Sony e-Reader

A couple of weeks back I started a new series called Dread Empire’s Fall:  The Praxis by Walter Jon Williams.  I sometimes dread starting a new series so I never buy more than the first book just in case it’s not to my liking.  I loved it and wanted to start the next book in the series NOW!

But alas, since it was a Sunday evening after the book stored closed I started thinking about the new electronic books.  In the past I pooh-poohed them for a variety of reasons but it starts to make sense.  I hate moving books and my wife hates my ‘library’ the consumes a large portion of storage.  Rarely do I re-read a book, or if I do it’s a decade later.  In today’s conservation kick it makes sense not to cut down trees if I don’t have to.  Perhaps the biggest reason that sold me is that the ebooks are a couple of dollars cheaper so you read enough and it’ll eventually pay for itself.

So I did some research on my options by calling my cousin.  Everyone needs to have a cousin like mine.  He KNOWS gadgets.  So not only did his wife have a Kindle, but he had a Sony e-Reader and he had an opinion (he always does).  He swore by the e-Reader and he swore AT the Kindle for their interfaces.  Then he said to go check out the authors I wanted to read on both the Sony site and the Kindle site and see which one was better.  For me, Sony won.

So now I have a Sony e-Reader.  It’s not the newest model (same cousin sold his existing one for a new one with a bit better display and interface) but it does the job well.  I’m impressed.  Very impressed and I don’t say that very often.

It takes a little while to get used to the delay on the E-INK screen but after a while you live with it.  The book I’m currently reading has large white text on black background chapter headers and switching to the next page always leaves an afterimage of the block, but again it’s not a big deal.

The e-Reader lets you switch from vertical to horizontal reading and also lets you adjust the size of the typeface.  After playing with the settings I prefer vertical at a large size.  You can view the screen at all angles and there’s not much glare to contend with.

The controls are minimal.  There’s a size button that let’s you change the size of the text on the screen, two separate sets of dedicated page up/down buttons that don’t seem to be in the right spot for me, a mark page button, a menu joystick and allows you to navigate on the screen and a set of 1 through 0 buttons that let you quickly navigate items on the menu’s.  The controls are a little sluggish but I don’t know if it’s from the screen or an underpowered processor.

Compared to the Kindle, the e-Reader seems sparse on the controls, but I think a book reader SHOULD be simple.  You’re replacing a paperback, not a laptop.

The Sony e-Reader plays MP3’s.  I have an iPhone and don’t travel much anymore so this isn’t a selling point and I honestly have no idea on how well it works.

The Sony unit requires a computer to transfer books unlike the Kindle that can do this wirelessly.  Again, since I don’t travel and when I do I generally have my laptop.

What is a problem however is the stupid Windows only software.  Come on, Sony!  Wake up and smell those Mac users you’re pissing off by forcing us to boot up into Parallels or VMWare.  The Windows only software works well enough for me to purchase, download and transfer books but I don’t have to like doing it that way.  (Sony, call me, I’m a developer.)  Books are transferred via a USB cable which is also how you recharge the unit.

I also found http://www.webscription.net/.  There you can find an excellent selection of science fiction authors with a large selection of free books.  Did I say free?

If you read a lot I’d recommend it.  If you travel a lot I’d recommend it.  If you read and travel a lot then you should definitely look into it.  I would have saved a lot of money in airports if I had had this device.

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