Friday, November 7, 2008

E-book Reader

I love reading. Specifically, I love reading fictions and mangas. Unfortunately, most mangas I like are not available in Canada. Fortunately, most of them are scanned and translated into English by their Japanese-reading fans. So there are lots of them online, if you know where to look for them.

Having lots of manga jpgs means that I can collect the ones I like. But since they are not real books, it's kinda hard to re-read the mangas I have. I don't have a desktop, and the LCD monitor hurts my eyes once I stare at it for a long time.

Knowing my addiction for books (and mangas), we did some research and decided to buy Sony Reader PRS-505. Yup, I got the red one. The reader acts like a glossy-paper book. So even under sunshine, you can read it without difficulties (supposedly... I cannot test this with Vancouver's weather).

Some people ask me why I don't buy Amazon Kindle. If you live in USA, you can search books on Amazon.com for free from anywhere (no wireless charge). You can also buy the e-book version of released books for cheaper.

But for me, one major drawback is that Kindle only reads 1 type of data, and that is Amazon's own data encryption. If you have pdf or word or jpg, you need to email them to Amazon for conversion. And if you want Amazon to email the converted files directly to Kindle, then you have to pay for the data transfer.

Sony Reader can read pdf, txt, epub, jpg, bmp, and png files. Of course, with 6-inch monitor, we didn't know how good the manga quality would be -- whether it would be readable or not. So we went and bought one for testing.

The manga is readable. It might be a bit on the small size, but for me, it's good enough. We found out that the reader refresh faster when turning a pdf file compared to loading new jpg. So I print all mangas into pdf file.

If you have pdf words, those words can be zoomed (there are 3 sizes available). But pdf images cannot be zoomed. So the mangas need to be single-paged (portrait).

Sony Reader does not read .doc file. That's understandable, since .doc files depend on Microsoft OS. So I print the Word document into pdf format using Primo PDF. I have mentioned before that pdf words can be zoomed in. However, the format of the zoomed in page changes and is unpredictable. I like my book display to be neat. So when printing the document into pdf, I changed the original format to the following:
- Paper Size = 8.5 x 11 (default Letter size)
- Margin = 0.25" for all Top, Bottom, Left, Right
- Font = Arial Rounded MT Bold, 22 pt
The settings above will allow me to read the files without having to zoom in.

A side note. When printing with Primo PDF, you need to change the Document Properties (Title and Author). Sony Reader does not read your filename to determine Title and Author. It reads the properties instead. These properties cannot be changed once you have the pdf file.

Yesterday, I borrowed e-book from the library. The e-book is in protected form; it has expiry dates etc. I couldn't figure out how to transfer the borrowed book to my reader, though. The reader gives me a "protected file" error. I will try again to see if I can find a solution for this.

This reader also plays MP3 and AAC files via headset. The quality of the sound is ok. I haven't tried it extensively, since it will drain the battery faster. (According to the specification, the battery will last for 7,500 page turns).

I would love to have a 7-inch screen one if one is available. As of now, all e-book readers have 6-inch screen though. Also, the page-turning time is a bit slow. But overall, I am satisfied with this reader.

Next week, Sony will release a new generation of Sony Reader, the PRS-700. This one comes with touch screen and an improved software, among other things. According to one review, the page turn is faster (it acts like a regular LCD screen). Chris is hooked on the "touch screen" part. I want to try the LCD-like page-turns. We plan to test and compare both of them before making a final decision in which one to keep.

Related links:
- Another E-book Reader: Sony PRS-700
- Sony Reader Shortcuts

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. Will wait for the update on the newer version.

Mike Cane said...

Reference: Optimize PDFs For Sony Reader

BTW, my write-up of the PRS-700 is not a review. And there is still a flash when turning the page, like the 505, only it's noticeably briefer.

Olivia Gautama said...

Thank you for the link and for the clarification. I can't wait for the new version to try.