Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

The Sony Reader: 500 vs 505

Dear Sony,

Sony Reader in RedLast year Jane sent me her Sony 500 Reader for me to try. Before that, I had an IPAQ 4700. I’ve been using the Sony exclusively as my ebook reader since then. I love the e-ink technology, I love the screen size, I love the light weight and I love the capacity to carry so many books around at one time even without utilizing an SD card. Yes, I loved my borrowed Sony.

Then Jane announced her plans, designed to earn DA enough moolah to purchase readers for all of us. And we rejoiced. Yeah, Jane loves us. Then Sarah the Smart Bitch proved that she is one smart bitch by suggesting the simple and obvious. Why not go to Sony and suggest a partnership? Free readers for us (and some to give away) in exchange for our pimpage. Brilliant! we all chorused. And Jane (and Ned) did so and Sony agreed and there was more rejoicing amongst the DA reviewers.

And finally our Readers arrived. Most of the other reviewers got theirs around Christmas as the red readers got here first but three of us decided on a silver one so we had to wait. Which kind of made me feel like a redheaded stepchild even though I wasn’t getting a red reader. But all was forgiven when I eagerly opened my package and beheld my shiny new silver reader. Oh, it’s pretty!

So I have my new reader (with soft cover), a USB cable, a CD-ROM, the Guide, some flyers about the warranty and some plastic cards inserted in the memory card slots. Since I already had the Sony software downloaded, I just charged her up, hooked her to her USB cable and started loading books. Lots of books. Oodles of books. More rejoicing.

Then I started trying all the buttons and slides, flipping back and forth through the books I had loaded and began to read a book. The basics are about the same though there are some new things about the 505 I like and a few changes in location for various things.

First of all, I don’t like the on-off slide button on the top. I’m not sure why it was moved there from the bottom, left side of the reader but it’s awkward where it is now.

I do like the way “Books by Author” and “Books by Title” are now subdivided into alphabetical groups instead of making me flip though 20 odd pages depending on how many books I had loaded at a time.

I still love that you can resize the font so easily but I wish the button were further from the page flip button. I’m afraid I’m accidentally going to hit the font button where it is now.

I like the controls on the bottom. They’re easier to manage than the old toggle switch and make it easier to maneuver through the menus instead of what I used to do which was use the 1-0 “across the bottom” numbered keys (for the 500 Reader), though I like that we still have that option if we want to use it. I am getting used to the selection buttons on the side of the 505 instead of on the bottom. I like having the extra page flip buttons on the right hand side as it now makes it easier to advance through the pages/menus using either hand.

I liked the older cover with “Sony” and “Reader” embossed on it but I really like that the cover isn’t held on by that back button anymore. That thing made it a true PITA to reset the Reader and then get the darn cover snapped back on. Lots of rejoicing over this change.

I still enjoy the e-ink technology. I doubt I’ll get the additional booklight device as I can read with the lights on just about anytime. I don’t miss the touch screen that I used to have with the IPAQ and love the size of the Sony screen. I’ve never used an ebook reading device for anything other than reading ebooks so again, I don’t miss any internet connection.

I still wish that the Sony allowed for native reading of more ebook formats though I hope that the adobe books will format to reflow better now. With the old IPAQ, I could zero in on the page I wanted immediately. With the Sony 500, I could only advance by either one page or ten. Imagine my joy when I realized that the 505 allows for pin-point page finding. So far this hasn’t happened to me while using the 505 but with the 500 model, sometimes the Reader would reset itself and I’d lose most of not all of the bookmarks in the book I had open.

For the most part though, I like the Sony 505 even more than I already liked using the older 500 model. As Jan mentioned in her review, the Sony software is easy to use even for a fairly technophobe person such as myself. Combined with the Calibre software, the Reader makes it easy to take advantage of the tons of ebooks I already own.

Thanks Sony for your generous agreement to provide Readers for our reviewers and extras to gift to our blog readers.

~Jayne – who’s still rejoicing muchly.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Robin
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 12:47:48

    It’s interesting to read about the differences between the 500 and the 505, since I had no experience with the Sony until the 505. One thing I like about the on/off slider at the top of the reader is that I tend to hold it with my left hand and toggle from the bottom left (I’m left handed, so that’s really convenient for me), leaving my right hand free to turn off the reader at the top of the machine when I’m finished reading.

