Test Drivers Not-So-Quick Startup of Sony Reading

Used by permission of Sony Electronics IncFirst, Brandyllyn received her Sony 505 for the Smart Bitches Test Drive, and was so moved with the joy, she got all comic on our asses. Not Comic Sans, thank the baby Cthulu.

1J-505.JPG (click for popup of larger size).

Brandyllyn is also keeping a blog wherein she writes a bit about the Sony Test Drive and will be adding more comics (YES!).

Second, and I laughed my behind off at this photo essay: Tami has the same reaction I did to the “quick start guide,” but her joy is palpable.

I created an email loop for the Test Drivers to talk to one another, and the experiences they’ve had as they have worked on their Sonys are very revealing about why there’s a big difference between the Kindle and the Sony.

- One user had two days of trouble with compatibility issues with Vista 64 and the Sony bookstore software, which was finally resolved when (a) Windows allowed her to uninstall the software completely and then reinstall it and (b) she vented mightily to the loop. Tami’s expression at the “quick start guide” is a dead-on summary of how much of a learning curve there is for the Sony, and it’s a challenge for anyone who isn’t extremely tech-savvy sometimes to figure out how to make the device work, how to load it, and how to organize the books on it.

While the Kindle instructions are:  “Open box. Turn on. Buy books. Read,” the Sony instructions are incredibly complex by comparison – which is why Calibre is so amazing since the interface is so simple.

My advice to the Test Drivers who are just starting out has been to install Calibre, plug in the Sony, and try a book from one of the DRM-free publishers out there – because the process of installing the Sony Bookstore, then possibly figuring out which format from any other vendor aside from Sony itself, can be so frustrating that it’s best to start super simple. Thank God there’s DRM free publishers out there.

That said, I still love the Sony devices, because they allow users to price-compare and shop in other venues, and they allow users to hook up to the many public libraries that offer digital downloads. Kindle may be simple in the “quick start” department, but my experience also “quick started” my frustration and heartburn with their exclusivity and the limited download availability of books “purchased” from Amazon for the Kindle. I’m still a Sony fan. I just wish they were easier to use.

I’m sure the Test Drivers do, too!


General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Alex Nash says:

    Although lot of people have been lauding the Kindle, I recently decided to go with the Sony PRS-505 instead. Yes, the Kindle has built-in EVDO access, and the ability to buy books without a computer, or even browse the web; and yes, the Sony has once again demonstrated it can’t create a compelling 21st century computer application to save its life.

    its thinner
    it looks elegant
    it’s cheaper
    and it has open source support

    What else we need…lol, it rockssssssss

  2. 2
    MamaNice says:

    Maybe it’s because my superman-of-computers husband set up my system so well, but I had zero issues installing all the 505 stuff by myself (knock on pressed particle board). I didn’t have to cry for help once…yet. I found the e-store to be similar to itunes, actually the whole computer/gadget side of the e-book process has been similar to an ipod for me.

    I’ll probably run into some type of fankle before my test drive is over…but I have y’all to help me out!

    Oh, and the husband too. He grumbles, but I think he enjoys playing hero to my damsel in e-stress.

    My v-word “costs89” I wish it was that cheap!!!!

  3. 3
    Mary G says:

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s had no issues Mamanice – I was starting to think I was the lone trouble-free freak :)

    No trouble receiving it, didn’t bother with the instructions, just hooked it up and installed the software, picked some books and was good to go.

    That said: I do have one severe gripe with the device – no backlight or contrast dimmer/brightener. I have to majorly increase the text size to be able to read clearly… and damn but that makes me feel OLD.

  4. 4
    Terry Odell says:

    Haven’t abandoned my eBookwise yet (cost being a major factor, backlight another), but I saw something recently about a “Cool-er” reader. Wondered if anyone here knew more. 

    At least the options are expanding.

  5. 5
    Sabrina says:

    Great post! As a fellow test driver, I have to say I didn’t run into any real issues getting the Sony Reader set up. It did make me install twice when it discovered there was an updated version available (why would they send a disc with an older version?).

    I LOVE Brandyllyn’s comics and how freakin awesome is the name Johnny 5? Wish I had thought of that one!

  6. 6
    Jess B. says:

    I also had an easier start than some of my fellow testers, and I agree with MamaNice about the ebook store – it does have a distinct iTunes feel that makes browsing easy.

    I’m really loving the reader so far, and I really need to start posting some of my initial thoughts to the loop.

    @Terry Odell: check out this Gizmodo review for the Cool-er – http://gizmodo.com/5271551/cool+er-ebook-reader-review  Final thoughts seem to be that it is cheaper than it’s competitors in every way, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  7. 7
    Lisa J says:

    My set up was easy, too.  I’m not particularly techie, but I didn’t have any trouble.  I haven’t set up Calibre yet and so far no problems with the library software.

