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REVIEW: I’ve Been Committing Adultery

You didn’t read that title wrong. Publicily I have proclaimed to be in a serious and monogamous relationship with my IPAQ 4700. I’ve trash talked its competitor saying I would never abandon the IPAQ for Sony. Alas, the IPAQ has been slowly gathering dust as I’ve turned more often to Sony, using it with greater frequency to the point that IPAQ has been lying forlornly in a desk drawer. After expending so much reading energy with Sony, I just don’t have time for the IPAQ anymore.

With the recent reports that the price of the Sony Reader has dropped to $299 (from $350) and that Sony is offering $150 in book credit to new purchasers, the Sony just might be coming of an age where more people can break up with their old reader or take a chance on a new relationship.

img_0393.JPGLet me tell you what has changed since I originally posted about my dislike of the Sony Reader in November of 2006. First, I have found a decent booklight. While I prefer the convenience of the backlight, I have been able to give it up using this booklight that I purchased at Barnes & Noble.

img_0395.JPG The booklight has an alarm clock and a timer. The timer can be set for any amount of time and after the set time expires, the light turns off. I think that’s a pretty genius idea. The head of the booklight pulls up out of the body and bends down. It is the maneuverability of the head of the booklight which is its greatest feature (besides the alarm clock and the timer) because I am able to position it so that there is absolutely no glare on the Reader. The light that emits is pure white light.

What has really made me a convert, though, are the tools the great guys at mobileread have developed. If you are thinking of getting a Sony or you currently have one, here are three must have tools:

  • Sony Reader Flasher. With this Sony Reader flasher, your page turns faster, you are able to change the fonts on your system, add a CLOCK! to the screen, and importantly, allows you to change the joystick on the right side to turn the page.
  • Lit to LRF. I buy many of my ebooks in MS Lit format and in conjunction with Convert Lit GUI, I can turn all my books into Sony readable files simply by dragging and dropping. It’s that easy.
  • Html to LRF. I couldn’t quite figure out how to use this program, but once I did, I found it to be easy to use. The entire program has to be installed. Then in the Program Files > libprs500 is a file called html2lrf.exe. You simply drag your html onto that icon and it turns out a Sony readable file with the cover (if there is one that is part of the html file). My converted files showed up in my C:\Documents and Settings\Jane Litte folder for some reason, but hey, it works and it required no heavy lifting.

These are probably things only a person with a little tech savvy could accomplish but it made a world of difference for me in terms of useability with the Sony Reader. I might even keep my Sony Reader despite the new Amazon Kindle that is about to be released because the Kindle has a style only its mother could love.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

28 Comments

  1. Sybil
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 06:36:37

    LE GASP! I know what you can do with the IPAQ 4700. :)

  2. sherry thomas
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 08:42:10

    Oh, Lord, LE SYB. I think I’d better bring my spew guard to Dallas.

  3. bam
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 08:45:32

    Extract the zip onto a flash card, keeping the directory structure. It’s best to use a card with not many files on it so that Reader can scan it quickly. N.B. readme.txt should be in the root of the card, not in any subdirectory!

    Say Jane, can you explain this part to me? And use small words!

  4. Jane
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 08:52:57

    The root directory is I:\ or whatever is the letter name for your SD card drive. (I.e., the root directory of your hardrive is c:\). So your file structure should be,

    I:\bin
    I:\files
    I:\Sony Reader
    etc

    When you download the SD flash file, extract the contents and then copy the contents of the folder onto your SD card so that I:\ looks just like the contents of sd_flash_1.2.zip

    The other files you will need to change the font and the joystick are later on in the thread.

  5. Robin
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 10:16:55

    I wanted to buy the Sony as soon as I heard about the book rebate, but damn it all, that puppy is not compatible with Mac. I may have to break down at some point and get a cheap PC notebook so I can use some of these gadgets.

  6. Jane
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 11:00:01

    What about a PC emulator?

  7. Robin
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 11:44:27

    What about a PC emulator?

    What’s that?

  8. bam
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 12:00:27

    Can I use my sony reader as a flash card reader?

