The Sony Daily Edition: a Drive-By Review

image Yesterday I went to the mall to return a sweater and found myself fondling digital readers. It’s really quite risky to take me anywhere, I suppose.

Me: Oooh. Sony Style store. Forgot this mall had one of those.

Sony Style Store: Look! The Readers are right inside the door front and center. Come and feel the sleek power of my sexy

Me: Ok!

Sony Pocket: We’ve already been introduced.

Me: Yup.

Sony Touch: Hayadoin?

Me: Good.

Sony Daily Edition: Hey baby, wanna stroke my beard?

Me: Oh, yes, I do.

Me: Hmmm. Hmmmmmm.

Sony Daily: Didja see the spiffy home screen layout?

Me: Yup. Pretty damn nice. The covers all line up and I can view by cover or by title as text, and my last-read title is all big and huge up at the top.

Sony Daily: Hey, want to visit the store?

Me: Yes, I do. But if I touch the store button, then load the store, I get an automatic sequence that takes me through buying a Nicholas Sparks book, and asks if I’m sure if I want to purchase it. I didn’t even touch the screen!

Sony Daily: Uhhhh.

Me: Major bummer.

Store rep: Can I help you?

Me: Yes, why am I being asked to buy a book over and over while I’m not touching the screen? Is this actually hooked to the Sony ebookstore now?

Store rep: No, it’s not. It’s a demo sequence.

Me: So I can’t actually shop for books.

Store rep: No, you can’t.

Me: Can I purchase a Daily Edition today?

Store representative: No, you can’t. It’s not available until mid-January. We don’t have any in the store.

Me: Major bummer.

Store rep: Is there anything confusing about it?

Me: (that is a strange question) No, but I’m pretty familiar with the layout.

Store rep: Is there anything you find confusing?

Me: (again with the confusion – are they trying to seed my impressionable mind with buzzwords to describe something?) No, not really. Thanks.

Store rep: Let me know if you have any questions.

Another customer: Can you help me with the Touch one?

Store rep: Yes, what can I help you with?

Customer: I received a Pocket for Christmas but wasn’t sure whether that’s the one I wanted because the buttons are hard to use.

Store rep: Is there something you find confusing about the buttons?

(I SWEAR I AM NOT MAKING ANY OF THIS UP).

Customer: I keep wanting to touch the screen like an iPhone.

Store rep: Well, the Touch has the touch screen.

Customer: Is that the only difference?

Store rep: It also has expandable memory and the touch screen. 

Customer: Huh. Ok. (Rep leaves).

Sony Daily Edition: TOUCH ME BABY TOUCH ME.

Me: Ok, Daily Edition, let’s read a sample book that’s already on here. Do I want Nicholas Sparks or Gena Showalter? Duh.

Gena’s book doesn’t look bad, and I can make the text size absolutely HUGE, but … that touch screen. I wish I could bump up the contrast.

Sony Daily Edition: Sorry, that’s not an enabled feature.

Me: Major bummer.

So, my review in a nutshell: that touch screen is still not my friend. My biggest problem with the 700 and the Sony Touch is that the coating on the touch screen, while it is sexy to use, degrades the quality of the text such that I need better light in order to read on it. I was reading on the Sony Touch over the weekend (review to come) and found myself tilting the screen to move it out of the sun, toward the light fixture but not directly beneath the light bulb – it was ridiculous.

The same is true of the Daily edition: I tilted it in the store away from the Reader booth light fixtures, but not so much that I caught the reflection of the mall behind me… that coating for the touch interaction is just monster poor.

And it’s tall. Like, Venti-sized book tall.

image

On the left is the Sony Touch, and on the right is the daily. It’s balanced well and you can hold it in one hand, but it’s a big tall thing.

Also, see what I mean about the light reflection and the muddy quality? It’s almost as if the edges of every letter, every word are just a little blurry, and after awhile, I feel that strain in my eyeballs – but then, I’m cross-eyed so focusing for me is an exercise that requires so many muscles moving in extra amounts that I should burn way more calories for reading than I actually do. As I flipped pages on the Daily, I found myself wishing, much like I do with the Touch and the 700, that I could increase the contrast so as to make the text darker against the background color. A few degrees of better contrast would make such a difference, but alas, it’s not an option.

