Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another E-book Reader: PRS-700

3 weeks after I got my first e-book reader, the PRS-505, Sony released a new e-book reader, the PRS-700.

At first glance, this looks really promising. The loading time is way better than the old model. For my collection of 175 books on SD card, it takes 6 seconds to load. In PRS-505, it takes 12 seconds. Page turns take half the time compared to 505.

It has a touch screen capability. Which means you have more ways to turn a page. Also, thanks to this ability, you can do search and highlight passages on the book you are reading. It comes with stylus, but using fingers will be as effective.

Another thing I love is the buttons. The new PRS-700 has "back" button, "next" and "previous" page button, "home", "search", "zoom", and "option".

The "home" button is really useful. Using PRS-505, when I want to switch between books, it takes anywhere between 5-10 clicks. Now, thanks to this "home" button, it cuts down the click to between 2-5.

In PRS-505, if I want to see the Table of Contents, I need to "close the book", find the "table of contents", and click on the relevant entry. And if you change your mind half way, you need to click as many time to get back to your old position. Well, no more of that. The "option" button makes the option to see/create/edit bookmarks/notes hovers. So click on that button, then tap on the option you want, and off you go. And if you decide to just continue reading your book from the previous position, a simple tap will bring you back.

Now, PRS-700 can do search and make notes. We need to clarify what it means by "search" and "notes".

If you are looking at your bookshelf, the "search" will search the term on the title of the book only. It wouldn't search the text within the book. I am not sure if it searches the author of the book. If you are reading the book, then search will search the text within that particular book.

And "notes" does not mean you can type your own notes. Nope. By "creating notes", it means that you are highlighting the text on your book, and if you go to the notes menu, all your highlights are displayed there, along with your bookmarks. This is probably the most confusing feature for me.

In total darkness, PRS-700 works like a charm. It comes with 2-setting lights that lights the screen nicely. The light is emitted from the left and right side of the screen. As a result, the text in the middle of the page is not as lighted-up as the side texts, but it's readable enough.

You do have to watch out your angle, though. If the light hits your eyes directly, you will see black spots before long.

Of course, if you use the lights, the battery will die faster. It only allows me to read 3-5 books of moderate length (Arsene Lupin Collection). With PRS-505 (no light), it took me about 1 week before I have to charge the battery. And I read extensively (4-5 hours a day).

Unfortunately, under general lighting, this one is worse than the previous model. It reflects lights, which means reading under the sun is a total no-no. You can see the reflection on the bottom left corner on the picture on the side.

And the deal-breaker is the contrast. PRS-505's white is light beige, and its black is black. For PRS-700, sadly, its white is a shade darker beige, and its black is grey. Which makes reading very tiring. I tried reading exclusively on PRS-700 for 1 day, and I can't survive. And that was only regular book with zoomed-in texts, not manga with super small fonts.

But I did get to learn new features with this model. Their "book collection" is prominently displayed on their home page, and that is one thing I love. Thankfully, I found out that even my PRS-505 has this capability. Now I can group my books by series such as "Sherlock Holmes", "Arsene Lupin", "The Three Investigators", etc. Note that grouping the books can only be done via Sony software on your PC. It's the same for both PRS-505 and PRS-700.

And since the light is so useful, I ended up buying a cover with lights for the 505 instead.

[photo to follow]

The light cover does not blur the texts, nor does it gray the texts out. It does reflect light, but you can just not use it with enough lights, and use it only in the darkness.

Oh, and did I mention that the external lights work better, even compared to the built-in lights in PRS-700? It uses 2 AAA batteries, too, so it doesn't suck your e-book battery power.

The PRS-505 costs $299 + tax
The cover with light costs $59 + tax
The PRS-700 costs $399 + tax

For me, 505 + external light combination is the most beneficial one for my need. I don't need fancy touch screen. And although it's annoying to click several times to get to where I want to, I can live with it. And the loading time and page-turning time does not bother me at all. That's why I refunded the PRS-700 and stick with 505 for now.

I know I am being picky with this review. But I am trying to get the biggest bang for my bucks, so to speak. Everyone has different needs, though. So think about what you want before committing yourself to one.

Hope this helps for those who are considering one!

Related links:
- E-book Reader: Sony Reader PRS-505
- Sony Reader Shortcuts


wordy smurf said...

thanks for the review.. It surely helps in deciding which one would fit me best.

appreciate it

Olivia Gautama said...

You are welcome. Hehehe.. remember.. not everyone needs an ebook reader. ^_^