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      03.05.2010 13:12
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      Great if you read lots of books and want them to be portable, but still needs some problems resolved

      When I first heard about the concept of an eBook reader I was quite excited. I like to read a lot and would find it difficult to carry around all the books I want with me; they would be far too heavy. So, I thought it would be a wise idea to invest in one and found that the Sony PRS-505 was the most affordable one for me.

      I bought mine from Play.com for £179.99, quite a bit less than what it retails for in other places. I was happy to find that it arrived in only a few days, much earlier than I expected.

      Getting started was a very simple process. All I had to do was hook up the eBook reader to the USB port on my computer, install the drivers and I was ready to go. At this point I could transfer up to 160 eBooks to the internal memory, expandable by inserting memory cards into one of the two memory card slots on the side of the reader. However, I had to wait to use it as it needed to charge. It took somewhere between 30-60 minutes to finish charging before I could begin to explore it for the first time.

      The first thing that struck me when I used it was the slow refresh rate of the eInk screen. I was warned about this before I bought it, so I was prepared, but it was still a bit of a disappointment. Consequently, it takes about 2-3 seconds to turn a page,so it can sometimes be a test of your patience if you're really into your book and can't wait to see what happens next.

      The PRS-505 came loaded with quite a few books. How many there were I cannot remember, but I thought it was a nice addition if you're the kind of person who will read anything.

      To my surprise I found that the PRS-505 doubles as a music player, supporting MP3 and AAC audio files. However, the downside of this is that it runs down the battery very quickly.

      This brings me to one feature that especially stood out to me. The power consumption when you turn a page is extremely low. Providing you're not listening to music, you can read thousands of pages before the battery runs out!

      But there is one feature that really amazed me. The eInk page (i.e. the eBook reader screen) allows you to read in direct sunlight. Unlike most screens, this one has no backlight so it is very much like reading from a real page.

      Now for the negatives. In less than a year (after around 3 months) my PRS-505 broke. The battery no longer holds its charge, even when I'm not listening to music and there seems to be a damaged pixel on the screen which has arisen for some unknown reason. I'm hoping to return this soon and get my money back.

      In summary, the PRS-505 is a great idea and I found it to be very useful whilst it worked. It's new technology and the flaws still need to be ironed out so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

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      11.08.2009 15:01
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      The perfect gadget for the avid book reader.

      I absolutely love my ebook and carry it everywhere with me. I have been using it since late December 2008 and since getting it I have only read 4 real books - only because they were not available in ebook format. It came with 100 free classics which is nice because most of my favourite Jane Austen books were on there. It also gives me something to fall back on when I am short of money to buy an ebook.

      I am a readaholic and will often read a couple of books at a time and this is perfect for me as I can carry around all the books I may want to read in one small footprint, that is smaller than most books in width although perhaps a little larger in length. It stores about 160 books without any additional cards, although if you use the maximum sized flash card that can appararently take it up to 13,000 books. I have not had to go that far just yet.

      It takes books in the adobe PDF format and in Sony format. I have tended to use the adobe format as this seems to be pretty standard. You have to have the Adobe software installed on your PC to allow you to download the books and transfer to your EReader.

      I started off buying my books from Waterstones, but then found that WH Simths also sell ebooks in the Abobe book format too and they are often cheaper and have books that Waterstones don't have. I have found other sites where books are even cheaper, but have not had the courage to risk ordering and waste money if they don't work.

      I find my ebook easy to carry round in my bag and the batter lasts a long time, although I try to remember to charge it once a week. I read every night when I go to bed for about 2 hours and read at lunch times at work and will often snatch an hour at home when I get home from work. I did buy the mains charger at an extra £20 and have found this to be useful when I am nowhere near a PC to be able to use the usb connection.

      It is very easy to use and to setup all the software on your PC. The switch off function at the top puts it into a standby mode that uses very little battery power. I tend to use this a lot as switching properly off and back on does take about 5 -10 mins. Every so often I do a full switch off as sometimes it hangs. No worse that a windows computer, in fact it crashes far less than my laptop. There are two page changing options so depending on how you hold it you are within easy reach. I find it easy to hold and it is not heavy, in fact lighter than many books, especially War and Peace and Lord of the Rings. It has a bookmark feature so you can mark which page you are on.

      I havn't bothered with using the music function because I use an Ipod for that, but I might consider storing my pictures on it although it is only black and white.