I don’t think the price point for the device makes up for the screen quality and the visual fuzziness of the text. Here’s a side by side of the Daily and the Kindle II:

image (Click for larger, clearer image.)

See what I mean? It’s almost as if it’s not quite in focus – and from my experience reading on the 700 I know that after awhile, that slight out-of-focus quality drives me nuts and hurts my head.

My initial reaction: neat, glad it’s wireless, but the touchscreen makes the shiny new toy very muddy indeed. I’d still stick with Kindle II, or a Pocket version, for the clarity of the reading.

But when I’m asked which digital reader I would select for someone else, the answer varies. Ultimately, selecting a digital reader right now is about deciding which features you desire, and which desires you are willing to compromise. Really. No single reader knocks the experience out of the park, and it’s disappointing to say so. Kindle has ease of loading, a bonehead simple purchasing process, clear screen and note taking features, but a complete fail of file organization. I have been reading more and more on Kindle II, even without the file organization (which I SO MISS OMG. File management on the Kindle? Pah. It’s like organizing my books in the order determined by a teenage boy’s sock drawer), because the visual text on the screen is so much clearer for me, and the loading of a document is far, far easier.

The Nook… oh, I shake my head at the poor Nook. It is so slow, so confusing, so full of fail flower. More on Sir Nook soon.

The Sony Pocket has the clear screen quality and the file organization without the file expansion. The Touch has the file organization and file expansion, but fuzzy screen quality. The Daily, same thing, plus wireless. I don’t think the wireless makes up for the screen, and I don’t think it’s worth paying $400+ for. And given the hoops I’ve jumped through to get books onto the Sony Readers, I can’t recommend them to anyone who isn’t particularly computer savvy or at least comfortable with a laptop or desktop computer system.

I wish digital reading weren’t all about compromise, but alas, right now, you pick the features you can’t live without, and wish you had the others you like.

Categorized:

General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    addictedtolurv says:

    i want a ereader so bad because most of the books i read are ebooks because im waaaaaaaaay too lazy to actually get in the car and go to the book store. and then when i do you have the check-out guys giving you the stink eye because the cover of the book has giant man-titty in the front. but i digress…

    i want an ereader for my collection of ebooks but from my research, the ereaders out right now seem to only let you download and read books you buy from their store. Kindle is amazon only, nook is barnes and noble only, etc…  while that is all well and good for them I find myself wanting a reader that will not only let me buy books buy upload my exsisting ones! the ipod touch i have does that but the screen is the size of the palm of my hand and i hate that i have to either strain my eyes to read a page or make the text bigger and read a sentence before having to flip a page. GRRRRRRRRRRR…..

    so anyone know of a ereader out there that is big enough for me to read a page without getting a migraine but has the ability to let me upload my already bought ebooks?

  2. 2
    Evamaria says:

    Having just spent the morning surfing around for an ereader, this post seems like just another sign for “GO BUY ONE ALREADY!” *g*

    I’m currently thinking about getting a BeBook, because it’s apparently quite good at displaying .pdf files. Anyone have experiences with that?

  3. 3

    Interesting analysis, and I agree—find the feature you want most, and prioritize that.  I wanted the lightweight portability and small size of the Sony Pocket more than I wanted other features on other readers.  Is it perfect?  No, but it’s got what I had at the top of my needs list.

  4. 4
    Miranda says:

    I too have been lusting after the ereaders but hesistate. The technology is developing so quickly, I am sure my purchase will be outdated within 6 months. *Rumors of an apple tablet/ereader dance around my head*

    My laptop works for now, but sooo not convenient. To bid my time, I am thinking that I will spend the $11 to update my ipod touch and deal with the small screen.