  9. Jane
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 12:11:17

    A PC emulator is a piece of software you install on your mac that allows you to emulate a pc. You can the “pretend” your mac is a pc. Programs run slower on the “emulator” but for the limited purpose of using sony reader and other reading programs, it might be okay. Microsoft sells a product called virtual pc but I suspect that there are others.

  10. Jane
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 12:12:43

    Bam – the Sony Reader can read files from an SD card but only if the files are in the acceptable format: txt, rtf, jpg, mp3 and so forth.

  11. Robin
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 12:14:15

    A PC emulator is a piece of software you install on your mac that allows you to emulate a pc. You can the “pretend� your mac is a pc. Programs run slower on the “emulator� but for the limited purpose of using sony reader and other reading programs, it might be okay. Microsoft sells a product called virtual pc but I suspect that there are others.

    I had virtual PC on my old (System 9) Mac and it never worked right. Maybe they’ve improved the software, though. I’ll do some browsing — thanks for the recommendation.

  12. LinM
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 12:14:28

    The Sony eReader has never appealed to me but this article made me want to try one. Faster page turning, more fonts and remapping the controls would eliminate some of my major complaints. Plus the conversion programs for .lit files would allow me to keep my current library. However, I also want the ability to input data (notes, reminders, …) which led me to the iLiad. Fortunately the iLiad price tag dissuaded me. I’ll stick with my current hardware for now. But the fantasy was fun while it lasted.

  13. Melanie
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 12:53:06

    [quote comment="30029"]
    I had virtual PC on my old (System 9) Mac and it never worked right. Maybe they’ve improved the software, though. I’ll do some browsing — thanks for the recommendation.[/quote]
    If you have an Intel processor Mac, check out Parallels. You will also need a copy of Windows, but you can run Windows on your Mac quite seamlessly. (There’s also Boot Camp by Apple, but it requires you pick an OS to boot up with (an either/or choice) while Parallels allows you to run both simultaneously, although I highly recommend plenty of memory.)

  14. Robin
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 13:06:27

    If you have an Intel processor Mac, check out Parallels.

    Thanks, Melanie, but neither my G4 notebook nor my G5 desktop has the Intel processor. Although after having a cup of hot coffee spill on my notebook, I don’t know how long it’s going to hang around. I’ve lost the sound and the optical drive so far, and now the display is whacking (plus 1/4 of the screen looks like it’s partially dissolved underneath). And suckiness of all suckiness is that I can’t take the bar exam on my Mac — which is part of why I’m thinking it might be time to buy a cheap notebook (maybe refurbished). But of course I know nothing about PCs, being the Mac snob I am. LOL, just ignore me while I sit here chanting psychotically, “Microsoft will not win, Microsoft will not win.”

  15. Melanie
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 13:46:58

    [quote comment="30032"]… which is part of why I’m thinking it might be time to buy a cheap notebook (maybe refurbished). [/quote]
    Ah, but see, if you’re going to have to buy a new computer anyway, then go for the Intel Mac (with lots of memory) and install Parallels and Windows on it. Then you’ve got the best of both worlds – Windows when you can’t get out of using it and Mac for the rest (most) of the time. Okay, yeah, a PC refurb would be cheaper but … but … it wouldn’t be a Mac!

  16. Robin
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 14:02:26

    Okay, yeah, a PC refurb would be cheaper but … but … it wouldn't be a Mac!

    Fortunately, my Macs are work-furnished (I telecommute and travel some, too), so I’ll ultimately get another Mac notebook (and WILL install Parallels). But I need a PC (not a PC enabled Mac) to take the bar exam, thus my thought to buy one myself as a backup.

  17. Melanie
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 14:41:58

    Fortunately, my Macs are work-furnished (I telecommute and travel some, too), so I’ll ultimately get another Mac notebook (and WILL install Parallels). But I need a PC (not a PC enabled Mac) to take the bar exam, thus my thought to buy one myself as a backup.

    Makes sense. I would probably do the same. Actually, I did. A few years ago, in a fit of frustration with Virtual PC and a program I use that only runs on Windows, I bought a cheap PC. It doesn’t see a lot of action but lives reasonably peacefully with the two Macs. One of these days, I’m going to get all my Windows programs transferred over to the copy living on my Mac notebook and get rid of the desktop, though.