      I am just using the standard cover that comes with it at the moment, however I should really buy the leather cover to protect it. That cost £25 which is at least the cost of 4 books, so may be I'll buy it next month.

      It does not have a backlight so cannot be read in dark or low lit places. This would have been nice, but I suspect it would be a hugh drain on the battery.

      Perhaps purists will moan that it will be the end of the book and that having a book to hold is far better. I think that this will only enhance the written word and will ensure that books and literature continue in our ever changing technological world. After all paper is a drain on the world forests and if we can start to reduce the amount of trees that we cut down by reducing the need for paper that cannot be a bad thing. I think that there will always be a place for physical books espcially text books and encyclopedias as the small format of an Ereader does not allow for the quality and detail to come out on diagrams and pictures. I will always go back now and again to my old books which I will never throw away. I will just never buy a physical book again, which will solve my book storage problem.

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      04.06.2009 17:48
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      Excellent. Top 5 gadget of the generation.

      Right. You want the convenience of taking a substantial library on holiday but can't afford the excess baggage allowance. Solution: Cram an extensive library onto the eReader and away. Let's be realistic though and say you could use this product anywhere. The Sony is a compact and lightweight e-book reader of the highest quality. The metal casing is both stylish and tasteful.

      The technical bit:

      Basically, the Sony displays books in an electronic format, like a MS Word document for example. The display is an 8 level grayscale dubbed by Sony as e-ink. It can store approxiamtely 160 books on the internal storage and catalogues these books orderly. There is a port for the use of additional storage and Sony rather kindly don't restrict you to their proprietary memory stick format.

      The software bundled is easy to set up and works with Windows XP and onwards inclusive of Media Centre editions. I also have had it on 64bit operating systems and it worked faultlessly. The software is undemanding and will run on the most basic of systems although to be fair if you are using XP or Vista you will almost certainly be far in excess of the minimum requirements.

      For lovers of different formats and file extensions you will be pleased to know that the eReader supports JPG, PNG, GIF and BMP for image files. It handles text in BBeB, either DRM or unsecure, TXT, RTF, PDF and MS Word docs. If you needed more there is also audio support in the shape of MP3 and AAC. Audio playback is fairly decent considering it isn't a dedicated music player. Invest in some quality earphones if you will use this feature regularly.

      Is it any good?

      Well it is very good. The main selling point is the e-ink which to be honest I found astonishing. Now lets be clear, I have had loads of phones, gamers and PDA's and they have not come close to this quality. I kept on tilting the Sony as it looked as though the words were literally printed on the screen. Yuo can look at it from all angles with only the most extreme ones losing sight of the text. All books are well managed and you can read several at once should you wish and they will be automatically bookmarked. The interface is both intuitve and responsive. Reports of the book being slow to turn the pages proved incorrect unless there was a new software update to fix the problem.

      The content:

      Well, as said by other reviewers you get 100 classic titles free, either on disc or as a download. They include some really good works from Shakespeare to Lewis Carrol. 160 books on the the unit itself is quite a lot but I added a 4GB card which will hold all the books you could ever want. E-books are readily available all over the net, an awful lot of them for free too. You may find that official stores are still expensive at the moment as this is an emerging market but they are about inline with a regular paperback. The only current problem is that a lot of new and recent titles haven't yet been transferred into electronic form.

      Summary:

      This is an excellent introduction to the e-book market. The display is stunning and clear in most environments. I know many people are awaiting a colour version but I would be astounded if it could reproduce quality like this even with organic displays. Colour would be good for pictures and media files though.

      Its small and chic but if you do end up taking it on holiday, don't dump it poolside or on the beach!

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        06.02.2009 23:33
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        A useful device, but will not replace books for me!

        I am a complete book addict and have over 800 books in my house. They were taking up to much space so when this new device came out I was quite excited! For me it would be a way of storing hundreds of books and I would also be able to take many books away with me without taking up luggage space.

        I have used this for several months now. I have mostly downloaded the free classics as currently in the UK e-books are no cheaper then paperbacks and in some cases, more expensive. I do like using it, I sometimes almost forget I am reading from an electronic device and it is so easy to use. It's light to hold and I like the fact that you can change the font size if needed. So yes, it did do everything I had hoped and if prices for e-books come down then this is a good buy.

