Other Media Review

Sony 505 Review by Test Driver Phyllis

Used by permission of Sony Electronics IncI was picked for this test drive because I said, “I don’t think so. Convince me.” 

And then I was picked. And then I got excited.

First reaction: my Sony 505 eReader has a brown cover. I’m so not into brown.

It has a gray screen. I’m much more into gray.

It’s a bit heavy. More heavy and solid than a paperback. Lighter and more streamlined than a hardback, though. It’s a tad awkward too, because the cover is pretty lightweight compared to the actual reader, so it’s always off-balance.

I also have this nightmare vision of my toddler-who-throws-things getting her hands on it. That’s a lotta bucks straight down the tube if she does. I keep it in a high drawer.

The instructions. Oy. I read the first part of them – they fold out to cover approximately the same square footage as my house – and have winged it since then with not too much trouble. 

I had downloaded the ebook Library software from the Sony website before I got the reader, because I wanted to feel like I was doing something. Apparently, this was the right thing to do because I got the most recent version without loading and then reloading with the updates.

The setup wasn’t hard other than the software’s burning desire to not take me to the correct page when I tried to link my eReader to the Sony eReader store account – remedied when I complained to the SB eReader group and they told me to go to “My Account” and then click and click and click and click.

Back to the screen:

  1. I need a bit more contrast than it offers. It’s OK in full daylight, but by lamplight it’s a bit hard on my eyes, which are already not so good.
  2. There’s a lag of a second or two between when I push the button and when it turns the page and there’s a flicker as it loads the new page. You know how electronic gamers don’t blink as much as normal when they’re really into their game? That’s how I read. The flickering and lag mess me up. I’ve taken to turning the page before I get to the end of the page and blinking then. I’m still perfecting the timing.
  3. There are three text sizes on the 505: minuscule, smaller than comfortable, and Beginner Books. I generally end up reading in Beginner Books size (Fox, Socks, Knox, Box) due to the aforementioned contrast problem.
  4. This means that in a 220 page Harlequin I have the text on approximately 440 screens, sometimes with just one or two words on a screen. I think I’m getting a repetitive stress injury in my thumbs. Oh, and the formatting of the text gets messed up as soon as you start zooming in, smashing paragraphs of dialog all into one long paragraph.

Buying and downloading books hasn’t been too hard. I’ve bought books from the Sony store (Yay Harlequin gift code!) and from Samhain without a hitch. I had a long argument with the library website, but that was between me and my library and once it was resolved, moving those books onto the eReader was simple. I’m still arguing with the library because I can’t ‘return’ the books before they expire and it will only let me check out ten at a time. I read a lot, what can I say? I haven’t downloaded from the Gutenberg project, either, though I might if I think of a title in the public domain that I want to read. 

My library doesn’t have a whole lot of new releases that I want to read in compatible format and I get the vast majority of my books from the library, so this is a sticking point. I do buy books, but don’t have a lot of shelf space and I like being to take the ones I don’t want to keep to the used book store and get credit there. 

I’m trying to keep an open mind, because this is exactly why I didn’t think I could be convinced. 

I haven’t tried to convert any files from one thing to another, other than saving the book I’m working on as a .pdf and then loading it on. I’m not sure what software I would use and if it’s always possible without getting technical and borderline illegal.

So to sum up:

  1. awkward and flickery but I’m getting used to it
  2. fragile and expensive
  3. can’t get the library books I want
  4. really cool toy and I can start a new book right away, no lag time. Blink.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Bookfiend says:

    Gutenberg is very good, but I actually prefer Feedbooks.com, since it offers formats for various devices, and the files just look much better in my opinion.

    The MobileRead forums also have many reader-formatted works, and a wiki listing other places to get free stuff.

  2. 2
    Jennie says:

    Thanks for the review: I think I’ll stay away from e-readers until they work out the DRM (well, get rid of it) and solve that page refresh thing.  I HATE having to wait for the next page to load.

    Plus, I am occasionally spectacularly klutzy, and I can at least drop a hardcover/paperback without worrying that I’ve ruined everything and lost my entire library!

    Nevermind the number of times I’ve tried to read while washing dishes (propped up above the sink…and then in the sink…), showering (…held behind the shower curtain..mostly dry!), and other random places.  Hmmm. Apparently I need a very heavy duty piece of kit!

  3. 3
    Chrissy says:

    As for durabilty and toddlers… mine has taken a beating.  I also have the eslick, which I like, too.  My man unit stole that one, so I stole his Sony 505.

  4. 4
    Sandy D. says:

    Yeah, the library and used books are my two major sources of books, so I don’t think the e-reader is right for me. Yet.

  5. 5
    HelenK says:

    Well, assuming all Overdrive Library systems are set up the same (and we all know what that will get me…) you can return the books early. I also read a lot and the 10 items thing is a pain (as an aside: It used to be 10 only, then moved to 30 then unlimited -bliss!- and is now back to 10 -very sad-)

    When you’re in Digital Editions looking at your borrowed books: click on the book you want to return.
    Click on the arrow in the upper left corner.
    Scroll down to Return Borrowed Item and click.

    It will disappear and you’ll be able to download more books. Unfortunately, you can’t do this will audio books, so you have to be careful with those.

  6. 6
    De says:

    Returning library books:
    With Digital Editions open in Library View, you should an arrow in the top left corner of the book cover that if hover the mouse over it says Show Options.  One of the options should be Return Borrowed Item.  If it doesn’t, complain to your library.  Overdrive can do this, your library just doesn’t have it set up. Returning things early ONLY works with Overdrive’s Adobe PDF and ePUB files.  Anything else, mobipocket, WMA, and whatever else, can’t be returned early.

    I return books early all the time.  I spend about half my work days on the library Reference Desk and one of the things I’ve been lucky enough to do lately is show people how to use the downloadable materials that we have access to from Overdrive.  And thanks to SBTB, I’m getting to show them how easy it is to get PDF and now ePUB library ebooks on the Sony Reader.  I’ll frequently check out and download whatever book is first in the list since I’m not actually going to read it.  As part of the demo I’ll show them how to return something early if they’re done with it.

    Also, that ten items at a time limit, that’s set by your library, not Overdrive, so it’s something else that you might be able to convince them to change.  Las Vegas Clark County Library District has a limit of 35 items, so that really is up to the library.

  7. 7
    West says:


    eturning library books:
    With Digital Editions open in Library View, you should an arrow in the top left corner of the book cover that if hover the mouse over it says Show Options.  One of the options should be Return Borrowed Item.  If it doesn’t, complain to your library

    Thanks for the heads-up. I will definitely be talking to my library, as this isn’t an option we have.

  8. 8
    Ashley Ladd says:

    I’ve been dying to buy something like this, but thanks to your review, it won’t be this particular one.

  9. 9
    Robin says:

    I have eliminated the balance issue by folding the cover on the PRS-700 back completely while I read. I can hold it in one hand that way and change the page with a push of the thumb; perfect for comfortable bedtime reading!

  10. 10
    MamaNice says:

    a 35 book limit? I want to join your library! Not that I could read 35 novels in 3 weeks….unless I wanted to get arrested for neglect…
    My library has a pretty user friendly e-library option…but the limit is 5 books, so the return early option really comes in handy!

    I also wondered what would happen to the borrowed books on my reader once they expired…I was able to keep reading after the due date, as long as I didn’t plug the reader into the computer…once I did and the files updated – the expired books were no longer accessible. At least I was able to finish it first!

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