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Old 11-25-2006, 05:37 PM   #1
Yaholo
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Thumbs up User Review of the Sony Reader - My 2 Cents

I have used the Sony Reader for about 6 weeks now. I have taken it with practically everywhere and I have used up all it's memory plus stuffed a 512 SD card. This product has gotten a lot of skepticism and mixed press, so I want to help out a product I have had nothing but a positive experience with.

I have been like a kid in a candy store downloading Project Gutenburg books and putting them on the reader. I am a lover of classic and even ancient literature and being able to get so many great classics for free and still have the convenience of reading them like a book is great.

The Sony Reader is not perfect, but it the first e-reader I have seen that really has a change at doing to the written word what the iPod did to mp3s. The two concepts are very similar. The one of the iPod's key to success is that it didn't do anything other than play mp3s, and it did it well. While other mp3 players were competing over funtionality, the iPod won with simplicity. The Sony Reader has likewise decided not to make a laptop that is good for reading, they made a device that just plain is for reading.

The true beauty of the Sony Reader is that it is an e-reader plain and simple. Put your books or text on it, and then just read them like a book. Sure, you can't take notes, you can't mark up the texts, and you can't edit anything... but you want to do that you should buy a laptop in the first place.

E-Ink is as cool as Sony claims say and is implemented very well. Reading on the Sony Reader is just as easy on the eyes as reading a book. Most of the mixed press about the Sony Reader involves the e-Ink screen. First of all, back-lighting e-Ink is awkward nigh impossible. Plus, back-lighting would ruing the whole "easy on the eyes" thing and give you a headache. But why care? Do we avoid books because they aren't back-lit? Also, the slight delay and flash when turning pages is not shortcoming of the device it is again all about e-Ink. E-Ink actually physically changes to make a page, that once made, can stay there without draining power. Which brings me to next awesome feature...

The best device in the world will lose in the market if the battery life is too short to be functional. The Sony Reader's life on a single charge is amazing. In fact, Sony doesn't make any hourly claims as the battery is only used when the screen changes. You can take as long as you like reading a page and know that you are not against the clock. Sony's claim is that the Reader can last through 7,500 page turns, and it is true (as long as that is all it does).

On a side note, Sony loves to say their batteries don't have "memory" so you can charge and use them anytime you want, and I have not found this true with any of their products, including the Reader. Letting your Reader fully run out at least twice and then fully charging it will greatly increase your battery life. After a few initial "cycles", Sony's claim is more true.

I also must take a moment to point out how incredibly cool reading manga/graphic novels are on this device. Having that ability really adds to the overall entertainment value.

The music player is a limited feature and you may have a bit of a headache formatting your music to play on it. I feel like this was a frivolous feature, but then any new electronic device is not complete these days without a digital audio player. The audio works fine, and shows album art, but I wouldn't buy it for the player. The photo album is kinda cool as well, and does a great job at displaying gray scale versions of photos, but again you could take it or leave it.

So what is the bad? First of all, I agree that the buttons are not in the best place (unless you are left handed). However, the over-all arrangement of the device is simple and easy to use with about a 30-min learning curve. I can easy see the buttons being moved around for the next generation.

The screen size is also a mixed blessing. It is small enough to be greatly portable, but most PDFs are made for 8.5 x 11 layout not 3.57 b 4.82. Putting full-size PDFs on the device produces very small print. This size issue makes the device more on the entertainment side than the productive side.

Lastly, the Sony Connect store is a downside, that could eventually be an upside. For the most part, I have enjoyed the experience of buying a few books on the store. However, I am daunted by the drastically insufficient amount of books currently available. I couldn't even find any of the Harry Potter series. The Sony Connect store truly does have the potential to me an iTunes of books, but they will need to really push and get the library larger.

In the end, much like the first generation iPod, the Sony Reader is a great start to a new era of the written word but will most likely be refined as it goes. I guarantee that there will be another Sony Reader in 2 years if this one takes off at all. But you don't need to wait, this one is just fine. Here is my recommendation for purchasing the Sony Reader:

Who should buy it:
- People who read for entertainment, or just love reading.
- People who are computer literate enough to be comfortable taking text from the web and put it other file formats.
- People who are prone to paper cuts
- People who love iTunes and love books
- People who have a collection of e-texts from Project Gutenburg and other sources saved and sorted on your hard drive

Who shouldn't buy it:
- People who only read for productivity or information purposes
- People who need to do research and keep notes
- People who barely know how to save a file to a disk
- People who don't know what Project Gutenburg is nor would care if they knew
- People who don't have $350
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Old 11-25-2006, 07:48 PM   #2
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I agree with what you wrote. My major beef is with the Connect store not having enough books on it. I wanted so badly to get the Koontz novel, Odd Thomas, but no dice. I feel like they will eventually expand the book selection, then the reader will be perfect {to me}
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Old 11-25-2006, 08:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yaholo
...Sure, you can't take notes, you can't mark up the texts, and you can't edit anything... but you want to do that you should buy a laptop in the first place. ...
I agree with your statement. The "reviewers" out there treat the Reader like its a laptop or a PDA... which it is not. That's why the Reader already gets a bad review from them. I just laugh off the reviews at other "tech" sites now.