        However, would it ever replace the conventional book? For me, not a chance. This is an addition to my book collection, not a replacement. There is nothing like reading a new book - with crisp pages. And I wouldn't risk such an expensive piece of equipment by reading in the bath! I like to embrace new technology but I will keep my overflowing library just the same.

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          03.11.2008 20:38
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          alrite

          **** Sony E Reader ****

          I really enjoy reading but somehow my suitcase always ends up really heavy so when i saw that my local Waterstones had some in stock i decided to purchase one.At 199 quid its not cheap but i felt i could easily spend that on buying the books alone.

          **What is it?**
          Basically it is an electronic device that you can store books on.The memory size you get with it holds up to 160 books but there is also slots for you to add extra memory if needed,not that you would need it.

          **Pros**
          One of the best things about this is that you do not have to carry loads of books around with you.
          Books are cheaper on the ereader than they are to buy normally and when you buy the ereader from Waterstones it comes with 100 classic books so if you are like me and would read these anyway the ereader pays for itself.
          Font size on the e reader can be changed to suit the individual.
          It can also hold/play music which is good in a way because it means you have to carry one less device about with you.
          Pictures can also be stored on this but i dont really like this feature .

          **cons**
          Like i said above pictures can be stored but they are not in colour.
          There are not as many books out for the ereader and they can be harder to find.When you buy an ebook from waterstones the search engine is not that good.
          Audio books cannot be played.
          The screen sometimes flickers when you turn the page and there is not a light on it so you cant read books in the dark.I bought a light up bookmark which solved this problem but it was still annoying.
          You do not get a wall charger with this!!
          Overall
          I think that this device is okay but i have a feeling that devices such as amazons kindle are going to be much better so i would advise waiting for one of these.

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            15.06.2008 19:46
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            Rubbish - avoid at all costs

            There was a time when Sony was one of the most trusted and successful electrical brands on the planet. But it seems that with this product they have let themselves down considerably.

            ---What is it?---
            The purpose of this device is to provide you with e-books that you can read on the go, and from the 6 inch screen. But i'm afraid i'm going to have to throw the book at Sony (sorry bad pun). This product is in fact completely pointless - why spend the best part of £200 on an electronic device that is harder to read than a real book?

            ---Is it Worth my Dosh?---
            Simply put - no.

            To add to the fact that it is hard to read, it also has constant faults - such as flickering black screens between turning pages. The PRS-505 is simply a high maintenance, high-price, low value product that has no unique selling point. For a few quid extra you can get your hands on an iPhone, that apart from having all the brilliant features it does, will also let you listen to audiobooks, and if you're REALLY that desperate to read a novel on a portable device, you can read the PDF file on your iPhone as well.

            ---Verdict---
            I find it almost embarassing that Sony have released this product, as there are other things a million times better and considerably cheaper. The Sony online book store is appalling and expensive. I say, avoid this piece of junk at all costs.

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              19.05.2008 13:48
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              I'm a convert to the paperless book.

              It was my husband, a huge fan of both literature and technology that first made me aware of the e-book and in particular of the Sony Reader. Unlike me, he tends to think hard about his purchases in advance and so there were many conversations (well not really conversations as that would assume my participation) around the virtues of this product before he actually decided to take the plunge and get one.

              I am by no means a prolific reader and my literary tastes are not as high brow as his, but I do appreciate books. I like to see books lined up on a shelf and I am fascinated by old books in museums, so a book reader just seemed, well wrong, to me.

              But despite my feelings on this and my rather large hints connected to a certain necklace from Tiffany's, it was a book reader that I found myself unwrapping on Christmas Day last year.

              What is it like?~~

              The book reader is about eight by six inches and just over half an inch thick. I have not weighed it but it is extremely light and definitely lighter and more compact than your average paperback novel. The screen itself is obviously smaller, that is about six by four inches, with the control buttons around the edges as you can see in the product picture. A leather wallet for protection is provided.

              The screen uses new technology, so-named "e-ink" which is nothing like the LCD display on your typical PC or laptop. The background is a pale grey colour, there is no glare and the page has a sort of "matt" appearance that really does look like a page in a book. Consequently the prevailing light conditions have no more effect on your ability to read this than they would if it were a paper book. There is no glare or need to craftily angle the reader if sitting in the sunshine for instance and equally at bedtime you will need lights on as the reader is not backlit.

