Portrait of a Noob eReader
Note: This is the first of 8! reflections by the reviewers here at Dear Author regarding their use of the Sony PRS 505. You can touch and feel one yourself at places like Borders, Target, and select Best Buy, Frys, and Books a Million. In the UK, Waterstone sells them. I have to tell you that you cannot really understand the eink technology until you see it in person. I highly recommend checking one out if your local retail shop has one.
I’m an e-Reader noob. Oh, I read tons of ebooks, I just use my laptop and whatever program is called for. The thing is, I also read lots and lots of physical manga and books. I always carry a couple with me. The last time I took a vacation I had one bag of clothes and two of books. So I was pretty excited to get something compact and light that could hold all of that for me. I like a lot about the Sony e-Reader. There are some things that could stand to be improved. Overall though, I think I’m going to be very happy with it. I know my husband looks forward to “me” not carrying loads of books everywhere.
The e-Reader physically is a very pretty thing. Mine is red. I really had no preference in color, though I tend not to be adventurous with electronics and go for sober shades. Surprisingly I found the red to be not only pleasing to the eye, but it seemed to bring out the dark of the text and lines on the reading screen, enhancing the contrast.
The cover is nice and sturdy too, though I think I’ll add a pocket or two to hold SD cards. I just want to put all my books on those and keep it all in one place. I’ve realized I’d rather have several smaller cards than one big one that takes a while to index and page through. Most people probably only a need for one card if any though, and it will be in the reader itself. I’ve just collected a lot of ebooks and manga over the years and want them at my fingertips.
After opening the package, everything charged up easily from my laptop and all the programs installed easily. Even my Dad could have done that part, and that’s saying something. It took me a second to figure out the on switch, a slide that snaps back, until I found the instructions. Which brings me to one thing that annoyed me. I don’t want installation instructions that fold open like a road map. Book readers like BOOKS. I felt like I was trying to find my way to Vegas at 3:00 am after missing that left at Albuquerque. Once I found my location the step I was after, the route process was clear. But of course, I ended up refolding the map instructions incorrectly. Book, OK?
So then I got the instruction e-manual installed on my laptop and pulled it up and read through it. Yes, I actually did. I’m not only anal, I’m a girl (men wouldn’t have even made the roadmap comparison, as they know not of which I speak). It seemed very simple: Open the software, add my ebooks to the program’s library, drag and drop them to my reader. And it was simple. It worked. Two minutes later I was reading Lynne Connolly on my e-Reader. WHOOHOO!
I upped the font to medium. There are three font sizes, S, M, L. I found M to be just right. I didn’t realize there was no light on the 505 though. I’m glad this was adjusted for the new model. But I bought a full spectrum book light from Mighty Bright and will be happy with that. That will help with the contrast as well, as it’s less than what I’m used to and unfortunately not adjustable. Under a light however, I was able to read quite easily in the dark. And of course in the bright sun reading was a breeze. I love the fact that there’s no glare, and that the page looks like paper.
Then I got adventurous. I went to the Sony ebook store in my browser and tried to buy something. Oops. You can’t do that. That’s kind of annoying. Why do I have to be on an approved system with Sony software installed to buy and download something? That’s rather limiting. If I’m on vacation and want a book, I can’t just plug in at an internet café. I’m screwed without that software. Bad move.
But this time I was on my laptop with software installed, so I opened it back up and entered the store from there. Since I’d already tried an ebook, I decided to download one of your manga from TokyoPop to see how that looked. It was very easy to navigate around the site and narrow the list down to choices that might interest me. I found one I wanted and clicked ‘buy’ and after I registered, it downloaded itself to my library. Then drag and drop and open. Very simple. The quality was a little less than what I’d see on my computer, but all in all, quite readable. I buzzed though the volume in no time. The experience was so like reading a book that I kept reaching up to turn the page.
There were two issues with the manga though. The first was that I got to the end of vol 1 and your store does not carry subsequent volumes. !!!! So I had to go buy them in hardcopy. I don’t mind having hardcopies, but that rather defeats the purpose of having the e-Reader to save having to store paper manga series.
The second issue is that I could not zoom on certain files. I have no idea why, but homemade manga volumes I made zoomed perfectly well (thank you, Calibre!), yet the manga I purchased from your store did not. Granted, zooming on the homemade volumes only gets you a bigger and fairly grainy picture, but for those little asides that appear in manga so much, it would be helpful. Click the picture below left to get a view of how a page of one of my own scans appears on the Sony Reader.
But those are minor complaints, really. The fact that I can load up dozens of manga scans that look great, instead of carting all those volumes around makes me want to find all of you and give you smooches. Or at least send you a pizza, which would be more hygienic.
I should point out to the readers that there are a very limited number of commercial e-manga out there. To create your own, you either have to scan what you have or find someone who has already done so. As far as I’m concerned, owning a home-scanned version of manga I’ve already purchased is perfectly reasonable. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Now let me tell you how I’ve used it, after putting my books and a lot of manga on SD cards.
A few mornings ago I felt terribly sick, and I was looking for a comfort read to make me feel better. I have manga and books lying all around, but to be honest it’s all unorganized. It takes me a while to find anything, if I find it. But I grabbed my e-Reader, and had so many favorites right there at my fingertips, no searching. I picked one out, no fuss, and lost myself in it.
I get into a lot of discussions about the manga I’m reading online. That generally means I have about 10-20 volumes lying on the bed and desk at any given time. Not now. If I’m talking about it, it’s on my e-Reader. The bed is all mine!
I usually have to wait and wait in the car while my husband talks and talks at the hobby shop he goes to (No gurls allowed!), so I carry a few books. Not this week. Just one handy e-Reader with all kinds of choices. When he came out, I told him to go back in. The look on his face was priceless. Heh.
So, no more lugging books around, and the choices are myriad. Sometimes getting the books to that point takes a little work. But with a conversion program like Calibre that’s been made pretty simple, just highlight the book and click convert. And yes, there are improvements that could be made, but they’re minor as far as I’m concerned (and the newer model’s light takes care of the biggest one.). I am quite happy with the versatility and quality of experience this reader has to offer.