  5. 5
    addictedtolurv says:

    @Miranda: dont do that! what did your eyes ever do to you to bear that sort of punishment! lol

    im telling you…reading books on the ipod touch has to be one of dante’s inferno’s levels of hell…

  6. 6
    Miranda says:

    @addictedtolurv: HA! Dante is pretty up to date on the technological torture huh? :D You do sounds like the voice of reason though. I shall wait with bated breath to win an ebook reader or for money to fall out of the sky ;)

  7. 7
    ghn says:

    @evamaria
    I have a Bebook, and I am very happy with that. I haven’t tried it with a pdf file, mainly because I haven’t any in that format, but I did try a file in that format on my previous reader (a Cybook gen 3). It didn’t display properly there, mainly because it insisted on displaying wide, wide margins, and text you needed a microscope to read.

    The Bebook has nice and clear instructions on the website on how to display pdf files properly on the device, so that shouldn’t be a big problem. I have not had any problem following the other technical instructions on the site (about software updates) so implementing that one shouldn’t be a problem either if I should need to read a pdf file.

  8. 8
    Nicole says:

    So basically it looks like I’m going to be quite happy with my Sony 505 for awhile.  I can’t believe they took out the expandability for the Pocket version.

  9. 9
    Evamaria says:

    @ghn Pretty much all my ebooks so far are .pdf because so far I’ve been reading on my laptop – but it’s good to know that you’re happy with the Bebook. I just wish I could find it in a store somewhere, so I could actually handle it before spending the money…

  10. 10
    addictedtolurv says:

    @Miranda: yup…didnt you know he rose from the grave just to update his book? lmao just try it and see if you dont believe me..i was just trying to save you the cost of another touch since after a few minutes trying to read off it youwill throw it against the wall in frustration. the text is a little better if you read widescreen but not by much.

    if i can find an ereader that i can put an application to read pdf and lit files that would be the cat’s MEOW to me! however technology tends to hate me and i’ve been known to crash devices, computers, phones by merely walking by them. so my ereader has to also be sturdy…very sturdy.

  11. 11
    Shawn says:

    Thanks for the reviews.  I have been vaguely tempted, but not enough to sink a ton of money into a reader.  First, I want a reader that gives me the option of a back-lit screen, so I can read in bed at night with lights out so my husband can sleep.  I also want an ereader that is not limited to a single store, but instead will read any and all formats.  Finally, and this is a big one for me … the price of ebooks appears to be higher than the price of paperbacks.  I realize that the epublishers have a lot of hard and soft ware development costs that they need to cover, but I’m cranky having to pay $8 for a paperback as it is (I’m willing to date myself and say I remember when books were $3). 

    Given that I don’t get ANY of the options I truly want, and have to compromise on all the rest of the options to “settle for the lesser of available evils”, I think I’ll just keep waiting and see what develops over the next few years.  I’ve been reading hard copy books for decades now, so I’m not really losing out.

  12. 12
    Thank you says:

    This is a really good review. Thank you for the information!

  13. 13

    Completely agree with your analysis of the Sony Pocket/ Touch- concerning the necessity of being computer savvy. I have the Pocket and I love it but definitely do not love having to plug it in to the computer, upload, and then wait for it all to boot up again. But it is pink… soo…. trade off there.

  14. 14
    Epee says:

    It’s unfortunate about the screen on the Sony because otherwise I’m really interested in getting one.

    Thank you for posting information like this. I was wondering if anyone has used/heard of the Astak reader, which is available on New Egg here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16858242007

    It’s gotten great reviews on New Egg, but I hate buying something without actually SEEING it first hand. This is why I went to BN to look at the Nook and played with the Sony Readers at Best Buy…

  15. 15
    Debbie Q says:

    I await my Nook, which shipped yesterday. I will let you know what I think of it.

  16. 16
    Beau says:

    Just wanted yo say, I have a 700. I waited a really long time to purchase one because of all of the people who complained about the reflection and the blurriness. Basically, I finally got an opportunity to try it personally. I’ve had mine for almost a year (I think) and love it. I don’t find the text bothersome to read, love the integrated light, the touch screen and most importantly to me, the search function.

    I guess what I’m trying to say like Sarah is that the ereader that is “right” for you is a very personal thing. If you’ve never had one before, I think they all have a bit of a learning curve. Research, research, research and if at all possible view in person or purchase from an outlet that will allow you to return it if it really won’t work for you.

    Personally I think figuring out the drm/format thing is the hardest.

