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I have had my Sony Reader in the colour silver for two years now and I just love it. I know a lot of people cannot turn their backs on the printed word and can't see themselves ever using an electronic book.I however,see no problem.I still love reading my favourite books in print format but I find myself using my Sony Reader more and more.
The e-book reader itself holds well over a hundred books and that's even before adding a memory card.Different colour leather covers are available to purchase to make it your own and make it feel more like a real book.There is no back light so reading in sunlight is a dream.the battery life is excellent.You can get through a whole book without needing to charge it. One complaint I do have is that it does have a bit of a delay when turning pages but that can easily be overlooked.It's very easy to download books and transferring onto the reader itself couldn't be easier.The price is a bit steep at 119euro (at time of purchase),but in the long run it's worth it.
Overall,the Sony Reader is perfect to pop in your bag on a flight or train journey.You can also transfer music onto it and pictures appear in black and white.You'll have to supply your own headphones though!
Now I love reading but there is always the problem at holiday time - how do you take enough books away with you without incurring baggage charges. Holidays aside my other problem is reading in bed - one side of the book is always heavier than the other and therefore more difficult to hold when laid on your side.
Enter your knight in shining armour - the sony e-reader holds up to 160 ebooks and comes in a range of colours - mine is a stunning red. The menu is easy to follow - allowing you to change the orientation from portriat to landscape (useful for propping the book up at the breakfast table) and with the option to go straight to the last page you read (who needs a bookmark?) The e-books are easily purchased and downloaded and are collected together by title, author or date.
Having said that - and I am gadget girl - this is not my first choice of book. Apart from the unique feel of a book the e-books are, at best, the same price as the book version - what do you do when you finish one - you can't give an e-book away. I am used to an ipod but found the whole downloading books / uploading onto the reader difficult to suss and, recently, I dropped the e-reader and nearly had to throw it away when it refused to work for a while.
My advice - if I didn't have one then I wouldn't bother. This is one gadget too far for me.
I'm sure by now a lot of you will be familiar with eBook readers, an electronic device designed to, for all intents and purposes, act just like a real book. And I'm sure a lot of you think the idea is absolutely ludicrous, that there is no need to make something such as a book, which obviously has stood the test of time just fine as it is, electronic.
Well a couple of months ago I decided to splash out on one, having managed to pick up the old model (pictured, only mine is a sexy red!) on sale from John Lewis for £150, as the new touch-screen version was coming out. The new version, I should point out, is twice the price and the upgraded features are not particularly necessary, so I was very happy with my bargain.
Here's a question I hear constantly about the Reader: "It's nice and all, but reading on a screen strains your eyes doesn't it?"
Not this screen! The Reader, and competing eBook brands such as Amazon's Kindle, uses new technology called eInk, which is designed to look just like printed words on a page. And let me tell you, it's pretty impressive. This means that while it is not backlit, and as such you will need a reading light just like with a regular book, you can read comfortably in bright light (eg on a beach) and can read for as long as you want without getting strained eyes. And if the text is too small? Make it bigger, there are three text sizes to choose from.
Statement number two I hear a lot: "Well, it looks flashy, but it's not like holding a real book."
No, it's actually a lot more comfortable. There are two page turn buttons at either side of the screen, so you can hold however is more comfortable to you, easily in one hand if you choose. You can also set it down on a table to read without having to prop the pages open, and is considerably easier than wrestling with a weighty, thicker book.
I will agree that for all the bookmarking capabilities in the world some books, namely textbooks, are much better accessed in print where you can flip backwards and forwards as you like. However, for fiction the Reader is absolutely perfect, and this is coming from a tough critic as I like books, a lot.
So how easy is it to get a book once you have the Reader? Well, mine came with a CD of 100 classics for starters, although these and many other out-of-copyright books can be downloaded easily for free at Project Gutenberg and other websites. You can also use Sony's own store, or Waterstones, or, like me, you can cheat and get books for free. Yep, I have easily already obtained enough books gratis to recover the money I spent on the Reader, and not just classics. New books, such as the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dan Brown's latest, a lot of 100 Stephen King novels. A lot of books I had been looking for for months at my library. I will not give out links here as, quite frankly I am quite sure what the sites do is illegal and I want to keep my dealer, thanks! But if you have a Reader and require some reading material, drop me a private message!
