From the moment the PRS-505 arrived on my doorstep, I have been a happier person. That may seem like an overstatement, but it’s true. Reading makes me happy, and the e-reader makes reading more convenient, thus allowing me more time to do what makes me happy, hence, I am happier!
If I was not a part of this test-drive and privy to the difficulties others experienced with the Sony e-reader software and store, I would have remained blissfully unaware that such problems existed. My personal take was that it was extremely easy to install the included software and register both my home computer and the e-reader at the Sony store. I would like to use my lil’ netbook computer in conjunction with the e-reader as well, and plan to add it as an authorized device at some point – hopefully that process will be just as simple.
So now that we’ve gotten physical with the hardware, let’s get technical with the software. Again, I enjoyed smooth sailing and navigated the Sony E-reader store with ease. Purchasing books, both with the HQ coupon code and my own credit card, was simple and straightforward, and the books loaded themselves into my library in seconds. From there it was just a quick drag and drop to get them onto the e-reader itself. This also took just a few seconds. I was feeling a mild dose of déjà vu until I realized that the e-store and e-reader operate a lot like itunes and an ipod. In my very humble un-technical opinion, if you own an ipod, browsing the Sony e-store and loading books onto the reader will feel pretty familiar.
Let’s get emotional and come to the heart of the issue – the e-books themselves. My biggest gripe is availability: I belong to two book clubs (remnants of my life as on over-achiever, what can I say) and neither of this month’s book choices were available in e-format. I also found the price of many of the e-books prohibitive as well; I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of spending more $ on a book in e-format than it would cost in the store in paperback form. This is why I love one of the Sony Store’s features: a “Bargain Priced” category including several free e-books, some of which I actually really want to read. On top of that, Google offers a ridiculous number of free public domain e-books and I was able to load some Austen, Shakespeare, Wilde, and others onto my reader for free (where, oh where was this technology when I was in college?) A caveat on the free public domain books: wow, do some of them look funkarilla…did you ever have a lazy teacher who would just photocopy some text straight out of whatever ancient tome s/he used rather than take the time to type it up into a user friendly hand-out? So you were stuck scrutinizing pages upon pages of blurry minute text? Yeah…it’s kinda like that.
Ok, here’s the fun part: what can this baby do? The options, the extras, the features:
I was intrigued to see you can load pictures onto the reader, but only in b&w. Blah – they look terrible – why bother? I suppose if you are in a profession that uses diagrams, floor plans, or technical readouts to a certain battle station, than it would come in handy.
Other features include a lock option, which is a way to password protect access to the reader’s files. So if you’re not cool with your 8 year old reading about so and so’s “dragon organ” or “jade stalk” than this option can be very handy…lucky for me my oldest is six and I have a few years til this becomes necessary.
I like that you can turn pages from either side of the device., an extremely useful feature when trying to read with one hand while pushing a stroller. A page turn button in the center of the reader “control panel,” would be a nice addition, since that is really where my thumb rests naturally and I could turn pages with the most ease from that spot – however, since it is where my thumb rests while reading, it might make for a lot of accidental page turns as well. Luckily, if you do press something accidentally and suddenly get that “Not in Kansas anymore feeling,” don’t fret, there’s a history feature showing the last 100 pages you looked at, and it’s a pretty simple matter to get back to where you wanted to be, no heel clicking needed.
Personally, my favorite feature is that when you walk away and come back, the reader returns to the last page you were reading: perfect for anyone like me who is lucky to find five minutes of non-interrupted reading time at any point in the day. With the e-reader, I spend a lot less time looking for where I was in a book and a lot more time reading (bookmarks don’t work around here – the 6 year old plays with them and the 1 year old eats them). I also love the way it handles outside (and I LOVE reading outside – it is my idea of the perfect way to spend time) no glare in bright sunlight, and no pages to flap all over the place in a breeze. I’m usually reading more than one book at a time, and with the reader I can flip between the 2 or 3 different books I’ve got going without having to drag them all with me.
Now if it would just serve me a cold drink and repel mosquitoes I’d be set.