Top positive review
124 people found this helpful
A brilliant ereader, more than a match for the new Kindle
on 19 November 2011
I have been using my new Sony reader for 2 weeks now and now that I am used to the quirks of its interface feel very pleased with it. It is less straightforward to set up than the Kindle, but the ease of that is bought at the cost of being completely dependent on Amazon for sourcing books, something which I object to in principle, much as I recognise the quality of the Kindle and the cheapness of many books.
Since using the Sony I have bought from Waterstones, Google Books and WH Smith at the same price as on Amazon (though many books ARE more expensive on these other sites) and borrowed library books from my local library, all via the wi-fi connection. This latter source is particularly appealing to me as there are many books I want to read but would not dream of spending £5 on, even on the Kindle. As yet the Sony Reader Store is not online (due 1st December) so I will need to amend this review once I have tried that out. (A free programme, 'Calibre' has a function enabling sourcing the cheapest outlet for any book you wish to buy: it searches, displays and then you go to the site of choice.)
This Sony has wi-fi; a touch screen and stylus; built in bilingual dictionaries for 5 languages plus 2 English dictionaries (and no scrolling through using a rocker switch to highlight a word - simply touch and the definition appears from within the chosen main dictionary); touch screen keyboard, far superior to the KKs and even more so to the K4. There are 8 font size options, 6 plus the book's original font style options - serif and non-serif -, on screen real page numbering for all books, landscape/ portrait options and a really useful crop tool which removes the excessive margins on some pages: I find that I often set this for a book when the font size I really want lies between two of the options: the slightly enlarged cropped page often enlarges text just enough to make it perfect. (It DOESN'T have changeable line-spacing, which I have found useful on the Kindle to maximise legibility.) Many free books which were so cumbersome to navigate on the Kindle, are much better formatted for ebook, with contents pages often appearing where they were absent on Kindle formats. Calibre will convert non DRM books easily to the ebook format and contents lists miraculously appear in the new format even though hidden on the Kindle! Storage is about 1.4gb, pretty much the same as the Kindle 4 has available for book storage. Whereas the K has Cloud storage, with the Sony the device has an expansion slot which can take a card up to 32gb! There are options to control contrast and brightness, but I have found it hard to see what these actually do without pushing the selections to extremes and hence unreadability.
Note making and highlighting, features I thought of little interest on the Kindle where actually using them is a bit clunky and too awkward for me, is here a doddle: highlight, opt to type a note and the onscreen keyboard is immediately responsive. The 'page' can also be used to handwrite or sketch using the stylus: I've not used these much yet, but can conceive of them as useful, if minor bonuses. The 'pinch zoom' feature, which works well and flexibly, is very useful for charts, maps, diagrams etc, where the Kindle's crude zoom is not generally helpful. I am learning Italian, and verb tables on Kindle were illegible even with the zoom: on the PRS T1, the zoom is variable and one can move around in the zoomed page! Another feature which is useful is tapping on a word produces a dictionary definition, but also an on screen option to search using that word in Google or Wikipedia, the option of making a note, highlighting and so on. It really is incredibly quick and flexible. Obviously Google/Wiki access is dependent on being in a 'friendly' wi-fi zone. Browser use is a bit flickery at times, but I think it is 100% better than the Amazon 'trial' version.
There have been some comments about freezing of the Sony. This has happened to me once, but a partial refresh put that right in 2 minutes: I had to reset my K3 at least 3 times and k4 twice, so that's just a reminder that nothing is perfect.
The Kindle scores on ease of set up, though the Sony really isn't too problematic with care and a bit of common sense (beware some 1* Kindle complainers), and I write as someone not especially skilled in technical terms. Though I preferred the Sony Touch appearance to the Kindle's, the K4 looks rather better to me than the new Sony, with less intrusive bezel etc. I'm not mad about the super shiny, reflective and finger-print attracting bezel on the Sony, but when reading, the frame pretty much disappears, though a reading light needs more careful positioning. (My much loved OctovoOCTOVO Solis e-reader Led Light for Kindle (Fits the New Kindle & Kindle Keyboard) still fits pretty snuggly, but reflections from the bezel make more careful positioning of reader AND light pretty essential.) Cases are not so easy to buy either as there is very limited choice: the 'official' Sony cases are horrible, expensive plasticky tat which I would not buy at £5 let alone the £30 or £40 for case with light - but that's a matter of taste, though I have seen that a number of sites list options as imminent.
So, having used and really loved my Kindle 3, the new K4 (for me a great advance on 3) and now the Sony PRS t1, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the Sony above the others: 5 stars, not because it's perfect, but because I think it is very, very good, more flexible than any Kindle and suits me perfectly in not being tied to a single powerful retailer AND able to access library catalogues! (And 0nly £130 from Sony Centres, currently!
PS March 2012.
Re Pdfs. I have used the Sony with journals which I have received in pdf format on both K4 and the Prs t1. On the Kindle, the texts were illegible. The device cannot re-arrange text and the zoom still leaves the docs I have tried completely illegible. On the PRS t1, the pdf text is flow enabled and though the result is a bit slow in loading and changing pages, it is acceptable and usable. Diagrams for manuals would probably still not be practicable, but text based pdfs with some photographic content work well. I've been able to put academic material I've produced in pdf format onto the device and OU study materials.