11 March 2010

Is there anything sadder when you want to read?

One of the problems I'm continually facing with ebook reading activities concerns battery life. When you want to read, there's nothing worse than having a Low Battery! message come up on your device. It's actually quite a design flaw on the Sony PRS-700, particularly if you need to use the backlight. The screen has poor reflection due to the touch screen and lighting element so there are times you need to turn on the lighting to read the content without strain. As soon as you do, the battery reduces quickly. Too quickly! Unlike laptops that indicate how much time you have left, or cars that tell you how many kilometres (or miles for those reading elsewhere!) you have left before you need to refill, the Sony e-reader just shows a battery bar. When the battery bar goes to the last quarter there is no warning, no time message, that instructs you to recharge. You have no idea how much time you have left. You can guess, particularly if you aren't using the light, but when you use the light your number is pretty much up. Sorry folks, I appreciate you can't read particularly well with this lighting, here's a light that helps but did I mention it will prevent you from reading? No? Sorry.

As you know from prior posts, reading on planes isn't as fun with an electronic device, particularly as you have to turn it off for take off and landing. These are the times I WANT to read but I can't. I have to be content with reading the airline's magazine - which usually takes me all of 5 minutes! We're still on the runway and I'm craving something to read. Having the Low Battery message is a KILLER! Yesterday I had 90 minutes at the airport to fill before my flight. I thought I'd have a drink, something to eat, and then get back into the book I started to read on my flight up. There I was in the lounge, and the message appeared. I have no charger, I'm not even on the plane, and I'm prevented from reading!

The device was fully charged when I left Sydney on Monday morning. The total flight time was 90 minutes but of course you have to deduct about 40 minutes that you can't use the e-reader. I read on the flight - when we'd reached cruising altitude and were allowed to switch on electronic devices - and that was it. I should have had PLENTY of charge to get through the book, and perhaps another one. But no, I had to use the light prior to the return flight, and my reading plans were destroyed.

No matter what the marketing says - yes you'll get through 5000 page turns before you need to recharge, yes you'll have at least 24 hours without having to charge, yes yes yes - the reality is very different and disappointing when you use the backlight on the Sony PRS-700.

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