For a few years I’ve been watching the slowly emerging Electronic Bookreader technology mature and take it’s first steps. Sony has had a very nice reader out for a while, but it has some shortcomings and I was hesitant to purchase one. eInk is a new display technology that mimics paper. It requires no power to hold the display, only to change pages. It requires a light to read in the dark just like pBooks. I waited for something better to be released. After a long wait there are a couple of newcomers to the market that I considered – the Amazon Kindle and the new Sony PRS505 readers.

The Kindle has a lot of nice feature, but the biggest is the free integrated EVDO connection to their store. It has a membrane keyboard for searching and a scroll wheel. The styling is not my cup of tea.

Amazon Kindle Reader

The Sony 505 looks really nice and the improvements over the first generation device are very good. You use a PC to download from the Sony Connect store and then sync your reader with the PC. They currently have an offer for 100 freeĀ  public domain classics.

Sony PRS505 Reader

The Kindle is more expensive and has a lot of features that I don’t need or already carry around. The Sony has a better display (8 shades of gray vs 4) and I like the styling. I’ve been saving up BestBuy gift cards for over a year and finally decided to treat myself to a belated Christmas, birthday, and thank you gift (OK, zero out of pocket cost was the big factor). I bought a Sony!

I really like the experience of the bookreader. It’s the size of a really thin paper back and I can carry hundreds of books (music and photos too) around with me. It’s very easy to read and there are tons of places to download (legally) free books. There is also software to convert formats. There are a few things I dislike about the Sony. First and worst are the slow menus. Long books like the Bible take forever to load (10+ seconds for a button press response in the menus). Second, I wish the right hand Next Page button was larger and easier to find without looking. This is bothering me less as I use it more though. Kindle users are complaining about the opposite problem (buttons too big – inadvertent page flips) so I guess there must be a balance in there somewhere. The actual reading experience is great on the Sony.

Hopefully book publishers can figure out how to sell their books in electronic formats. Having Amazon jump in is a big plus if they can offer other DRM’d formats.

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