I’m really enjoying my Sony Reader PRS-505. I got hold of it before Christmas with the aim of lightening my travel load, and it works a treat.
The screen is very clear – when I saw it on display in Waterstones I thought it was a mock-up with a piece of paper slapped over it. There’s no backlighting on the screen but you can always clip one of those little reading lights on the cover when you want to read in the dark.
The battery life is excellent because it only uses power when you turn the page. I ran it recently for seven days, using it everyday, and the battery indicator was still showing full when I got around to plugging it in. I’ve never seen it showing less than half charge.
Sony’s partner in the UK is Waterstones. Last time I looked they only had about 7,500 ebooks available and their prices aren’t low either. The good news is many ebooks can be downloaded free of charge, in fact the Reader includes a CD with 100 out-of-copyright classics to get you started. And the Gutenberg Project has thousands of free titles to download.
For purchased books I’ve been using mainly ebooks.com and Powells. Ebooks are available in a variety of formats, DRM’ed and DRM-free, and tools are available online to convert to and from various formats.
As a Mac user there is one ripple on the pond. Sony uses Adobe Digital Editions to authorise the Reader to display DRM-protected files and the Mac version of ADE doesn’t recognise the Reader. The solution is to authorise the Reader from the Windows version of ADE, either with a real PC or something like Parallels. Once the Reader has been authorised you can use the Mac version of ADE to put files on the Reader, or simply drag them to the Reader which shows up as a USB drive in the Finder.
An even better solution is Calibre by Kovid Goyal. Calibre (freeware) converts ebook formats, sends the files to the Reader, allows you to read the ebooks on your Mac as well, if you wish, and generally manages your ebook library.
Sony has recently released the PRS-700 with built-in backlighting, a touchscreen and a higher price, but it’s getting mixed reviews. The 700 isn’t designed to replace the 505 apparently, and both are likely to be on sale for the foreseeable future, but the PRS-505, at US$300/UK£200, is significantly cheaper and does the job well. Recommended.