Sony to bring E Ink eBook reader to UK in September
OK, call us Luddites, but we'd rather settle down with a old fashioned paperback than one of these electronic readers. But Sony believes enough UK punters want one when it brings it to the UK in September.
The gadget in question is the PRS-505 Reader, the UK incarnation of the second-gen E Ink screen-equipped unit that's been on sale in the States since autumn 2007. Its screen is a hi-res greyscale job that doesn't require power to retain an image.
The upshot: Sony claims a Reader's battery charge is good for "7500 page turns".
Sony's PRS-505: brought to book
The new model has room for 160 eBooks, but you can expand the 260g Reader's capacity with Sony Memory Stick Duo or SD memory cards.
In addition to eBooks, the Reader will display JPEG, GIF, PNG graphics files; PDFs; and Word and TXT files. It'll play MP3 and AAC music too.
Content can be purchased from Sony's UK eBook partner, High Street bookseller Waterstone's, which will have some 25,000 eBooks available to buy online come September.
Apparently, it's "invented for book lovers", but we reckon real book lovers wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. You can't beat the feel and smell of real paper, we say, though we'll admit that the Sony product does look safe to lend to those w**kers who can't read a paperback without breaking its spine.
And we've never had the battery die on a real book yet...
Excellent device in general
Apologies for length of the comment!
I bought the PRS-500 about a week after it's release (in the US), and have read somewhere in the region of 1000+ books on it. I love reading 'real' books, and have 750+ kicking around at home. Overall I'm exceptionally happy with the PRS-500, and have been toying with the 505 - a UK version (at sensible price) may push me into doing so.
- Ideal when travelling (I spend >50% of my time away from home, and read 2-3 books a week - a lot of paper)
- Excellent contrast: easy to read, in fact easier the sunnier it gets, whilst still not bad with a torch.
- Not too much wasted real-estate: (on the 500, the 505 IMHO wastes too much - I prefer the look/feel of the 500 physically)
- Battery: lasts around 2200 page turns for me
- Supported media: RTF and TXT - allow me to read pretty much anything I acquire, although some backend processing may be required first
- USB Charging
- Reading in bed: I can just prop the reader up without worrying about losing my page.
- Page history: Related to the last, it keeps track of what page you were reading - no more losing your place.
- Geek-chic: May or may not be a pro, but I've had _lots_ of people asking about it when I've been on trains, buses, planes, etc.
- Sturdy: I've banged it around, fallen on it, dropped it from 6+ feet, it's been rained and snowed on, and it's still happily working.
- Font size: You can cycle through 3 different font sizes, useful for when eyes are tired etc. However, if you're reading an RTF, font size 8 is not trivial to read even on the highest setting - I tend to convert my RTFs to font 12+.
- Just a reader: This is just an eBook reader and not a massively multifunction device. Which is what I want. For anything more I'd just get my laptop out.
- Battery: Would be nice to be able to swap in/out some AAA batteries. plus as noted above, the battery does run down over time when not in use.
- PDF: Whilst supported, really doesn't work well. I normally do a copy/paste of any PDF into a txt or rtf, which I then put on my device
- DRM: DRM sucks. I refuse to buy anything (book, music, video) which I will not be able to play in 5 years time because the standards have changed. But, that said, there are lots of non-DRM resources out there, legal and, ahem, less legal.
- Page refresh: This really isn't a problem when reading a book. However, when you have a few hundred books on the device, and have to flick through the list of them to find the one you want, ... which brings me to...
- Seeking: There's no way to go to page X in a book, or page Y in the list of books. The 1-10 buttons only put you a % of the way through. Completely destroys usability for textbooks etc IMHO. I believe this may have been fixed with the 505.
- Sony bookstore: Firstly, you need a US credit card. Including to get th 50USD initially 'included'. Secondly, the books are all DRMed. Thirdly, whilst some books are very cheap, others are waaaaay more expensive than a hardback - that's inexcusable.
- Size: It's a bit too large to fit in a pocket. Not a major complaint.
- Price: 300USD (as it is now) is expensive, but not too much so. However, if Sony think they can sell this for 300GBP then they're in for a shock.
In summary, I think it's an excellent device. A bit niche, yes, and a bit expensive, but fantastic for people who travel a lot. The paid-for ebooks are pretty nice, but DRM is a pain. SD card support is cool, but does drain the battery a bit. Supported formats are sufficient, especially if you're willing to do a bit of preprocessing of downloaded books. I've tried reading on other devices, mobile phones, etc, and they're in a different, vastly below, league.
nail on head!
"...The problem with this device like everything these days is Longevity, Sony will want to sell you another one next year, so this one is poor, And that is the reason I will not buy one..."
exactly! - in my collection i have books ranging from those published in the last year to ones from back to the 1940s and earlier. their technology works every bit as well today as it did when they were first made and if one 'breaks' i can fix it with a bit of cellotape. the same cannot be said for any hi-tech gadget more three or four years old, that i own.
buying one of these e-readers at this stage in their development as a technology is as daft as buying one of those early mobile phones [which came attached to a suitcase] back in the 1980's - you may think you look cool with it now, but in a few years time it's going to be an over-priced, clunky embarrassment, stuck in the back of a cupboard somewhere.
make it under £50, treble the battery life, build it half as thick and flexible and i'll buy one in a heartbeat - but not yet
Greedy media owners
The trouble is, as usual, the greedy media owners are taking the mick. The eBooks for this cost nearly as much as the paper version. So, lets get this right. They have cut out all printing, distribution and retail supply costs, but still want the same money for the product. Erm, right.
Don't give me the "well, you're getting the same content" argument either. The author's cut is lost in the noise with the traditional retail supply chain.
The ridiculous cost of the files is the main reason eBook readers have not taken off. Okay, there is free content, but people want to read the best seller list and other copyrighted material.
I think this is all a great idea. However, if they want to make eBooks a compelling and desirable product then they have to make the media much cheaper.