga mini review

I'll post a few pictures later tonight, but Ned, my DH, used the Reader for 15 minutes last night to read the first chapter of the Death Note scanlation. He's read it before on a tablet pc and was very disappointed in the rendering.

He said that half the pleasure of reading Manga is the artwork and with the 4 color grayscale you simply do not get the nuances that you have with the computer pngs that are done in color and in black and white. I think the reduced size doesn't help. He thought having to read the scanlation in landscape mode with just half the picture was worthless and he bemoaned the lack of a backlight.

I am not a Manga fan but the DH is and said he wouldn't be using the Reader and told me to keep it only if <i>I</i> enjoyed it because he wouldn't use it. I couldn't get him to play with it for more than 15 minutes. I will also add one more note about reading in landscape mode. When reading in LM, the page turning buttons are on the top and it is really inconvenient to turn the pages. You essentially have to hold the reader with the left hand at a 90 degree angle from your right hand.
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Old 10-06-2006, 11:41 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by da_jane
When reading in LM, the page turning buttons are on the top and it is really inconvenient to turn the pages. You essentially have to hold the reader with the left hand at a 90 degree angle from your right hand.
Or ... you could use the other, large, round, silver page turning button that is at the upper, left corner when in landscape mode (lower left in portait).

So, Jane, what did you think of it for reading text?
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Old 10-06-2006, 12:06 PM   #3
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Ah hah. lol.

For reading text, in the bright sunlight, the e ink is breathtaking. I was reading it as I was walking to my car yesterday and the display was wonderful. The brighter the ambient light, the better looking the screen. So if I did a lot of outside reading, then it would be a remarkable device. But last night as I was reading, I eventually gave up the Sony Reader and picked up my IPAQ. I'll be using it more this upcoming week and then do a full review next sunday at my blog because I want to give myself time to decide whether this is a worthwhile alternative.
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Old 10-06-2006, 12:11 PM   #4
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Knew you'd take that as it was meant.

I'm looking forward to reading your impressions!
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Old 10-06-2006, 12:53 PM   #5
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I've been using the reader for manga myself also, but I found it to be very capable. My procedure for prepping manga for the reader thus far has been thus:

Use Photoshop's Automate Batch to trim all the images (have to record a trim -> save -> close action first), getting rid of the white (or black) borders that manga tends to have. Then I use bimp to auto shrink the images to 600 x 800 (well restrict width and height, I am not actualy changing the proportions) and to convert the images to PNG format. Afterwards I use Adobe Acrobats "Create PDF from Multiple Files" feature to create the volume as a PDF.

The result has been perfectly legible for most of the series I have tried to do this with, and while there is about a 1.5s delay for a page turn, it's quite satisfactory for manga. Since most series are in greyscale anyway, I haven't found the 4 color limit to get in my way too much. Not yet at least. My main annoyance has been the flat file system, which keeps me from filling the reader up with manga.
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:01 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info Kaitou... we're all desperately craving tips on how to prepare documents for the Sony Reader. Pretty soon we'll have to figure out a way to collect the best tips together in the wiki.

One question... does it look good even for color manga, or just for those that are originally black and white?
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:09 PM   #7
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The color isn't as good, what tends to work better is to use that same photoshop batch to convert the color images into the palette for the reader, generaly all the manga I've read is black and white besides the covers, and I tend to remove those anyway.

However, the color ones that I've converted originaly were decent, but the legibility was a bit off, since there wasn't as much contrast between the text color and the background.
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:26 PM   #8
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Kaitou - It certainly is legible. It's that the detail of the artwork in the Manga is not very legible. In the black and white, because there isn't sufficient contrast, you don't get enough detail. In the Harlequin Manga book I purchased, I am having a slight legibility problem. Some of the letters are hard to read because the contrast is bare. I.e. the "u" on the word "you" is kind of disappearing.
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Old 10-06-2006, 02:01 PM   #9
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Has anyone found an optimial resolution to resize JPEG->PDF images to such that it will take up the whole width of the screen in landscape mode? If I resize an image to 800x1200 (assuming 800x600 rotated 90 degrees and having 2 panes), I find that it will still shrink down the image and only use up about 75% or so of the width. I also tried 800x1000 and see the same effect where it's resizing the PDFs anyways. This happens in both fit page and fit visible mode when in landscape. Any ideas?

Thanks,
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Old 10-06-2006, 03:07 PM   #10
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I was going to start a new thread, but you guys beat me to it. So I will just cut and paste what I was going to write into here.

I have mixed feelings about how well the Reader handles the format. Overall, I am happy with it. However, it is far from perfect at this point, so take that into account before making any kind of purchase decision.

The readability quality appears to vary from title to title. Really light colored brush strokes / pencil lines somewhat disappear and are barely visible. This appears to be a general problem with the reader as viewing several digital camera shots from my last vacation in Japan pictures of white clothing or white colors the object appears to lose definition and gets somewhat lost into the background. Dark heavy lines and brush strokes show up really well, and this is the optimal way to view pictures on the device.

There appears to be 2 main ways most people will be reading Manga on the reader.
1. Store bought ebook book formatted Manga.
2. Viewing self obtained titles in .jpg format.
There is also a 3rd option of converting a series of sequential .jpg’s into a .pdf but early reports so far have been that the resulting image quality is pretty poor, so for right now at least this is probably not a great option.

1. Ebook formatted Manga for the reader:
Ironically for me, the sample Manga that comes packed in with the Reader (Peach Fuzz) has been the poorest on general readability. While the image on Peach Fuzz is extremely clean, it has a lot of light brush strokes that completely disappear against the background. Some of the text is also incredibly small and it was hard for me to read in standard vertical mode. Switching the size from S, M, L, had little effect as the image appears to be locked into a specific aspect ratio and it will only let you zoom to the point of the image filling to the screen borders, not beyond. Small text legibility such as liner notes or sound effects translations can be quite difficult to read without proper eye squinting.

