Other Media Review

Sony 505 Review: A Report from Anita

Used by permission of Sony Electronics IncMy background in ebook reading is online with my laptop which I don’t like because I can’t get comfy and also with my iPod Touch which is small but allows me to read in bed. I’m looking for something between the two so I jumped at the chance to test drive a Sony eReader.

I received the Sony eReader 505. The whole family stood around and oohed and awhed. The only rule I told them was not to touch it since it didn’t belong to us. Inside the box with the eReader was a folded poster-size pictorial manual, a USB cord, and a CD. When I put the eReader on for the first time, it worked. But the directions said it should be charged so I plugged it in. Now here’s where I have my first problem with the eReader – when you plug it in, you’re not able to use it as it goes into a hibernation mode and the directions say you can’t unplug it until the little red light goes off. Now this sounds straight forward however, it takes several hours to charge. And it’s basically out of service while charging. Of course the wise thing would be to charge it overnight. However, since the device isn’t wireless, you use the same USB cord to upload ebooks. And as soon as the device is plugged in FOR ANY REASON, it goes into hibernation mode. My worst case scenario was when I wanted to upload a couple books before I went on a day trip and as soon as I plugged it in, I realized my mistake. I find it a major inconvenience that it takes hours to charge even when only partially drained.

Once the eReader was fully charged, I put the CD in and downloaded the Sony eBook Library software and I was good to go. I had no trouble inputting the Harlequin Redemption code for their $25 free ebook coupon. The directions to upload to the eReader were clear and with the grab-and-drop technology, very user friendly.

I started reading and over the next few days, posted/tweeted these observations:

#1 – the eReader isn’t backlit. This means I need supplemental lighting to read in bed or when we driving in the dark.  Because hubby is the breadwinner and needs his sleep and doesn’t like any lights on, this became an obstacle to me. My best solution: hold the eReader in my hands while my iTouch lies on my chest with the white flashlight app on. Invariably, I’ve found myself leaving the eReader beside the bed and going back to reading ebooks in my iTouch.

#2 – You can’t successfully search for imprints in the Sony eReader store. IE – I wanted to search for Harlequin books under the HQN imprint. Not only did it list every Harlequin, but it also listed so many books that had nothing to do with Harlequin.

#3 – During my 1st – 2 hr reading stretch, my right hand fell asleep because I was keeping my thumb on the ‘page turner’ button. If I moved my hand to another spot, when it came time to turn the page, I had to look down to check for thumb placement and I’d be taken out of the story. And any good writer knows the last thing you want a reader to do is be taken out of the story.

#4 – It took about 30 mins of reading before I got used to the black and white flash that occurs whenever you advance to the next page. Very disconcerting at first but not for long.

#5 – I was reading in the van one day for almost 20 mins before it dawned on me the sun was shining directly on my ‘page’. Usually I need to read out of direct sunlight. To confirm this, I pulled a print book out and flipped it open. I had to squint to see the words due to the glare and barely read a couple words when my eyes started watering. I wiped my eyes, put the print book away and opened the eReader. Not a problem. Perfect clarity. No glare. No squinting nor tears. Awesome.

#6 – The eReader 505 doesn’t scroll. Even the free eReader Pro app on my iTouch utilizes a scrolling feature so page turning isn’t necessary.

First impressions after reading a couple books on the eReader 505: Very convenient as it fits nicely in my purse, weight is good, looks nice, but I really wish it was backlit so I can read in bed/in a dark car while travelling, etc without supplemental lighting. I wish I could use it while it’s charging. And, I wish I could unplug it if I change my mind about charging it.

Bottom Line at this Point – Would I buy a new Sony eReader 505?:

- Not yet. Because of the aforementioned inconveniences, I would shop around to see what else is on the market first.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Zee says:

    Thank you for the review. It is good to know about those problems. An e-reader isn’t in my budget right now but I was toying with wishing for one for my birthday but the problems you mentioned make this one a no-go for me. I would find the charging issue the most problematic since I am very bad at remembering to plug my technology in (my poor mobile can attest to that).

  2. 2
    MamaNice says:

    I love the no glare in bright sunlight on the 505 too…I am baffled by how long it takes yours to charge – mine loads up pretty fast (30 minutes at the most)…and a time or two, I’ll plug it in just to load some new books and even though it may not have a full charge, I’ll disconnect the reader so I can go.  It’s never been a problem, as long as I disconnect via my e-book library before unplugging it. I always charge it before it gets down to one bar, so maybe that’s it.
    If the computer goes to sleep while the reader is plugged in, it won’t charge and will actually start losing power…is this happening to you perhaps?

    As for the hubby thing, if I need a night time reading fix, I just go down to the couch ;)

  3. 3
    Azure says:

    One way to avoid the whole problem with the USB-charger is to buy a PSP wall charger—it works with the Reader.  It also allows you to read a book while your device is charging, and IIRC, it doesn’t take as long to charge, either.  I bought one very early on—you can find them cheap on eBay.

  4. 4
    Suze says:

    Yeah, the whole can’t use while charging thing is irritating.  My only computer is a laptop, which has its own power issues, so I bought a wall-plug-in cord.

    That red light is a liar, though.  I download books through Calibre, and watch for the red light to go out.  Calibre says the transfer is finished.  It cannot take more than 5 minutes to download a dozen smallish e-books.  WHY does the red light stay on for 20 minutes?