  2. Danielle
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 12:54:42

    I started out with the 500 and had to have the Red 505 just because I was able to read PDF books on it. I love my Sony Reader now I have to decide if I want the cover with the built in light.

  3. ms bookjunkie
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 17:06:47

    I was wondering… Does the color of the casing that frames the screen (silver/red/blue/black/white/other) affect your reading in any way? Is there a difference depending on color? Is one color easier on the eyes than another? Or do you just take it as it is and not worry about it?

    (Angela James photographed her Kindle and Sony 505 side by side and mentioned her surprise that there was no big difference in the eink screens. She’d thought that the Sony was darker but apparently that was just the effect of the casing. ( Which, I think, is what prompted my questions.)

  4. Nicole
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 17:15:25

    Oh, I have had the same problem with the 505 of it resetting and losing my bookmarks occasionally that the 500 had. So it still happens and I still have no idea why.

    I also dislike having the power button on top.

    Overall, though, it’s a nice improvement over the 500 and is all around awesome.

  5. Tae
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 17:37:07

    I have the Red Sony PRS 505 and I wanted to throw it at the wall over the weekend. I used a wall USB charger and it actually drained the power instead. I hooked it up to a computer and it wouldn’t start to charge. I had to futz around for a bit. Once it was charged, it wouldn’t turn on. Then when it did turn on it wouldn’t recognize my SD card with all my books on it. When it started to recognize the SD card it took about 3 minutes to actually read it. It makes me want to go back to my ebookwise.

  6. Laurie
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 18:22:20

    I’ve had the Sony 505 since last October and have only had to use the reset button once. I love , love, lurrrrrve my Sony. Only complaint is the ebook library.
    I find it to be very caveman, electronically speaking. I thought it would be more sophisticated but it downloads my books to my reader which is all important.
    I guess Media Player #1 looked like a
    neandrathal as compared to what is now the #11.
    Heard good things about Calibre… maybe I’ll try that.

  7. Jayne
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 18:44:55

    ms bookjunkie, several of the DA people who got the red Sony say it not only doesn’t affect their reading but that they think it provides a nice contrast to the e-ink. I opted for a silver one and love it. The older 500 had a black case. Frankly I really don’t, and didn’t, notice them affecting my reading or causing any eye strain.

  8. Jayne
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 18:46:40

    Nicole, I hate that your’s resets too but at least I know I’m not doing anything wrong! I hate, hate, hate it when it does that. Sometimes it not only loses the bookmarks of the book I’m currently reading but some of the other recent ones too. Which makes it a joy to try and go back and find specific information I’d marked to make sure I got into a review.

  9. Jayne
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 18:49:35

    Has anyone noticed something while reading pdf files? The 500 would “reflow” a pdf page into one and one half Sony pages. Now on the 505, I sometimes – well make that often – find myself with two page 117s, two 118s, two 119s, etc.

  10. Jayne
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 18:51:16

    Tae, I feel your pain. Jane, bless her heart, has often had to talk me through computer glitches. So far, I haven’t had major problems with either Sony like you did. I have my fingers crossed.

  11. Jayne
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 18:53:29

    Laurie, I prefer the Calibre to the Sony library. I did have to briefly resort to the library when the new Calibre stopped recognizing the old Sony 500. Yeah, it works but not much more, IMO.

  12. Jayne
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 18:55:20

    Robin, I guess if I were used to the slide being on the top, it wouldn’t matter to me but it just makes more sense to me to have it down closer to the other buttons than way up by itself on the top.

  13. Joy
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 18:59:05

    Tae –
    I don’t think you can use any USB wall charger….every thing I’ve read says they don’t work for the Reader. You have to use one for the round hole – the official Reader charger or PSP charger (which is reportedly cheaper) will work.

  14. Jayne
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 19:09:11

    I think someone commented on the specific wall charger that must be used somewhere in another review of the Sony. I find the one I have worked better than the official cord that I used for the 500 model. For that reason, I’ve not tried using the newer 505 cord much for charging.

  15. Keishon
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 20:17:16

    That power button on top actually came off one time. My reader fell to the carpeted floor and the slide thingie in there came out. What PITA to put it back in there! I finally fixed it but you don’t EVER want that thing to come out of there. The mechanism for it is awkward and it took me an hour to fix it. Otherwise, I love my Sony PRS 505. I have blue one which no one seems to have. Sigh.

