Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Almada, Portugal
Device: Cybook Gen3, Sony PRS 505, Kindle DXG and Samsung Galaxy Note
I went to the Dark Side!
Well not exactly… but I have bought a Sony prs 505.
First let me share why:
1 - since July 2008 when Sony upgraded their firmware I was interested, very interested indeed in two of the new things in it - ePub and reflow PDF’s.
After that, and several times I have advocate for the Cybook to have these options too. Until today nothing happened (besides some “who knows, inside information that perhaps, maybe, who knows, something was in the way…), not even a reaction of that could not be done.
For months I wanted to experiment with it, and from the creators (Bookeen) of my machine (the Cybook) niente;
2 - I wanted a second reader. Besides the famous idea of “what is better then one eBook reader? Two eBook readers!”, I know that I do not want to be without a reader if something goes wrong. I really do not want to be reader(less) if I have to send my Cybook to be repaired or something like that. And we all know… tech stuff just dies… and dies like that, normally without a warning!
3 - the lady in the house has given some hints that she would be reading in a such device if one was available… in vacations per example…
So joining all of this with the proximity of Christmas and a lucky trip passing Heathrow airport, led me to have now a prs 505.
One more thing: why not the 700? No need the extra stuff, no need to pay extra as the functionalities I wanted to test/play with it, I have all of them in the 505, and so no need to have an inferior screen reading experience. So out the equation the 700 was.
Having had the 505 for a week this is what I have found (I will sometimes compare it with the Cybook of course):
1 - the reader is a good looking little thing. Grey and metal, very nice first impression;
2 - it’s heavy compared with the Cybook, after a little reading with 2 fingers, it begins to show, I can do that with the Cybook for hours(!);
3 - its’ cold… now this one I have not seen reported anywhere, but as the reader is metal, and reading in bed at night, one gets the fingers quite cold just by holding the 505. Talk about loss of comfort(!);
4 - it did come 3/4 charged, and I charged it with the supplied usb cable without a problem. I have also an external battery (tekkeon 3400) for all my devices - from tablet pcs to pocketpcs - who has a tip for the playstation (it’s the V labelled tip from the several that comes with the battery) - and I can charge the reader from that too, so no need to buy the playstation charger for “faster” charging as advised in the forums;
5 - the look of the menus and correlating accesses are not to the level of the Cybook in any of the options. Out of the box, some are so excruciating that I was quit amazed by them - example, in the eBooks list, if the title is small in length it shows it in a big font, if it’s a big title it shows in a small size font, the result being alternate font size titles in a title list(!), Jesus(!);
Of course one can change that with PrsCustomizer, but that’s a (outstanding) reflashing procedure, created in the forums. Hell I had to use it because I could not support those menus anymore;
6 - one does not get a list of the eBooks showing their first front pages. In the Cybook one does. Probably a question of personal preference, but I do prefer the Cybook way;
7 - power up with the same amount of eBooks in the main memory, the Cybook takes 25 seconds, the 505 50 seconds, this is done pressing a button in both. Closing, the Cybook does it immediately, the 505 takes some 15 seconds, in the Cybook its’ made by pressing a button, in the 505 one as to press 4 different buttons (from the main menu). I know I can use PrsCustomizer to assign a button to the this functionality, but I do not want to “make better” the reader with outside software, I have just done just that for the font sizes described above (5) because I could not support the look of the lists anymore;
8 - converting software. The outstanding Calibre software does it all for the 505. One can create and convert to lfr (own Sony format) or ePub, almost every thing. I would say it’s up to the level of the Mobipocket Creater software by Mobipocket, and can do all the things (and some more) this one can. There are no sufficient praises for kovidgoyal, Sir you are a gentleman. There are plenty of other tools to create, make better, etc. but Calibre it’s more then enough for the normal person.
One idea, it’s a bit arcane sometimes, and a full tutorial and/or help is in order.
The lfr format shows the same possibilities the Mobipocket does for reading with a very interesting possibility, one can choose the size of the margins (in Calibre you can do the same for ePub), so letting just 5 points for the margin one gets much more text space for reading. This is a great plus, as in the Cybook and Mobipocket the margins are fixed and one looses something like 20 to 25% screen space.
For the rest, all the main formatting one can get in Mobipocket, one can get in lfr;
9 - ePub. Finally I had the opportunity to see it in and actual reader and converted some stuff to this format. They look good but, and until the format (or the software in the readers) permits one to choose to read one’s eBooks justified, it has no purpose for me, even if it’s the future and the solution lots of people are envisioning… no justification, no reading (for me at least). It’s fun to play with it do…
10 - reflowing PDF’s… well that was a really must. In practice it’s a hit and miss situation, some reflow great, some it’s useless and some just do not do it… it has to do with reader implementation of reading PDF’s.
Well what I have discovered is simple, direct produced PDF’s from digital documents, a word document, a scientific paper directed created from a word/other office document, normally reflows beautifully. Images inside text PDF’s depends, some show well, some so… so… and some just do not show. OCRed PDF’s normally are a mess, up to now, the Acrobat (version 8) OCR is what has produced better results but none of much usability, other software leaders in the OCR market give rather worse results.
Interesting enough, the landscape possibility to read PDF’s, where it “splits” each page in half proves to be very efficient for reading quite some PDF files, better then the Cybook zoom option, where one has to check for what is the exact zoom for the exact file… hell most of the times one does get to page 3 or 4 times to “see” a full page in the Cybook;
I say here one more time - the Adobe Acrobat reader for pocketpcs does an outstanding better work in reflowing PDF’s then this version on the 505. And this software is from 2002, 6 years ago(!);
11 - for the rest, just 2 showing fonts (serif and sans serif) and 3 sizes it’s a joke compared with the Cybook any number of fonts and 12 sizes. I know… I know… I can reflash the reader with other fonts but it’s painful, dangerous and not related to the normal user… and most of all… it does not came out of the box with that possibility.
Another thing, and one that makes me not needing to use a light for reading (I have spoken about this several times too), it’s the possibility to make bold (choosing an option) the all text of a eBook in the Cybook, and thus be able to read easily in ambiances where other readers need special lights. With the 505 I need to, at least pass the font size of medium, who helps but makes one have to turn from 25 to 50% more times pages… and we all know what a pain that is(!);
12 - speed in choosing pages and navigating menus are the same, or minimal in difference. So both are more then enough responsive in that department for me.
And now, conclusions:
The prs 505 is a beautiful device, with the help of Calibre and these outstanding forums delivers everything a person needs to have for reading eBooks.
For a first time eBook reader, it’s a great choice and I’m sure that in most of the places the price makes it the perfect choice.
Finally, to who wants to read ePub (and besides the Hanlin and clones) or read scientific papers/magazines/manuals/eBooks in PDF in a 6” screen is the better solution if not almost the unique today.
For sure I will keep and enjoy mine as a second reader - or primary if something goes bad with the Cybook - and an occasional tool for reading, and not so occasional if serious (scientic, etc…) documents present themselves.
My main reader is going to stay the Cybook.
It’s simple, serves as a reader perfectly and gives me all the options to optimize my daily reading.
Will I advise the 505 to costumers, friends, family?
No if comparing with the Cybook, even if this one costs a little more, or Bookeen continuous to behave to costumers as it has been behaving all this year.
So… no I did not went to the dark side!
(please understand this is just intended to be a joke, my apologies go in advance to all the Sony users, as they have a great reader too!).