How to hack a Sony Reader
Inside the Linux-based e-book viewer
Amazon’s Kindle receives plenty of publicity, but it’s only available in the US. Book buffs elsewhere have to content themselves with other e-book readers, of which one of the most popular is the Sony Reader. The PRS-505 is available from High Street stores like John Lewis and Waterstones, making it one of the more visible devices at the moment.
Sony's PRS-505: eminently hackable, thanks to its Linux foundations
It’s also comparatively easy to tweak and hack, thanks to the way it’s designed. The core operating system is MontaVista Linux, and though the speed of response of the e-ink screen and the lack of a full keyboard means that you can’t really use it as a general purpose computer, there is a fair bit that you can do with it.
Some is simple customisation: you can change the fonts, icons and logos, or add your name and contact details to the About screen, for example. Buttons can be reassigned, or disabled too, so if you prefer to shut the Reader down rather then send it to sleep, then you can add that function to an easily accessible key, instead of having to work through a few menus to find it.
When a memory card is inserted in the reader, it’s scanned by the operating system. As well as looking for books, the folder
/Sony Reader/software is checked for an
Yep, temptation won in the end.
I bought one of the Sony readers recently because it clearly now does a little more than when first released and there is so much material to read. And it seems there are people dedicated to removing the defective-by-design DRM from protected books so many of those can be had free too. But of course if the publishers would make eBooks a little cheaper then buying them would feel less of a rip-off.
Now, all I need is to find time to live, work and sleep in between reading and I'm all set!
@ Well, pretty much everybody
I've had a PRS505 ever since they went on sale in the UK, being both a book buff (whatever one of those is) and a lover of gadgetry in all its forms.
Several points spring to mind:
1) As has been said, when travelling, one PRS505 is way more portable than even a couple of paperbacks. Compared to the 5 or 6 paperbacks I used to carry, it's no contest, and the electronic version allows even more variety. Battery life is good for 2 week trips without a recharge, even when spending hours every evening in hotel rooms reading.
2) The price. I paid £200 for mine. However, I have read well over 100 free books on it, there's a huge amount of copyright free classic stuff out there for free download. As these are all out of copyright, they would normally retail at £2-3 in paperback, so the device has paid for itself and more, and has expended my reading as a bonus.
3) The scope. There's a load of stuff out there for download that is out of print, or never made it into print in the first place. I've found loads of stuff from the golden age of Science Fiction, for example, all out of copyright and freely available. One day I might buy a book for download, but I doubt it will happen any time soon.
The lack of depreciation despite there being no stock shortage should be the clue. These are deeply gorgeous machines (let down, as ever, by the shite supporting software - pull your finger out, Sony....).
@Gerard Krupa: re PDFs
If your reader isn't rendering PDFs well, make sure you're running the latest firmware. I agree that the firmware that shipped with my 505 was hopeless on PDFs, but since getting the new firmware I read quite a bit in PDFs and it's totally fine.
Since PDF is a page-description format, it's really not suitable for ebooks, and it's foolish for people to publish ebooks as PDFs, but if that's all you have, then reflowing like the new firmware does is about the best that can be done.
home insurance clain? or some such similar insurance prod to replace rather than repair?
i wouldn't mind one of these but i'm a habitual late-adopter.. mostly due to financial constraints.. and i might never put the thing down if i had one and that might be a bad thing.
i liked the article and it's light approach as an intro on how-to etc. well written, more of this please Monsenior El Vulture.. this is much better than the bash-the-government-for-yet-another-software-snafu stuff.. :)