  16. GrowlyCub
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 20:46:16

    Could somebody give the specifications for that PSP charger (V, amp, in-out) that is compatible? I’d like to buy one cause the not being able to read while the 505 charges via USB cable is kind of annoying.

    Oh, and has anybody been successful putting Overdrive library rentals (Adobe Digital Editions) onto their 505?


  17. AnneD
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 20:55:32

    Keishon – mine is the very dark purply/blue/black :)

    I popped over here to comment about the USB wall charger, but I see people have beaten me to it. They were correct, you can’t use a USB wall charger, but you can use a PSP charger which is apparently much cheaper than the actual branded reader charger.

    On the charging/not working front:

    If you run your reader dead flat, when you plug it in it won’t start up right away. It has a period of time where it has to reach a minimum charge before it reboots. This is what you might find if it doesn’t seem to be doing anything.

    I had a devil of a time when I fist got the Reader. I totally bricked it. I figured out the reason why was because I’d short changed the first charge. When they say FULLY charge it before doing anything, they really mean it :) I reset/rebooted enough times that I finally got it going, and haven’t had the same problem since.

  18. Anne Raine
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 21:04:45

    I have the newest version (the 7whatever) and I freaking love it! :D

  19. Janine
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 02:40:54

    Jayne — I’ve never seen a 500 so it was interesting to read about the changes that were made from the 500 to the 505.

    bookjunkie — Like Jayne, I also have a silver Sony and I find it very easy on my eyes. I know some of my fellow reviewers here at DA opted for the red because they say it brings out the contrast more, but I find that I get a lot of contrast even with my case being silver. I love the way the silver looks, myself.

  20. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 06:42:12

    Oooh, very dark plurply blue black sounds lovely too.

    I do hate not being able to do anything with the reader while it’s hooked up to its USB cord. The other charger is very nice to have.

    The slide thingie can come out?! I just don’t even want to think about it.

  21. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 06:47:12

    Jane has one of the 7whatever ones too. I’m sure we’ll read her insights into it soon. That’s the one with the built in light.

  22. nearhere
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 07:11:43

    I ADORE my Sony 505. I used to have a 500 but traded it in the for the 505 because I wanted the better PDF technology and to be able to go to specific pages. And the PDF flow stuff is amazing. I use it not just for books but also journal articles and it is so convenient and wonderful and easy to read. At first the page numbering was confusing but it’s because it counts the pages of the full size PDF, not the new number of pages created when you resize the document. I am contemplating a kindle but it seems much more limiting than the sony ereader.

    I got the case with the light and it’s nice but the battery doesn’t last long on the strong setting. You can keep it on weak light for a while but it’s doesn’t help all that much when its dark out. I’d be curious to know what the light battery is like on the 700.

  23. Jane
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 07:16:57

    @nearhere: The 700 lasts about 5-6 hours using the light on low level.

  24. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 07:23:07

    At first the page numbering was confusing but it's because it counts the pages of the full size PDF, not the new number of pages created when you resize the document.

    And that is driving me crazy! I feel like I read and read and read then when I glance down to monitor my progress via the page count, it’ll look like I’ve barely read anything at all.

  25. Jessica G.
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 07:38:07

    Jayne- did you get the double pages after you zoomed?

  26. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 07:56:22

    After I what?

  27. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 08:00:33

    Oh, after I increased the font? Why, yes, changing it back to the small font does seem to eliminate the double pages. But then I have to squint to read. I guess I’ll just deal with the frustration of seemingly spinning my reading wheels. ;)

  28. Jessica G.
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 08:21:29

    Yeah, PDFs flow differently than other formats. I’m not a big fan of reading PDFs on my 505. I’ve been trying to read the free Sue Orman book I got and the way it is formatted it makes my Reader cry. Don’t worry too much about the double (or triple) pages too much.

  29. HK
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 08:21:34

    @GrowlyCub: I got the 505 in Oct and use it mainly for library reading. (I have 5 books on there right now). It’s super easy and I’ve never had a problem.

