Other Media Review

Sony 700 Review: A Report from Laura

Used by permission of Sony Electronics IncI’ve had a couple of weeks to spend with my borrowed toy, and here’s my
impressions, based on my unscientific but personally demanding testing
methods.

Overall, I like it, but the technology still has some serious limitations
that keep it from being a serious solution for my personal library growth
issues. I knew there would be a learning curve, so I gave myself several
days to just play with it. I tried a couple of freebie downloads, but
really wasn’t warming up to the e-paper format at all. Then I downloaded
the new Jeaniene Frost release I’d been dying to read. For the first few
pages, the flicker of the entire page at the ‘page turn’ drove me nuts.
And then, I quit noticing. Somehow. I was reading along, completely sucked
into the story, and I lost half an hour. Poof! Gone! I was well into the
book by then and had ceased to even notice I was doing the page turn thing.

Yep, I was warming up to the Sony PRS-700. Still . . . my wish list for the
perfect e-reader goes something like this –

1) I want — a high-contrast screen with that’s usable in sun, shade,
and at 3 a.m. in a darkened room with the dh snoring through my insomnia.
Preferably without the eye strain since I get enough of that staring at the
computer monitor for hours at a stretch. The 700 gets a big thumbs up in
this category. My only complaint would be the handy backlight for reading
in the wee hours really sucks down the battery, which means I actually have
to remember to plug back in to recharge. Like I need one more thing to
remember . . . not that this is much of an issue for the new buyer since
the 700 has now been discontinued and the newly announced models have no
backlight.

2. I want — a high-res color display that does justice to the high-res
photos that make nature guides so handy. This would allow me to haul one
slim little device down the road to the prairie conservation area or up the
other way to the river. One slim little device would fit in my big camera
bag without adding noticeably to the back strain involved in schlepping all
that gear around. But alas, the Sony with its relatively low-res screen
isn’t anywhere close to replacing that two-foot stack of books that tell me
half of everything I need to know about the marvels I encounter in the
wilds. A million kisses for whoever finally figures out how to marry the
eye-friendly e-paper screen of Sony readers with the color & photo clarity
of my PDA — at a purse-friendly price, of course.

3. I want — a software interface that installs with a minimum of fuss and
just works. Thus far, the Sony eLibrary software gets a big MEH. More
precisely, the software interface with the Sony eStore sucks big warty
toads. I first thought the problem was my satellite internet. It can be
quirky and fussy. But nope, I tested that theory by browsing the Sony store
side-by-side in Microsoft Explorer and the Sony eLibrary software,
comparing performance. Ugh! The Sony software side was so embarrassed by
its slow, stuttering performance that it just locked up and refused to play.
Twice. Once it froze my entire computer, not just the eLibrary software,
and I had to reboot. That’s a first on this computer, which is a nice
64-bit machine with enough power and memory to make me very happy.

However, I had no trouble transferring e-books to the device after
downloading from any other source. (With a caveat about previously
purchased PDF format ebooks with DRM protections – that’s a whole other
dance.) I even downloaded a massive digital file of an 1870s-era history
tome that was more than 600 pages long in print. The file was,
unfortunately, all PDF images. It was easily viewable on the Sony PRS-700,
but in really tiny print. The Zoom function made the text readable,
theoretically. The letters were easy to read, but navigating to the next
part of the page was so painfully slow that I’d rather poke sticks in my eye
than try to read the book this way or actually use it for research. Which
is what I’d planned to do, get ahead on my research for an upcoming project.
Sob – there goes one of my dreams – lying awake at 3 a.m., engrossed in the
digital version of the 1875 History of Missouri – trust me, it’s a page
turner if you’re into that sort of thing.

(Note to self – test with smaller file to see if it happens on all PDFs or
just the really, really fat documents.)

Still, I’m finding the Sony PRS-700 much more useful than I’d expected. I
was bummed to learn that the model had been discontinued. I’m not so
interested in the recently announced 300 – a Pocket Reader with no
touchscreen doesn’t appeal. I want the option of highlighting, taking
notes, and searching . . . so I’ll probably take a look at the 600 when it
hits the retail market.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    What is the caveat about previously purchased PDF docs with DRM protection? I just bought a sony reader because I have so many PDF ebooks and it’s inconvenient to lug around my laptop. I got the 300 so maybe it’s a little different, but is it impossible to transfer PDF? Do you know how I can tell if a purchased ebook has DRM protection? I’ve posted these questions in amazon reviews and at the sony and bestbuy websites and responses have been not very informative so any help or info would be appreciated.

  2. 2
    Ashley Ladd says:

    I am dying to get one of these, a Kindle, or something like it. I really appreciate your reviews so I can decide which one to spend my money on once I have the money to spend on one.

  3. 3
    Anida Adler says:

    Romantic Alice, I don’t have an e-reader, but I have a netbook.  At risk of telling you something you already know, it’s a tiny laptop, it has a 10 inch screen.  I find it very handy for reading e-books, but it only has two hours battery power. 

    I don’t have an e-reader but wish I could get one.  They’re far superior to reading on a laptop, no matter how small it may be, and their batteries apparently last forever.

  4. 4
    LauraP says:

    Alice – I don’t have any special tricks for recognizing DRM on PDF’s.  It’ll open or it won’t.  My rule of thumb, if I acquired it before I got the free Adobe Digital Editions software, if there’s DRM, it won’t recognize the 700, and I’ll have to read on the desktop (which is what I did before the trial).  All the PDFs I’ve gotten since I authorized all my devices via Adobe Digital Editions can be opened on any device authorized (including my 700) because the codes match.  Don’t ask me how to recognize the codes and fiddle with them, that’s way beyond my level of expertise.

  5. 5
    Terry Odell says:

    No backlight? Boo. That’s what I LOVE BEST about my eBookwise, dinosaur or not.

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