    To be honest, as soon as Calibre says it’s done loading, I eject the reader, and ignore the light.  It’s been working okay so far.

  5. 5
    Diana says:

    #6 – The eReader 505 doesn’t scroll. Even the free eReader Pro app on my iTouch utilizes a scrolling feature so page turning isn’t necessary.

    Good review, but I am glad the 505 has page-turning rather than scrolling.  When I used to read books on my iTouch, I was forever losing my place due to scrolling and, half the time, I’d go from page 30 to page 500 by accident.  ;)

  6. 6
    RachelT says:

    Hi – I only keep my reader connected to my computer as long as it is convenient for me to do so – often just long enough to download a book. It is surprising how this short connection time can boost the battery. I do, however, make sure I disconnect only after I have clicked on the safe to remove hardward icon.  I would like to get a psp wall charger as I understand you can still read while this is charging your reader.

    I invested in a light wedge (illustrated here: http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/sony-to-kindle-up-yours/  (sorry I couldn’t work out how to create a link. These are good, but cost about $70 dollars. I have also found Might Bright clip on lights for about $10 to be very effective. Neither light will disturb a sleeping partner.

    My hand gets tired too as I read in bed for far too long! I alternate, for a while I hold my reader in my right hand and prss the buttons on the right hand side, and then I hold it in my left hand for a while and use the circular button at the bottom left of the reader. If I don’t need my light wedge, I usually read without the cover on as this makes it much lighter.


  7. 7
    brandy says:

    Ditto on what was said above about unplugging it.  I’d take it one step further, I don’t even bother to safely do anything.  I unplug it when I’m damn good and ready to use it.  Also, someone mentioned the red light.  As far as I can tell that is the charge light.  It doesn’t matter if the transfer is done, if it’s not fully charged the light will stay on until it is.

  8. 8
    belldandelion says:

    Why did I not think about using my husband’s PSP charger – that is pure brilliance!

    As far as the charge light, I don’t usually wait til the light goes out – I’m too impatient and my 505 works just fine. :)

  9. 9
    Carmen says:

    I have the 505 in February – I bought an adapter to plug it in at an outlet at the same time I bought the reader. I haven’t looked back since. I’m a very fast reader – I can go through five or so 400 page books in a weekend, and I don’t even notice the page turning, so I guess one gets used to it. I find that I read all the time with one hand. I just fold the top cover back (never even thought to take it off), hold it in my left hand, even though I’m normally right handed, and use my left thumb on the circular page turner.  It fits perfectly. My hand doesn’t get any more tired than it does holding a paperback.

    I personally didn’t like reading on the computer too much, or on something that is backlit, as I spend all day at the computer at work, and it really tires the eyes out. However, I have found that lately, I’m trying to touch the screen on the reader to select stuff. I guess that comes from having a touchscreen cell and laptop. I might have to check out the new reader that’s touchscreen.

  10. 10
    Carmen says:

    I forgot to say that yes, you can still read the reader when it’s charging in a wall outlet. I also agree that with the USB cord, you can unplug anytime, just make sure you exit the eBook Library first.  The red light is just the charging indicator, it’s the circle with the line through it on the reader viewing screen that you have to pay attention to. DON’T unplug it while that is still on the screen. I did that once, and had to hit the reset on the back, and reload my books. That is a lesson you only need to learn once. :)

  11. 11
    Sarah W says:

    There is also a book cover with light that you can use, it does decrease the quality of the text, but it is not as bright to others in the room so as to disturb them. I don’t use mine often, because I read with the lights on. I charge mine with the wall plug and can read while it charges.

  12. 12
    April Dawn says:

    I love the idea of an ebook reader. My books that are being publishing at the moment are ebooks. I think that being able to cuddle up with an ebook in bed would be a very pleasant way to spend an evening, and I am glad that my readers will have the option of doing this. Myself,  I am trying to decide between the sony, and the kindle. I am not sure which I will end up with, but your article is super helpful on my journey to this decision.

  13. 13
    Sereneway says:

    I love my Sony 505. I have downloaded and read over 300 books since March when I got it. My kids got me the Sony PRS-ACL1 Digital Book Reader Cover with Light which included a hard black leather cover, an AC Adapter, and the back light for reading in the dark (at Best Buy for $69.99). The Sony can be used while charging and the wall plug charges really fast. I am an organizational freak so after I read the book, I delete it from my Sony. Once a week I sync the computer (if I have downloaded more books) but before I do this, I move the read books that I have deleted from the Sony to another file folder that I labeled “READ” so they don’t wind up on my Sony again.  I had a Kindle and hated it and gave it away. I find the Sony much easier to handle and read and love the idea that I keep the books on my own computer. I do back up the files on their own flash drive. I love that I can just put the reader in my purse and use it whenever I have to wait somewhere for more than 5 minutes, yet always have a bookmark that knows the place I left off. I found the Kindle heavier and harder to read with their backlight and I did not like not having my own copy of what I purchased on my own computer. Also the biggest plus for me was the ability to download books from different publishers and I was not committed to only Amazon as my book source. I, too, didn’t like the touch scroll feature.

  14. 14
    tricia says:

    I have this reader and I would suggest getting the ac charger. I have it (it is expensive, but I’ve read you can buy a psp charger much cheaper for the same thing), and it charges the book in no time at all (20 min from completely empty to completely full) AND you can read while plugged into the charger.

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