Great review, Yaholo.
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Old 11-25-2006, 09:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Yaholo
I couldn't even find any of the Harry Potter series.
Just to point out, there are *NO* legal copies of Harry Potter eBooks. They don't exist. Rowlings has not permitted electronic distribution of any of the books in the series.

http://www.qctimes.net/articles/2005...f301843672.txt
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Old 11-25-2006, 09:21 PM   #5
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Great review which echoes my views. I have actually found that I get far less eye strain reading with the Sony Reader than with most paperbacks. I think that this is for a couple of reasons. First, the text is consistent in quality and shape and not subject to the little variations and imperfections that are becoming more common in cheap paperbacks. Second, the curve of the binding in fatter paperbacks not only makes the book hard to read with one hand but also varies the perspective, lighting and readability of the text. Finally, with the reader, when the eyes get tired, I can just enlarge the font. With a regular paperback when the eyes get tired, they just get more tired. All in all, for reading books, my reader is a great buy. Not that it can't be improved in both functionality, graphics and content, but its a great start.
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Old 11-25-2006, 10:13 PM   #6
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Good review! Feel the same here... Matches what I have observed.

Had a blast reading a Project Gutenburg copy of Edison Conquest of Mars waiting for the tick counter to open up at a airport Friday morning. Was a 4 hour wait. Felt like a 1/2 hours. No eyestrain what so ever! Even in dim light with most of the windows on the plane closed, the reader was very visible without the reading light on!

Sony had a mega hit. And they deffently need this after this year.

Also a good way to use old SD card that are too small for current devices. 256 and 512 are greate.

Did have a person ask me is that the new Sony reader? He has seen it at PopSci site!

PS: If you like Jules Vern and HG Wells, Edison Conquest of Mars is worth reading! The reader just dissapeard when I was reading it.
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Old 11-26-2006, 01:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahm
Just to point out, there are *NO* legal copies of Harry Potter eBooks. They don't exist. Rowlings has not permitted electronic distribution of any of the books in the series.

http://www.qctimes.net/articles/2005...f301843672.txt
Thanks, I had no idea. I know that iTunes had about a year to 18 months before their store really had a near-full coverage of music... and for the same reasons. There is always great weariness towards new markets on the Internet.
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Old 11-26-2006, 04:03 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Yaholo
The music player is a limited feature and you may have a bit of a headache formatting your music to play on it.
Enjoyed reading your review - I completely agree with your comments.

Could you elaborate on the comments I've quoted above concerning music? I was under the impression that any MP3 file would play on the Reader - is that not the case?

I must admit I haven't - and most likely won't - used my Reader for music. I very much think it's a case of using the right tool for the right job, which in my case means using Reader for music, an iPod for music, and an Archos "media player" for video. All superb devices for doing what they're best at.
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Old 11-26-2006, 02:28 PM   #9
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Yaholo,

Excellent review! I liked the recommendations as they get right to the point.
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Old 11-26-2006, 02:30 PM   #10
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Fantastic review, and you seem a lot more "objective" than this guy!
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Old 11-26-2006, 02:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT
Could you elaborate on the comments I've quoted above concerning music? I was under the impression that any MP3 file would play on the Reader - is that not the case?
To elaborate, it does play traditional mp3 files just fine... but that is about it. I copied music from my PSP that was created with Sony's own SonicStage software and the Reader couldn't play it. The headache I am referring to is taking the time to convert all your other music from atrac3, aac, and wma to mp3 format. Not to mention the flat file structure of the player to begin with. It is a little less useful than an iPod shuffle.
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Old 11-26-2006, 05:42 PM   #12
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Have you tried AAC formated files? Wont do iPod protected AAC but will do the unprotected ones. its nice it pop up the album art also.
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Old 11-27-2006, 03:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yaholo
To elaborate, it does play traditional mp3 files just fine... but that is about it. I copied music from my PSP that was created with Sony's own SonicStage software and the Reader couldn't play it. The headache I am referring to is taking the time to convert all your other music from atrac3, aac, and wma to mp3 format. Not to mention the flat file structure of the player to begin with. It is a little less useful than an iPod shuffle.
Thanks for the clarification. I "rip" all my music to my iTunes library in MP3 rather than AAC format, so that wouldn't be an issue for me personally. As I say, though, I'll carry on using my iPod for music and use the Reader for what it's good at - reading books .
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