              Navigation is intuitive. From the main menu it is possible to browse through the saved books in a few ways namely, by author, by book title or by date and selection of one to read is a simple and obvious press of a button. If you make a selection but want to go back, the "Menu" button can be used, again fairly intuitive and I did not need to refer to the manual to work out how to navigate around.

              The reader does have some other functionality which I will come to later, but I just use it for reading. Each time it is turned off and back on, it will remember where it was automatically and there is no need to page through the menus again. Also whilst there is a bookmark function, this can be used if you specifically want to refer back to something, but you don't need to use it to bring up your last read as that will always be remembered by the gadget. Speed of turning the page is something that is very important, I have been perfectly happy with this, it takes a fraction of a second and no longer than turning a page in a real book.

              The built in memory of the reader can store well over a hundred books. Additionally there are two memory card slots, one takes a Sony memory stick (can be used in other Sony products such as cameras and laptops) and there is also a slot which will fit an SD memory card, commonly used in cameras as well. Either of these would allow you to have thousands of books at your fingertips. I personally am not sure this is necessary and would prefer to keep it to a more manageable hundred or so. My reason being that when I am choosing my next book to read, I am not sure I want to page through a list of thousands.

              Where and how do you get e-books?~~

              The obvious starting point is the Sony e-books store, which works in a very similar way to I-Tunes. So you buy books, download to your PC and then transfer to and from the reader at will, either connect the reader to your PC with a USB cable or save the books onto the memory card and the pop the card into the reader. Easy peasy. I have found there to be a decent range of books available, but it is certainly more limited than in our usual book stores. Some authors don't want their books to be made available this wasy, JK Rowling being one such for example.

              There are a couple of other options. If you like your classics or should I say public domain books such as Dickens or Shakespeare then you can download these for free from a website called www.mobileread.com, and no doubt some others websites as well. The SONY e-book store will also let me download the 100 classics for free, which is plenty enough to keep me going.

              Finally if you are fairly technically inclined you can buy from other e-book stores (I won't name them all but google or wikipedia can help) and then convert the file into a Sony compatible format.

              As I am not that technically inclined and do not particularly like reading the classics, the first option works best for me. Sadly there is currently one huge but I believe temporary drawback. The product is not officially launched in Europe just yet and you can only shop in the Sony book store with an electronic book voucher or a US credit card! As I live in Bermuda at the moment, I make fairly regular trips to the US and have a stock of electronic book vouchers that I can use for now. I bought my e-vouchers from Borders, a large chain book store in the US.

              The good news is that it is my understanding that Sony will launch the book reader in the UK later this year and at this point, the book store will start to accept UK credit cards.

              E-book prices at the moment seem to be pretty much the same as the paperback versions. I was a bit surprised at this as there are no printing or distribution costs. I would imagine that as the product becomes more common place, these prices will start to come down.

              Other technical points~~

              The battery is extremely long life as it only uses power when you electronically turn the page, the rest of the time it makes no difference whether the screen is switched on or off. So if like me you regularly fall asleep with book in hand (or on head) it isn't going to waste the battery. I have found that my battery will easily last a week or more when reading a few chapters a day. Even on holiday when reading more often than normal it has lasted a good five days. I have never been caught out with a low battery as the icon at the bottom of the screen clearly indicates status.

              The reader will store photographs and the display is clear albeit in black and white only. A colour version of the book reader is somewhere in the pipeline but at the moment is very expensive and it takes a long time to turn a page.

              MP3 files can also be stored and played. The advantage might be one less gadget to carry around, the disadvantage is that you can't make playlists and would have to tab through all the tracks to get to one you want. No doubt this would also expend battery life at a much faster pace and it is not something that I would bother with myself.

              Conclusion~~

              The biggest problem with this product right now is availability in the UK. I bought mine in the US (£150 equivalent) and bought my e-book vouchers in the US as well. But I have written my review with the expectation that it will be fully available in the UK before much longer.

              I have definitely overcome my natural scepticism and perhaps hostility towards the product. I was won over by the very easy to read screen, which did not result in eye strain or headaches as I had expected. But the main advantage I found is definitely the size and weight, on a daily basis it easily slips into my handbag unlike some books and on holiday I was able to take this very small and lightweight gadget and have over a hundred books to chose from, rather than carry around four or actual five books.

              So, when it does get released in the UK, I would definitely recommend giving it a go.

              Update: the product is now available in the UK and usually retails for about £200.

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