  17. 17
    Miranda says:

    Lucky for me, my office has ereaders for loan! I’ve tried the Sony & the Kindle and they just got in the Nook (but I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet).

    The Sony I was able to load pdf files onto… and the Kindle (supposedly) just needed a software update for pdf readability (but since I didn’t own it, I didn’t update it).

  18. 18
    Liz says:

    Hi all, here is a website that converts various formats into your reader’s format: http://www.2epub.com/

    I love my Sony 700.  I almost always read with the integrated light on, though, so that may help with any focus issues.

  19. 19
    Tarah S says:

    I got the first edition kindle for Christmas! (yay yay!) My parents got it off of ebay but its sans instructions.  I thought that would be a bigger problem then it turned out to be with a lil know how and Google I figured it out pretty quickly.  I like it a lot i thought the process of getting it started and such would be difficult, but its user friendly much easier take around then a pile of paperbacks in my messenger bag that I used to do.  At first I wanted the Sony reader rather then the kindle but, there was a smaller amount of choices in there online story then I was expecting plus you cant browse blogs and papers and such like you can with the kindle.  I totally think you guys should get your listed on amazon for people to have it sent to their kindles it’d be cool to be able to stalk you from away from my comp. :P

  20. 20
    diremommy says:

    I got a kindle 2 for christmas, and I love it so much. And while you can only buy books from Amazon, you can put books from other sources onto it. With a handy little program called Callibre you can convert just about any ebook format (that doesn’t have DRM protection) to the mobi format, and Callibre actually sends it right to my Kindle, so long as it is plugged into my computer.

    Sometimes the formatting is a bit funny, I have one book ridiculously spaced (like triple spaced between paragraphs) but I’m still tinkering with that, learning how to fix it how I want.

    I know ereaders can seem pricey, but it’s worth the cost of not knocking myself out with a 1000 page hardback, lmao!

  21. 21
    ghn says:

    @evamaria
    I did try out Bebook’s advice for rendering pdf files usable for the reader: installing a program called CutePDF and basically using that to alter certain parameters in the file, then moving the pdf file to the reader. Frankly, the results weren’t very good. Certainly inferior to the files I usually read (usually PRC). I had better results using a program called Calibre to convert the pdf file I tested to .mobi format. The results were less than optimal, but they were at least readable. Calibre can convert to and from a number of file types, but ONLY files WITHOUT DRM! *strangles rant about DRM*
    Calibre can also be used as an e-book reader and an e-book management tool, but I generally use it only as a conversion tool. Calibre is free, so you can download it and see if you like the results when you convert files.

    Personally, I detest PDF files, but then, tastes vary…

  22. 22
    HeatherK says:

    I have the Sony 505 and adore the thing. I don’t get eyestrain from reading on it at all. It’s extremely clear when it comes to the text. It will also read any adobe (PDF) file I have, no matter where it came from, which is a definite plus. No wireless, but with my poor impulse control, that’s a plus. And the two card slots are quite nice. If it doesn’t come with an expansion slot for more memory, I’m usually not interested.

    I spent the last bit looking at readers because I’d like a second one. I know, I’m a strange one who’s addicted to tech. I’d like something backlit, but not at the expense of text quality. I looked at the Sony Daily because of the wireless (Yes, poor impulse control, but would love to browse the net on it) and the slightly larger screen, but the screen quality and the price tag quickly turned me off of that along with no backlight, since that’s the main feature I was looking for right now.

    I don’t like the look or feel of the Kindle at all. The Nook is interesting, but my Sony looks/sounds better to me. The Cooler ebook readers look like Sony knock offs, IMO. I like a big, crisp screen. Touch would be nice, but not at the expense of screen quality. I just hope the page turn buttons on my 505 don’t wear out on me anytime soon.

    Any suggestions for a good book light that’s not overly expensive to use with the Sony 505? I’ve not yet found one that works very well, and though I like the look of the new cover/light accessory for it from Sony, the $55 price tag is a bit off putting. Not to mention, I usually read it without the cover on because it’s easier to hold.

