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
Sony Pocket: We’ve already been introduced.
Sony Touch: Hayadoin?
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.
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:
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.