Sony Reader PRS-350 Pocket Edition
Sony shows the rest how it's done
Review You may recall that I wasn't very impressed with Samsung's E60 e-book reader. Sony's new Reader Pocket Edition is a very different page out of the book.
Sony's Reader Pocket Edition PRS-350: the acme of e-book readers?
Where the E60 is thick, the Reader is thin - and weighs a mere 155g. The E60 is clad in plastic, the Reader is armoured in aluminium. Both have a stylus and a tap-detecting screen, but where the stylus is mandatory on the E-60, the Reader can be controlled using the tip of your finger.
To be fair to Samsung, the E60, which was unveiled in January but has only now started to ship over here, is last year's tech, and I'm sure it'll do better second time round. Sony, by contrast, has been making e-book readers for years, and it shows.
The skinny gadget is compact and feels solid - helped by said metal exterior. The inclusion of the touchscreen has allowed Sony to dispense with many of the buttons and keys it put on previous models. So there's a slim line of keys on the front - for page turning, going to the home screen, a zoom key and an Options button.
The power control is on the top - the stylus is tucked into the corner
There's a power slider on top; the stylus is tucked into a slot on the right side; the base is home to a micro USB port and a recessed reset switch.
ePub is widely supported
The ePub format is a standard. So if your reader supports it, you can buy or borrow DRM'd eBooks from anywhere that sells/lends them in your country.
The crazy thing with Amazon is that the publishers supply the books in ePub and then Amazon has to convert them to Kindle!
One other thing, ePub is a much more modern and versatile format. It handles graphics and tables better. Compare a Kindle book with illustrations and tables with the ePub version to see the difference.
However, I guess this is more a battle of the DRM's than the actual underlying format. It's a pity the actual book format couldn't be DRM agnostic. We might get somewhere towards a single standard then.
I really, really wanted to like this
But when it got to the point of mentioning that you need special software from Sony and have to ask Adobe nicely simply to put an unprotected PDF (even one I made myself) onto the device in a readable format, I decided I couldn't buy it. (PDF is an ISO standard - Adobe do not own it!)
- The alternative Calibre software is interesting, but it still means I can't simply plug my eReader into a computer, copy the PDF onto it and have it work - which I do a *lot* with system drawings.
(Not to mention that Sony have repeatedly proven willing and able to wilfully disable 3rd-party functionality, so I can't trust them not to do that again.)
At some point the manufacturers of these eBook readers need to realise that their foolish insistence on ridiculous DRM is badly damaging their market.
I know one person who's got a Kindle (she bought it before Amazon broke into hundreds of houses and stole a book out of them), and fifteen who'd really like one if it wasn't so badly castrated by ill-conceived 'protection'.
I fly a lot on business, and I really want an eBook reader - it should be great for books on the flight, taxi, hotel, and manuals on-site as it should be much faster to start up and load the relevant document than my laptop.
But Amazon have proved they can take back a purchased work without asking (and therefore can be compelled to do so by the courts), and also decided to rely on their own proprietary format (so I can't borrow from my library), and Sony have decided that they won't allow me to read my *own* documentation without additional software (and asking Adobe).
Not to mention that the prices for an eBook are still astronomical and appear to be bound to the brand of device (if not a specific unit) - so not only am I forced to buy my next device from the same people, but if they decide to stop supporting that model, go out of business or get taken over I lose everything.
So that leaves me with no product I can trust.
Well, Apple plays by their own rules.
I guess Apple has extended the DRM so books only open on an Apple device. Only one thing worse than lock in and that's double lock in.
Jobs is quite happy for iPad users to leverage Amazon though. Two faced or what.