Reading in Landscape mode however is pretty nice, as the image is a lot larger and thus the text readability is quite a bit better. At this point each page is split into two halves (top and bottom) and you scroll through the two halves either via the joystick or the page button. However, even with the increased image size, the light brush strokes still get lost into the background, and I was also getting some “stair stepping” on diagonal lines.

Page refresh time hovers around 2 seconds, which is in line with standard books.

I have not bought any additional Manga from the connect store so I cannot speak for the other titles. I am curious however whether it is an issue specific with this title, whether it is an issue with the Manga ebook format, or whether it is an issue specific to Tokyo Pop and how they are converting their titles.

2. Viewing Manga as sequential .jpg’s:
Reading Manga as raw pictures on the Reader has some advantages and some serious disadvantages. First off, I was having none of the readability problems with scanned .jpgs and I tried a variety of different content. All of the content appeared perfectly readable in S size in standard Vertical mode. The zooming of various levels also lets you get pretty close to the pictures so you can pick out the fine details. And at least with the titles I was viewing, the image frames itself right to the screen borders and views really well in Landscape mode using the L size.

However, organization of .jpg’s is really poor. With the reader’s flat file structure there is no way to organize any of your pictures. You cannot create subfolders, and every picture just gets dumped into the same root directory. So if you have a large collection of several hundred pictures, navigating between the different titles can be confusing and difficult. While the reader will remember the last picture you left off at when you turn off the unit, there is absolutely no way to bookmark pictures, so if you decide to jump to a different title or read a standard text book, you will have to manually remember where you left off at.

Navigation of zoomed pictures is also fairly cumbersome. In standard vertical format, M and L zoom levels cut the picture on all 4 sides so you will have to use the joystick to scroll around the various parts of the page. Every time you scroll, the page refreshes. so this is an option you probably will not want to maintain for every page. In L size Landscape mode the image is framed on the left and right sides and you only have to scroll down the page, which is cut into approximately 3 sections. In theory L size Landscape mode makes for some pretty good reading. However, as soon as you turn a page in Landscape mode, the panel section remains where it was on the previous page. For example, if you are on the bottom panel section and turn the page, the picture is on the bottom panel of the new page. So you have to manually scroll up to the top panel of each page every time you turn the page.

Page refresh times of standard .jpg file sizes take approximately 3 seconds to fully refresh which is not bad. However high quality images of over a meg can take upwards of 15 seconds, which is completely unusable. So if at all possible try to make sure your picture file sizes hover around 300k.

Please take into account I have only had my reader for less than a week. A month from now my views and opinions on this matter might change completely. I am hopeful a lot of the issues will work themselves out over time either through firmware updates, the community coming up with workarounds, or companies learning to format better for this device. So I am convinced things will only get better from here.
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Old 10-06-2006, 06:14 PM   #11
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I haven't actually looked at any of the manga that was created for the reader, so I can't comment on them. The png/jpg manga that I converted myself into pdf files seems to work well and refreshes much faster then simple jpg's do on the card (plus you get the benefit of bookmarks, and the reader remembers your location).

I have yet to try resizing images for landscape as opposed to portrait viewing, but I can see if there is anything that I can come up with for that.
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Old 10-06-2006, 06:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by da_jane
For reading text, in the bright sunlight, the e ink is breathtaking. I was reading it as I was walking to my car yesterday and the display was wonderful. The brighter the ambient light, the better looking the screen. So if I did a lot of outside reading, then it would be a remarkable device. But last night as I was reading, I eventually gave up the Sony Reader and picked up my IPAQ...
Being an IPAQ reader myself, I feel your pain. I was one of the people who claimed I would not miss the backlight very much. I was wrong. I'm still hoping that I can get a good clip on light or something but right now I find myself wanting to pull out my IPAQ when reading in bed. It's more than just the night time thing. I'm so used to backlight that it felt very funny to have to angle the reader to catch the most rays from my beside light. I'm used to being able to read equally well in any position. I hope that lightwedge thingie comes out because I'll be an early adopter on that as well.

Figures the thing would come out just as it's getting too cold to read outside in NJ. That's a huge part of why I wanted to switch to e-ink - I love sitting outside by the pool or at the beach with a good book.
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Old 10-06-2006, 06:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaitou Ace
The png/jpg manga that I converted myself into pdf files seems to work well and refreshes much faster then simple jpg's do on the card (plus you get the benefit of bookmarks, and the reader remembers your location).
That sounds intriguing, I might have to invest in a copy of Adobe Acrobat. I only have the free reader version of it.
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:08 PM   #14
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Being an IPAQ reader myself, I feel your pain.
I wonder if the division between backlight lovers and those who couldn't care less comes from prior reading experience?

I know that before the reader, although I had been a big proponent of the *promise* of ebooks, I didn't read any on handheld devices. I found all the devices far too limited and waited for a single-purpose reading device. So I read paper books in bed, and those have no backlight.

But it sounds like the people who miss a backlight are used to having them on other devices...
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Curry Udon
That sounds intriguing, I might have to invest in a copy of Adobe Acrobat. I only have the free reader version of it.
You might want to try some of the free PDF generator packages before shelling out the several hundred dollars for Adobe....



Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
...it sounds like the people who miss a backlight are used to having them on other devices...
I'm used to reading on my Palm, but I don't miss the BL -- I could be the exception that proves your rule, though.
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