If you download a book, it might be in the wrong format for the Reader, such as a .lit file, but there are many free programmes which you can use to easily convert the file. I find .txt files work the best (besides of course those designed specifically for the Reader), with .pdf sometimes appearing way too small on the screen as they are of course originally designed for an A4 page. Although you can make them bigger, this results in lots and lots of page-turning, and some pages being only half-filled, which is a tad distracting.
Battery life was a bit of a concern for me at first, but put it this way - in the almost three months I've owned the unit I have charged only twice - and those were not even full four-hour charges (through a computer, although you can buy a wall charger for a hefty pricetag). In this time I read over 10 books, which is really impressive. Even if you fall asleep with the Reader on (it does have a sleep timer I believe), the battery will not be drained as there is no backlight to operate and as such it only works on turning pages, etc (which by the way is really quick, I don't know what some reviewers are talking about!)
The main advantage for me is being able to take a lot of books away when I travel. I have often gone on a long plane journey knowing that the book I am currently reading will not last, so have had to haul a second along. Or been at a boring day at work and finished my book with no back-up. Well now I have over 100 back-ups whenever I want them, and I know the battery is not going to give up on me either!
Of course there have to be some negatives, but these are very minor. I do worry about leaving the book around when I am reading in a more public place, as it's so expensive. Not only that but everyone seems to think that, despite the numbered buttons down the side which operate the menu quite nicely, it is touch screen and frequently pick up the book to look at it and make huge fingerprints everywhere. I'm not entirely sure the best way to clean the screen as the eInk is so cutting edge and I do worry about scratching or breaking the screen, especially when the book is in my bag which maybe has heavy things such as my laptop in. Sony's eLibrary software is also clunky and frequently crashes, but it's very easy to just drag and drop the files instead.
All in all for me, someone who reads often and finds it difficult to keep up with the pricetag of books these days, it was a worthwhile investment while I can get the books I want to read for free. Gotta love the internet. If you were wondering about the Reader, now might be a time to pick one up (or hint for Christmas!) as the old model is being sold off at plenty of places, just do a Google search, but I'd say it's more one for the avid bookworms and travellers.
I have had my current Sony Reader for just over 4 months, it is a replacement for one purchased Xmas 2008 which had gradually stopped retaining charge and, so far, this one has been perfect so I am putting my initial problems down to an isolated fault.
I don't consider my Reader to be a replacement of "real" books in any way but it serves to complement my collections and provides me with a convenient and easy way to have a choice of 1000s of books to dip in and out of every day.
The reader itself is lighter than a paperback book, much slimmer (less than 1cm) and marginally larger in height and width. It is easily small enough to be carried anywhere and I can personally testify that the e-ink used on the screen is just as easy to read in bright holiday sunlight as it is on a dreary commute to work!
It is worth investing in an SD card to go with the Reader, in my opinion, as it really does make your options for book-carriage limitless. It is surprising how quickly the 10 classic ebooks begin to fill up the internal memory and leave you wanting more.
The controls and user interface on the reader are both intuitive and ergonomic and are placed in such a way as enables you to hold the Reader as if you were holding an actual book with options to turn the pages at thumb level and the more occasional control options neatly aligned along the outer side of the "page". As the controls are inset into the casing of the Reader they are unobtrusive, without being positioned in such a way that they can be easily caught by accident.
It is the further menu options that give the Reader potential advantages over a traditional book. These options include keeping a history of the books you have been reading, providing constantly updated bookmarks that allow you to have more than one title active, allowing you to skip to a specific point within a title and gives you options to enlarge the font size if needed.
The major downsides of the Reader centre on the slight delay on page turn (which over the course of a book, particularly a thriller, can become tedious) and the method of charging.
As standard it is a USB charge from your PC which is not ideal as it does limit your options to carry on reading each night after the commute or to be 100% sure the battery will last a 2 week holiday, in addition is a slow charge and so emergency top-ups of the battery are not really feasible. It is a problem easily solved, however, by purchasing a standard Sony adapter which lets you plug it directly into a wall socket.
Accessories on sale for the Reader are, in general, a good investment too. The optional light (or lighted cover) gives the freedom to read on planes and such like and is a godsend for letting my husband sleep when I can't put a certain book down! Other cover options allow personalisation of the Reader and, as mentioned above, the charger really is a must-buy.