  18. Robin
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 15:41:44

    A few years ago, in a fit of frustration with Virtual PC and a program I use that only runs on Windows, I bought a cheap PC.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what did you buy? Overstock sells these refurbed IBMs and Dells for like $299-$399, but I have no clue what any of that PC techno speak means, and thus no clue if I’d be getting a good enough machine.

  19. Melanie
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 18:59:47

    If you don't mind me asking, what did you buy? Overstock sells these refurbed IBMs and Dells for like $299-$399, but I have no clue what any of that PC techno speak means, and thus no clue if I'd be getting a good enough machine.

    I bought a Compaq desktop on sale at the local Staples, then found a small flat panel monitor on a clearance table (there’s only so much room on my desk for multiple monitors). That was about 3 years ago, I think.

    I just wandered over and took a gander at the laptops at Overstock. I suppose it depends on what you’re going to use the machine for, but I definitely would *not* get the ones marked Pentium III. Personally, I would probably bump up to the $400-$500 range, but that’s just me (and I tend to like bells and whistles). If you have your Macs networked and want this one on the network, then you want to make sure it has ethernet or, if you have a wireless network, then it needs a wireless card (usually look for a reference to 802.11b/g). Some of the machines listed mention a modem but no ethernet or wireless so that’s something to keep in mind if networking your PC is important to you. If it has less than 512MB of memory, then, IMO, it would be worth purchasing more memory to bring the machine up to at least that for better performance. Those are probably the high points. You might take a look at Dell’s Outlet Store, too, although the prices are a tad higher.

  20. Robin
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 20:08:28

    You might take a look at Dell's Outlet Store, too, although the prices are a tad higher.

    Yeah, I’ve been looking there, too. Dell has pretty good educational pricing, too. Right now I’m thinking seriously about this machine if I go new, because it got a pretty good review on CNET. It’s more expensive than I want, but I may have to bite the bullet. Thanks for the reminder about the wireless connection, though. I DO have wireless, but I’m so used to having someone else buy my Macs for me, I don’t pay good attention to some things when I’m looking.

  21. Jaynie R
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 20:42:19

    Okay, screw the ereader, I need to get me one of those book lights – it looks awesome.

  22. Melanie
    Jun 03, 2007 @ 20:51:42

    Right now I'm thinking seriously about this machine if I go new, because it got a pretty good review on CNET.

    That’s definitely a better machine than the ones I glanced at at Overstock. Good luck in your search!

  23. Ann Wesley Hardin
    Jun 04, 2007 @ 03:58:33

    Robin, take a look at Lenovo. They just bought IBM and offer lower cost laptops for home use.

    I have a C-3000. It’s basic, no frills, but all I use it for is surfing and writing. It has a 5 hour battery life!

    If you like to listen to music, though, this machine IS NOT for you. The speakers absolutely suck.

    Worth a look, anyhow.

  24. Robin
    Jun 04, 2007 @ 11:42:43

    Thanks, Ann; I’ll check them out.

    Forget the book light; it’s going to take me about a grand before I can even get to the Sony Reader, LOL!

    And what’s with no backlight anyway? I still don’t quite get that decision on Sony’s part.

  25. Jane
    Jun 04, 2007 @ 11:44:44

    It’s the technology. E Ink is not backlit because of the way the eink technology works. What these ereaders need are a front light – a light integrated into the top that emits a flood of light on the top of the surface of the screen.

  26. Robin
    Jun 04, 2007 @ 12:28:59

    What these ereaders need are a front light – a light integrated into the top that emits a flood of light on the top of the surface of the screen.

    Can they figure out how to do that, or did they figure it was easier to get the reader out now rather than do more technology development? Or do they just figure that no one reads in the dark? One of the things I do really like about reading on my Treo is that it’s not ambient light dependent.

  27. Nicole
    Jun 04, 2007 @ 15:44:01

    Dammit Jane, now I want one again. Poor Nick.

  28. Alex
    Jun 07, 2007 @ 18:38:22

    Jane,

    You said,

    I buy many of my ebooks in MS Lit format and in conjunction with Convert Lit GUI, I can turn all my books into Sony readable files simply by dragging and dropping. It's that easy.

    How does one configure ConvertLit GUI to use lit2lrf.exe to extract lrf files?

    Alex

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