Nothing has been sacrificed in the build quality, with the Pocket having the same robust and attractive aluminium case as the Touch complete with ersatz book spine on the left and profile taper on the right.
There's no memory expansion slot on this model
Comparing the technically identical in all but screen-size Touch and Pocket side by side, it has to be said that the contrast of the 5in unit is superior. The 12 months that passed between us using the original Reader and the new Touch obscured the difference in contrast between the touch-sensitive and non-touch sensitive versions of E Ink's e-paper screen, but it was more obvious when we placed the Touch and Pocket next to each other.
Not that we are changing our opinion about the legibility of the Touch's screen - it does the job and is eminently fit for purpose - it's just that, on balance, we prefer the lighter grey background of the Pocket's screen.
Out of the box and in the hand, the 5in display looks smaller than you might expect it to from a glance at the numerical dimensions or at product images. The upside is that the Pocket also feels smaller in the hand than those same dimensions and pictures suggest, making it a very comfortable one-handed read. The device is also very easy to slip into a coat or jacket pocket.
The reduced screen size doesn't have any impact on the readability of ePub or BBeB text, which can be viewed at the same size as it can on the 6in screen - there's just less of it on each page. PDF files are more problematic as the formatting suffers when you zoom in from a whole page view with letters being orphaned at the end of sentences and paragraph returns arranging themselves rather randomly.
Again, standard mini USB is used for charging and data transfer
Size issues apart, the the most obvious differences between the Pocket and the Touch are the absence of anything in the way of storage expansion and the lack of a music player, both present on the more pricey model. These both seem rather strange omissions to us.
Ebooks not where they should be
The DRM is probably the biggest blight on ebook consumers right now. Though some publishers are starting to figure out what the RIAA finally admitted about DRM - that people don't like it - they aren't enough and the amount of ebooks they offer in DRM free formats isn't yet enough either. There are horror stories of publishers going bust/offline, taking the validation services with them and users being locked out of their content indefinitely.
I think that the retail publishers are also in a tight spot - being forced to secure their products with DRM or expose themselves to litigation. It seems to be a deeper stemming problem than bull-headed online ebook brokerages. Other than attacking publishers' bottom line (I'm talking about boycotting, not stealing), I don't see any other way to communicate dissatisfaction with DRM, sadly.
A compromise is that secured epub files can easily have the DRM stripped by a few simple python scripts.
Way to miss the entire point of a technology.
As has been pointed out, there are many reason not to buy electronic books right now -- mainly cost and licensing issues, though they are still a little bulky too.
However, the idea of an electronic book is exactly what it says -- these things designed not to make your eyes hurt after an hour of reading as a laptop or phone would, they are designed to (eventually) replace paper books and, ignoring the points mentioned above, they do this pretty well.
I am sure it will be possible, in the future, to have a device which does "everything" but, at present, the technology simply does not exist. Unless, of course, you know of a device with a paper-like reading experience in colour with a refresh rate which allows it to display video?
For the eInk screen. A screen suitable for comfortable book reading is mutually exclusive with a screen suitable for video watching and gaming, or as a camera viewfinder.
For the size. A size comfortable for book reading is too large to conveniently carry as a phone or music player.
For the battery life. A device that must maintain a constant wireless connection or run background processes will drain the battery so much faster that a heavy compromise must be made on either battery life or device size or weight, compared to a dedicated book reading device.
I would very much like to own an eBook reader, and am not even particularly bothered by the cost of the device. The cost of the books, on the other hand, is still completely unacceptable. Until they become available for less than I can buy them online in paperback form, it's just not going to happen.
Reading a book on an LCD screen is painful. Reading it on an eInk screen is a joy, I've sat and read straight through a complete book on my 505 with no more break than it takes to pour another glass of wine occasionally.
However, eInk screens are one trick ponies. They are slow to update, and have a limited lifespan. So using the device for anything else makes no sense, with the possible exception of playing music.
In this case, I'd say convergence is not what it is all about. The eInk readers do one job so very well that having them dedicated to the task is fine.
I have an iPhone on which I read books (mostly PDFs), and the 3" screen is just way too small to be of any use for long reading sessions. And god forbid if the pdf has any screenshots or diagrams in it - to get them readable I can't fit the entire diagram on the screen.
Then there is the fact that sometimes I just want to LEAVE A PAGE OPEN and let it sit there, without running down my battery, without having my security screen saver kick in, without the backlight going off...just like I would with a real book. This is particularly true when using learning books - I would love to have my pdf of Blender training open next to me whilst I manipulated Blender in fullscreen mode...again, just like a book. Instead I am forced to juggle windows around and jump back and forth - or find desk real-estate for a second monitor.
I don't own an e-reader yet, but I wish I had caught the sale at Play.com on the 505. If anyone sees it on sale, please post to this thread...