The final point to consider is the general availability of ebooks which are at a higher fee, generally, in the UK than the US. Aside from the 100 classic books included with the Reader, many other out of copyright works are available to download free of charge but purchasing a digital version of a paperback can be expensive (or impossible) which is a great excuse to still buy a few "real" books for the shelves at home!
Prices for ebooks are lowering and the 3 big booksellers (Waterstones, WH Smith and Borders) have a fair selection.
In addition it is worth remembering that the reader's weight means it has a surefire advantage over hardback editions and having a browse through the cheaper ebooks could find you an obscure bargain that turns into a new favourite title!
I got this for Christmas. My boyfriend obviously knows me well, it's the perfect present for me. I'm a bit of a gadget freak, but I like simple, elegant things too. And this is perfect on both counts.
So first impressions... the build quality of this is excellent. It has a metal chassis that feels nice and weighty in the hand (although it's still lighter than an average size paperback book). The buttons are all flush with the surface so even in its protective cover it's very slim (less than 1cm). I suppose it's a bit of a swizz that this is always pictured with the black leather cover, but usually comes with a brown vinyl one... but I fell in love with it pretty much instantly so can overlook its minor faults.
Mine came with some excerpts of current bestsellers pre-loaded, so straight away I could start marvelling at how the screen really does look more like paper than a piece of electronics. If you haven't seen one of these before it's pretty fascinating! There are also 100 classic books on the accompanying CD so it didn't take long before I had a good selection of books I'd always meant to get round to reading at my fingertips.
Buying books online is pretty straightforward. The software for the Sony Reader allows you to manage books on the device, and seems to integrate fairly well with Adobe Digital Editions (which you need for DRM-protected eBooks in Adobe's formats). I've had a couple of occasions where I had to go looking for an ePub file to manually import into the library - it wasn't a big deal, but I guess a less PC-literate person might need help with that.
The eBook Library software (that you use to manage your collection of books on the device) is, to be honest, not that great. It does what it's supposed to, but it isn't very intuitive and doing things like setting up collections and syncing to different locations (some to the Reader's memory, some to an SD card, for instance) is a bit clunky. Hopefully they'll fix that in a future version.
So... onto the lovely reader itself...
It's very good at being a book. And, let's face it, that's what I want from it. It's light, it sits nicely in my hand, I can carry it (and hundreds of books - thousands on the SD card) in even quite a small handbag, and it weighs less than a magazine. The text is clear and very readable, and there are three font sizes to choose from. Turning pages is a breeze, and there are buttons for left- or right-handed use. (Either the circle button on the left of the unit, or some very nice recessed buttons on the right-hand edge.) It takes probably half a second to turn a page - which doesn't sound like much, but if you lose your place and need to skip through pages it's actually pretty slow. But fortunately there are plenty of ways to get back to your last page (including a History option) so that isn't really a problem.
As for the rest of the functions... well actually it's pretty slow and clunky. You can view books by collection, author, title or date. But within those, there's no option for a secondary sort (e.g. view by collection, but sort by author within the collection). Switching between menus is slow. I'm guessing that's a limitation of the screen, but I can't say for sure. There's a build-in MP3 player and headphone socket, but it doesn't have many features and I have to say I've never even tried it.
Probably the most infuriating thing is the availability of ebooks themselves. Classics are available for free on the internet (anything old enough to be out of copyright anyway), so if you're looking to catch up on all the things you should have read in school (yes, that's me!) then you're well catered for. Otherwise though the offerings are pretty patchy. And worst of all, many eBooks cost *more* than their paperback equivalents. Hopefully if these devices take off and demand for ebooks increases, publishers will be forced to price more competitively. But until then, the range of titles available is poor and frankly it often feels like we're being ripped off. Finally, if I haven't already put you off, some titles aren't optimised for small screen reading, so pages where the layout isn't straightforward can render badly with paragraphs appearing out of order. (Have a look at a paper copy of one of the For Dummies books for an example of the kind of thing that doesn't work well.)
But... and it's a big but... this device is so beautiful and so lovely to hold and so perfectly equipped for *reading* (i.e. what it's supposed to be for) that I can overlook all these minor faults, and I still wouldn't trade it for anything else, even a UK Kindle if it existed.
Finally, as a postscript, I should mention that this book has got me reading classics I never thought I'd get round to. For that alone, it should get 5 stars.