  8. 8
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    I’m watching with interest, as a Sony Reader is high on my Christmas list. A couple of winners have Twittered about theirs; one said it took her longer to unfold and refold the instructions than it did to do the set up.

  9. 9
    Elizabeth Krentz-Wee says:

    I’m still awaiting my test reader. Being impatient, I’d already installed the Sony reader software on my laptop. It was easy to import some DRM-free books I’d bought from Fictionwise, though I am sorry to see fewer and fewer listed there. It was easy to add 30+ books to the Reader software on the PC; I’m crossing my fingers that the 700 itself will work as easily.

  10. 10
    joykenn says:

    Well, I drank the Kindle-aid before the new one came out and I must say it was especially nice to open box, plug in and read.  No set up or downloading software.  Instant gratification is NICE!  That said, whether you go the Sony route, the Cool-er route or Kindle I suspect we’ll see a lot more free-standing ebook readers soon.  My smartphone is just too small to read a book on. 

    I particularly love being able to carry around lots and lots of books.  Now if they’ll get rid of that silly DRM I’d be a happy camper.  I have never stolen an ebook nor encountered anyone who has.  Am I just innocent or the majority?  I don’t know but I know the hassles of DRM cause a lot problems with very little effect on the bottom line.  I say MORE EBOOKS AT MODERATE PRICES.  MORE OLDER EBOOKS.  I want to buy lots and lots of La Nora to carry around with me.  I want lots and lots of my keepers in ebook format.  If I discover a new book in a series, I absolutely want the others in the series in eformat.  It is maddening to find book 3 and book 1 of a trilogy but not book 2! (When I rule the world, it shall be done!)  ;-)

  11. 11
    Tina C. says:

    Once I actually received my Sony 505—there was a verbal bitchslap handed down to the Post Office which had


    my Reader.  Said bitchslap inspired them to find it the very same day!—I haven’t had a single problem.  Having followed “When Sony Met Vista64” on the Reader email loop, I knew to not even wave the included start-up disk in my computer’s general direction.  Instead, I downloaded the appropriate software directly from sony.com.  I haven’t set up Calibre because I haven’t had a bit of problem with Sony’s Library—even when it came to moving ebooks already on my computer over to the Reader.  So far, so good. *knocks wood*

  12. 12
    Marianne McA says:

    I’m about as far from tech-savvy as it’s possible to get: I once borrowed my daughter’s mobile phone and was thwarted in my desire to phone someone by a total inability to work out how to turn it on.  But I found the quick start instructions fine (perhaps the UK ones are different?) and I’ve used the thing Calibre-less for almost a year, without any problems.
    Kindle may well simpler – we don’t have it over here yet – but the Sony isn’t that complicated.

  13. 13
    nikkie says:

    My test reader is here.  It has been decided that this is Fred since my netbook is Ned and my desktop is Ted.

    The reader arrived Monday when I was off being a good Girl Scout leader and I had to work weird hours yesterday so I’m just now getting to the toy, which is plugged in and getting ready to face the day.  I’ve played on the Sony book site and have some stuff sitting in my checkout basket but it won’t let me go any farther.  I’m thinking it’s a memory thing since Ted is 8 years old and wasn’t that powerful even then.

    I love the leather cover it comes in.  If Fred were mine he would be down at the local engraving shop where the laser engraver could put a pretty picture on it.

  14. 14
    Melissa S. says:

    I’m glad to see all the enjoyment from the test drivers especially the PRS700 folks since I have one and his name is Chuckie. He’s six months old.

    I didn’t have a problem when I did the set up in all actuality the annoying part was having to wait for it to charge up.

  15. 15
    ev says:

    That said: I do have one severe gripe with the device – no backlight or contrast dimmer/brightener. I have to majorly increase the text size to be able to read clearly… and damn but that makes me feel OLD.

    If you keep the 505 they make a bookcover with a light in it that works great.It does add a little weight to it, but hubby loves his as it allows him to read at night in the car, while I do the driving. (I am beginning to think his excuse of not being able to drive at night is a big, fat lie.)

  16. 16
    ev says:

    I just picked up a new red 505 at the Sony store in Burlington Mall in MA while I was at readercon. It had been the display in a locked window case, so no one had even played with it. They had just taken it out of the window and put it up for sale. $135 and they gave me 50% off the lighted cover for it too. I never have that kind of luck.

  17. 17
    liz m says:

    Sony store. Huge. Why did I never look at one? We even have one. Duh me.

    Anyway, my test drive started with no problem, beyond the inability to use the store until the mac software hits. I’m going to try it out on a windows machine this weekend.

  18. 18
    HGH says:

    Thanks for the wonderful information- just wondering if anyone else has had any relevant experiences to share

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