Review: Sony Reader PRS-505 Takes the Stage!

So Sony noticed that we do a lot of book giveaways here, and they offered to let us test run a sleek, shiny, silver Sony Reader PRS-505.  What’s the green angle to a Sony Reader?  We can save a lot of resources if electronic readers capture the market: paper, resources to make paper, ink, transportation, space, etc.  Make sure to read Smart Planet for a thorough eco analysis of the reader, though.  Anyway, being avid readers, we decided to give it a shot, because, to be entirely honest, we can’t stop reading!  So I opened up the box about a month ago (yep, I’ve been using it that long to be sure about what I say below), and I was blown away.  Seriously.  The screen is so much like paper — I couldn’t believe it.  As a result, I decided, then and there, to try to make a video so you can see what I see. 

But … as you can tell from the video above, I’ve never made a video before.  My wife was in the background talking to the dog, so I overdubbed some music that I like from Amos Lee to drown that out.  What I ended up with is the Sony Reader dancing around in front of the camera with totally chilled out tunes.  It’s a little awkward, but you can see the Reader from different angles and catch some of its features.

Here are a few images, to get a better idea of what the Reader looks like:


Bookmark/Dogear:
The Reader is quite intuitive.  It holds your place for you, no bookmarkers needed.  You can dogear and bookmark pages that you like, too.  I marked several spots in my books, which is nice, because I can go back and re-read that stuff.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to highlight text or take notes in the Reader.  Some people don’t do that, but I dogear and write in the margins, etc.

Font Size:
You can blow up the text to whatever size you need in the reader.  I like to keep it small, though, because the larger your text size, the more pages you need to read.  A three hundred page book all the sudden reaches seven hundred pages in large font and I start feeling like I’m back in the 10th grade reading Crime & Punishment.  I’m playing, but the font adjustment feature could be nice for some folks. 

Capabilities:
The Sony Reader has the ability to take on images and music, too.  I guess, technically, you could listen to music and read at the same time, although I didn’t try that.  It has expansion memory slots both in the Sony card type and in the SD-style memory type, which gives it the ability to take on a lot of files: 160 books without the expansion slots, and tons more if you use extra memory.  But I never really needed to use all that memory, because the library software holds all the books you own and I just added a few to the Reader at a time. 

Convenience:
One of my favorite features was the Reader’s flat, convenient size.  It’s really nice to hold and walk around with.  I’m the kind of guy that likes the tactile feel of reading and touching a book, so I was really surprised at how easily I adapted to the Reader.  All the sudden, I was over at the gym with the Reader on the elliptical reading away.  Thirty minutes, four times a week and I was all the way through a book!  Before having a Reader, I stopped reading books on the elliptical because I couldn’t keep the pages back, but now I can do all that.  And I’m really cooking on the elliptical, too. 

eBook Library Software:

Readerlibrary

If you get a Sony Reader and activate it prior to September 30, 3008 (subject to the terms you can find on the Sony website), you get to download 100 eBook classics.  I did that and downloaded a ton of good stuff, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  This 100 eBook giveaway was a cool way to get me involved with the Reader and it seriously sucked me in.  Plus the reader felt just like iTunes to me, so I didn’t have any problems getting it up and running pronto. 

eBook Library Selection:

Readerss2

After reading a few freebies, I wanted to buy a couple new books, but that was a little difficult.  The library has a lot of fiction/literature  and new releases, but I didn’t find much in likes of green book selection.  For instance, I wanted to get the paperback version of Worldchanging, you know, the book with a forward by Al Gore.  But it wasn’t in the library.  There is, as you might be able to tell in the screenshot above, a link so that you may request that books be added to the library.  I opted for another book, but eventually, I suspect book selection won’t be an issue.

Pricing Arbitrage:
One of the other issues I found was in relation to pricing.  With regular books, there’s a separate price for paper and hardbacks.  In the eBook library, I found books that had already been released in paperback, but that were still priced at the hardback price.  It’s tough to buy a book for the Reader at hardback price, knowing you can get it in paper for nearly half the price.  But I suspect this issue will resolve itself in the future as well.

Business Advantage:
You can upload most formats in the Reader, such as PDF, TXT, JPG, GIF, and MP3.  The one I like the most is the ability to upload PDFs.  I have a monster folder full of white papers, research reports, etc., and I can plug those into the Reader and take them everywhere I go.  It’s lighter and easier to use than a laptop and tons more convenient.  I like this feature a lot, too. 

What Should You Do?
You’re probably wondering how the Sony Reader PRS-505 stacks up against the other behemoth in the room.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that.  I’ve only used this one, but in just looking at both of them, I like the design and look of the Sony Reader a ton better.  I’ll let you make the call, but I really do think there’s sticking power with the advent of this reader technology.

Where to Buy:
[$] Sony | Sony Style Website
[$] Amazon: Silver + Blue


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  • Anonymous

    I tried the PRS-505 out today in Borders, and I couldn’t get the font to enlarge very much at all–just a couple of increments was all. Tapping the size button a third time brought it back down to the small size again. The largest size I managed to get out of it was still pretty small. I was pretty disappointed, because this was one of the features I was pretty excited about.

    When you say, “You can blow up the text to whatever size you need in the reader,” do you mean that literally? If so, there must be another button somewhere that I missed.

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      No Shaz, that’s the only button that I know of. In saying that, I guess I mean as big as you want (within the constraints of the system). When I used it, my text was pretty big and I couldn’t imagine it needing to get any bigger. But that said, the text size feature might have something to do with the format of the book that you’re reading. There are different formats that can be used. I can’t claim to be an expert there, though. Good luck in the search!

  • http://www.gadget-blog.co.uk gadget

    Really good post, thank you. We get the Sony Reader in the UK in Sept but as usual, more expensive than in the US (£199). The Sony eBook store is a US site, do you know of any reason why the US eBooks wouldn’t work on the UK version of the PRS-505?

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      I wish I did know, but I don’t. They might use different encoding or loading software to be able to charge two prices based on country attitudes and expectations. I’m not sure though. I’ll keep my eye out for an answer.

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