Philosophical Musings

December 19, 2006

Last week I got me a Sony Reader!

Filed under: ebooks — Elad Kehat @ 1:12 pm

One evening with it made it clear that it is a potential relationship killer, so the next day I got another one. Since my wife and I both have immediately begun in the process of ditching our antiquated paper books in favor of the immense wealth of digital content (which I diligently collected beforehand), only one device for the household would have meant constant fights over who gets to read…

In short, this is an instant success. I already read a few hundred pages on it, in different places and lighting conditions (train, airplane, couch, bed), and the screen is indeed the equivalent of paper in terms of ease on your eyes. Then there are all the added benefits – smaller and lighter than most books so it’s easier to hold, less bulky so it fits perfectly in a small bag or a woman’s purse, you can’t lose the page accidentally, you can save any number of bookmarks per book, hold many books on it at the same time and take them all with you anywhere…

Also, there’s no need to have a big piles of books on my nightstand any longer, and in the long run I’ll be able to clear a lot of shelf space from all those bulky antiques that I don’t need anymore. I said “in the long run” because right now I’m still emotionally attached to all my paper books. That’ll pass though.

Now for some criticism:

It’s been said in other reviews, and it’s true – your average PDF shows up too small on the reader. I found two solutions – the easier one is to change the screen aspect ratio from portrait to landscape. You do this with a single click on a button on the reader. This way the font becomes readable for most PDFs. Holding the reader horizontally rather than vertically feels a little strange, but you get used to it, and the page up/down buttons are still easily accessible.

If that failed and the font is still too small, then there’s still hope: if your PDF has text rather than images in it (i.e. it was originally written with a word processor, rather than scanned from a book), you can select all the text (ctrl-a), copy (ctrl-c), open Notepad (or Word), paste (ctrl-v), save (ctrl-s), and you’re done. Download the text or word document to your reader, and you can increase the font size to whatever you like.

Now, I’d love Sony to come up with a better solution for that – a lot of people’s existing material that they would like to use the reader for is in PDF documents. Nevertheless, it’s soluble today, and shouldn’t prevent anyone from buying the device IMHO.


Other things I’d like to see:

Some form of textual input (i.e. Palm-like stylus, or mini-keyboard) – it makes a lot of sense to be able to add notes to the stuff you read as you read it.

Network connectivity – imagine reading the morning news online at your breakfast table. That would be the last nail in the news-papers coffin. Combined with input, you could read your blogs and add comments from the comfort of your just-about-anywhere.

An operating system I could write code for. Soon enough there’ll be hundreds of applications available for the device that I couldn’t even dream of.


You can get all that with the iRex Illiad, but I still opted for the cheaper Sony Reader. In other words, I’m unwilling to pay double the price to get these last features. Moving forward though, it’s likely that prices will go down so I’ll have them on my next device J

So, I’m a happy puppy with my new Reader. I expect any book lovers who aren’t so narrow minded as to talk about their love for “the smell of paper” to go out and get one!


1 Comment »

  1. Hi
    I have got mine eReader on 30th and unfortunately have same problems with PDF as you describe. I figured out that to get best typography and truly scalable fonts (all 3 or 4 sizes) you should upload ebook in TXT format, ideally without hard newlines, paragraph as long line. This works great for English ebooks, but has some problems with char encoding for some EU languages.

    What I also find unsatisfactory is the included CONNECT software – conversion takes forever, it eats 90% of CPU time and is generally very sluggish, even unresponsive – on 3.2 GHZ Pentium 4 HT, 1 GB RAM.

    I like the screen a lot and am generally happy with the device, but PDF was quite disappointing. Thanks for the iRex type, will check it out.

    Happy new year

    Comment by Miro — January 2, 2007 @ 3:36 am | Reply

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