29 June 2009
Sony e-reader review
I'm currently trialling the HanLin and the Sony PRS-700 e-reader for an ebook project at work. When I started this blog I thought I'd review the HanLin e-reader first, but it's actually the Sony one that I'm reading more from at present, so it's going to end up reviewed first.
So my first thoughts about the Sony? Easier to use and more modern than the HanLin. Unfortunately the screen isn't as clear and the reflection from lights is annoying. You can't change the font - only the font size. The touch screen is good, I like it a lot. The main menu has the Continued Reading button, Your books, Your notes, Collections, Audio, Pictures and Settings (see image). I think the picture option is stupid, as the e-reader doesn't come in colour. Why would I want to look at a black & white picture? Not sure what Sony was thinking here! Once a title is selected, it's easy to set up how to turn the page. You can use the buttons or the touch screen. I'm actually using the stylus that came with it and you can set up what direction you'd prefer when turning the page. Once reading you can increase the size of the font to suit your needs and if it's your cup of tea, you can change to landscape. I'm finding the search function works well as does the Go To page. I haven't really used the Notes component but I played around with it, and no issues there. The synching from the Sony ebook portal isn't as good as I would expect and they have a bit more work to do until it has the same functionality as iTunes, for example. My main concern relates to the downloading of ebooks to the reader and for me, it's not as obvious as I would like as to whether the books have successfully loaded onto the e-reader. I need to keep playing with the type of books placed on the reader and moving content on and off the device so I am more familiar with the process. Lastly, the battery life is not as good as I would expect. The website says it lets you turn up to 7,500 continuous pages (or up to 2 weeks reading) on a single charge.. However if you use the built-in light, it chews up the battery very quickly. I would not recommend using it unless absolutely essential.
The Sony e-reader was sourced through our office in Portland Oregon. I believe it cost around $350 U.S. from the Sony website exclusive of shipping and extras like the charger (although you can charge by connecting via USB to your computer). The U.S. website advises the eBook Store is limited to U.S. and Canadian residents so my address is c/o our Head Office and I used my hotmail address so it would not impact on my project. I hear rumours Sony Australia may be launching towards the end of the year but have concerns about what product will be able to be sourced from them. Will they be creating a Sony Australia ebook store? I haven't heard from any publishers about being asked to provide Australian content. I DO know some trade publishers have made the Sony e-reader available to their publishing and senior sales/marketing staff. I can imagine how brilliant it would be when assessing manuscripts - no more paper, just the electronic file downloaded to the reader. Portable, paper-saving, easy access. Makes sense. And it also helps publishing staff become familiar with the device and thinking about the reading experience overall. So far, I've only heard a few publishing contacts mention they may move to reading all their books electronically but most in the publishing industry love the look and feel of a book. I'll continue this train of thought somewhere in future..... that, and a review of the HanLin. The one I thought I'd review first!