    I had to upgrade to the Adobe Digital Editions software (I had been using Adobe Reader for the library books) and update the firmware on the 505 (click of a button – easy) but since I did all of that when setting up my brand new reader it was all part of the initial set up for me.

    I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. I love reading library books on the reader.

  30. Sunita
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 15:30:41

    Oh, and has anybody been successful putting Overdrive library rentals (Adobe Digital Editions) onto their 505?

    I use a Mac and I haven’t had any problems using my library system’s overdrive account. I’ve downloaded half a dozen books. I don’t know if this is the same everywhere, but I get 14 days (complete with a ticking time bomb with the number of days left) and then at the end of the time, the book is still there but not accessible. I then delete it and voila!

  31. GrowlyCub
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 15:59:19

    Thanks, HK and Sunita.

    I just downloaded two Overdrive PDFs to my old laptop (which runs Adobe 7.0), do I just copy them onto the Sony and does it get the permissions itself or do I have to do something to get it to run? I guess I could try and see, but it’s more fun when you know what you are doing!

    I have Digital Editions on my new laptop, but I really REALLY dislike it and would much prefer to install 7.0 on it, too, if I could find an installation file.

  32. HK
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 17:29:47

    Yeah, I loved Adobe 7.0 and used it all the time to send books to my clie and palm. Unfortunately, you can’t use that and the 505. I don’t know why, (I’d have to ask my DH when he gets home and he’ll probably shrug and just say that’s the way it is) as 7.0 was great and used the library DRM with no problem.

    It won’t work. It ways so in the 505 stuff and with Adobe. You have to jump through their (minor) hoops to get Digital Editions and update the firmware on the 505 itself before library books will work on it. In fact, I had to re-download those books I had in 7.0 because DE wouldn’t recognize them and if DE doesn’t recognize them you can’t sent it to your 505.

    There might be some work arounds, but I don’t know them – sorry!

  33. Angela James
    Feb 13, 2009 @ 21:10:04

    I wonder what Amazon’s answer would be to a consumer in this agent’s situation:

    I’d be curious to know if anyone has had any similar experiences with Amazon and if their customer service is better. That would be an interesting post to compare people’s customer service experiences with the two companies as a point of comparison for which reader to buy.

  34. Jayne
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 07:05:56

    Angela, one poster said that if the Kindle breaks, Amazon sends you a new one to use while yours is being repaired.

    I was a bit shocked that this blogger’s Sony died after only 6 months. I used Jane’s old 500 for over a year with no problems and this was after she used it for a number of months. I wonder if the 505 is more sensitive. Anyway, I always keep her in her cover and now plan to pad her if I take her anywhere outside the house.

  35. Cezarina
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 04:04:59


    I received the Sony Reader PRS – 505, which is brilliant. I have a slight problem on it. I can’t get the Sony Reader to recognise my SD card and it’s quite frustrating. I don’t know if I need to download some software which would allow it to be read.

    I hope someone may know what to do.

  36. Jayne
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 04:43:16

    The only thing I know to suggest is to see if the little slide thingie on the side of your SD card is in the correct position.

  37. Kalei DeTiberiis
    May 13, 2009 @ 09:58:39

    Aloha, I just got the 505 and I’m also having a problem with my Sony Reader not recognizing my sd card. I did check the lock slide on the side of my sd card and it is in the unlock position. Can anyone help me with this?

  38. Jane
    May 13, 2009 @ 11:07:09

    @Kalei DeTiberiis Did you try to restart your device unattached to the computer and without the card? Also, how is your battery level on the Sony Reader? When it gets low, it might not recognize the card.

  39. Jodi
    May 31, 2009 @ 23:17:18

    A friend sent me here because I’m lost. I just got a 505 and people tell me you can create folders on it to organize your books, but I have no clue where to start looking. I can’t find the info in the pdf manual and elibrary is just useless. Please point me somewhere? :) Thanks!

  40. Jane
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 06:41:51

    @Jodi: You need to download Calibre. You import the books into the program and it automatically creates folders for the files by first name last name of author. If you “tag” the books, the tags will show up as “collections” on the Sony Reader.

  41. Chris
    Jul 10, 2009 @ 08:28:13

    Calibre is awesome! and you can change the font size during conversion, so if you are half blind like I am, you can make the font bigger, then when you zoom it’s even bigger! Works great for those PDF files you can’t zoom!

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