  23. 23
    Trix says:

    I was totally going to buy the Sony Pocket reader until I found it doesn’t have expandable memory!! Seriously, WTF is up with that? I really don’t care about wireless connectivity – hello, in Australia it’s useless anyway, since you can’t buy books that way from vendors here – but expandable memory just seems like a basic feature these days.

    So, really, I’m waiting for Sony to get their shit together on this one. I don’t want one of the touchscreen models due to the glare problems – I want simple but yet not dorky (and not Amazon).

  24. 24
    Evamaria says:

    @ghn Wow, thanks so very much for going to all that trouble! Seriously, it’s very much appreciated and I’m now reconsidering the Bebook in hopes of finding a reader that’s better with pdf (because I already have quite a number of those and obviously I’d like to read them). Also thanks for the tip with Calibre – they even have a Mac app, so that’s great!

  25. 25
    ghn says:

    @evamaria I have used two other reading devices – the iLiad and the Cybook gen 3, and both of those were worse than the Bebook when it comes to pdfs. If I _must_ read something in that format, I use my computer. Hope you will find a reading device that is able to display them well.

  26. 26
    Jayne says:

    My Sony 505 (which I love) just got bricked by a bad e-arc file. While I’m waiting to send it in to see if the Sony repair people can sprinkle magic pixie dust on it to revive it, I went ahead and bought a new pocket edition Sony. I’m ebook addicted and as I told Jane, it’s awful hard to snuggle into a warm bed and read my 17 inch PC monitor. Glad to hear I picked the right one to buy.

  27. 27

    @Heather—Check out the Sony Accessories at MEdge for lights.  I bought their Latitude Jacket and light for my Sony PRS 300 (Pocket) and I’m very happy with it.

  28. 28
    Las says:

    It’s funny…I’ve only just jumped on the ebook bandwagon within the past 6 months, I’ve been annoyed with all you bloggers blathering on and on and ON about readers all the time and now for the past 2 weeks I’ve been obsessed with getting a reader. (DARN YOU PEOPLE!) I’ve been reading ebooks on my laptop and blackberry (an even smaller screen than the iphone—how’s THAT for dedication!) and I’m ready to move up. I’ve been leaning towards the Nook just because the various Sony versions don’t appeal and I hate that I can’t touch and play around with the Kindle before buying it. Looking forward to your review of the Nook.

    Can anyone point me to a “For Dummies” summary of the various ebook formats and how they apply to the readers? And when I say for Dummies, I’m serious—what the hell is DRM and why is it so complicated? I really hate that I’d be tied to one seller for my ebook purchases so any explanations about conversions and how feasible they are would be greatly appreciated.

  29. 29
    ghn says:

    @las   There is an overview of various ebook formats here, as well as some of the reading devices that can read them:
    http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_formats
    One thing that is not mentioned is that you have a reading device that can read DRMed mobi/prc formatted files, that device cannot at the same time read DRMed epub files, even when the list of formats it can read includes them both. Something to do with rights (not ours, the readers, that is) Files without DRM give no problems.

    As for the why of DRM – the only thing I can think of is to make the lives of us who actually buy these ebooks and want to read them needlessly difficult. I have a huge collection of ebooks, many of which used to have DRM on them. Having to download all those files again every time I get a new reading device (new PC or whatever) is not fun. Assuming I would be able to redownload at all…
    (Been there, done that, got several T-shirts already)

    I have used Calibre for conversion, mostly between epub and mobi, with excellent results. I have also used it to convert pdf files, to other formats, though the results weren’t all that good. I like it a lot for that use – easy to use, handles a lot of formats, and it is free. It can’t handle files with DRM, though.

  30. 30
    Kristina says:

    Oh dear.  I’m within days of purchasing the Sony Touch and now I’m having doubts.  I knew I wasn’t crazy about the no backlight option in case I want to read in the dark or if I’m at the bus stop in the dark (which I very frequently am).  Now the fuzzy quality is another doubt.  I read to the exclusion almost everything else and I wonder if that would bother me after a while.

    Question to Kindle users.  In low-light, twilight-ish.  How is the reading?  When I’m waiting for the bus I can read my paperbacks fine in the street lamp light.  Will I have any problems with the Kindle?

    Oh deary me.  :0)  Decisions, decisions…….

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