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★ebook Readers

Has anyone purchased or used an ebook reader?

I hadn’t seriously considered an ebook reader until the other day when I started reading a book I’d downloaded on my monitor. Less than half a chapter in and I realized that I was killing my eyes, back and neck for the sake of saving a few pieces of paper. Purchasing the physical book was an option but I couldn’t find it in any of the bookstores over here (Australia) so I’d be paying double because of shipping and mightn’t receive it for weeks.

I printed the book out two pages per sheet, two chapters at a time. Each two chapters was roughly 30 pages (15 sheets of A4 paper) and at first I didn’t realize how much paper or ink I would need. 18 chapters in and I was ready for bed. I gathered the chapters together and was amazed at the huge stack of paper I’d ‘wasted’ by printing out this book.

I thought about the HUGE amount of ebooks I’d downloaded to read (Thanks in part to Project Gutenberg) and my plans for the Christmas / New Year period (roughly three weeks away and every intention of spending the majority of it reading) and decided to fight my tiredness and do a little research into ebook readers.

I was surprised at the almost complete lack of options. I came across only a few that seemed like serious contenders. The Amazon Kindle , the ILiad and the Sony PRS-500

The Amazon Kindle didn’t look to be available to anyone outside of the US. The ILiad looked great but was incredibly expensive, the Sony PRS-500 was now one generation old, available second hand and still did everything I wanted it to do. I was sold.

The problem was that Sony doesn’t want overseas sellers to ship to Australia as they’d rather profit from charging double the price when selling the same thing locally. I’d found a few places that shipped the PRS-505 but it was the newer and thus more expensive version and thanks to the sliding AUD (We were nearly one for one with the USD just weeks ago!!!) it was priced well above what I was prepared to pay.

Finally I found an eBay seller that was still selling new PRS-500’s and was willing to ship to Australia. I was sold and purchased using the impulse buyer’s favorite eBay feature, the “Buy It Now” button.

I’m following the delivery via the net and know that it was shipped the day my payment went through (Much more efficient than the average Aussie eBay shop I have to say) so I’m hoping to receive it before the end of next week and I can’t wait!

I’ll give you all an update as soon as it arrives but until then, I’d love to hear your experiences with this fancy new technology they call ePaper!

“How easy it is in our life, to miss what’s being offered.” — Paul Haller

I just learned something new. I have the same problem with reading books on the computer and the same problem using so much paper printing it so that I can take it to bed.
I have never heard of an ebook reader and am very interested to know exactly what it is.

An ebook reader is an device built around electronic paper (wikipedia link) It’s basically a thin digital panel without a backlight so you don’t get sore, tired computer eyes from using it. It literally looks like a shiny piece of paper, kind of like the overhead projector paper we used before video projectors were invented :P

From what I know, aside from the obvious benefit of being easy to read, the e-paper only requires power when the display changes. Because of this a single battery charge on a PRS-500 (the older generation sony ebook reader, the one I’ve purchased) can last up to 7000 ‘page turns’.

My PRS-500 arrived yesterday but I missed the courier as I had my head deep inside some work, by the time the pounding at the door got through into my ‘zone’ it was minutes later and all that was left of the postman was a parcel pickup slip. Oops!

Anyway, I picked it up this morning and had a quick play with it, then had to get some work done so I let it charge up properly. I picked it up again tonight and have read about 100 pages on it so far and I must say it is FANTASTIC!

The included software doesn’t work on Linux or Mac so I’m transferring files using an SD card. I’ve found PDF documents don’t work so well as the text size is too small to read comfortably. I’ve been using plain text files and with these it works PERFECTLY!

I’m doing some research on a few things I’m writing about and so I’ve been using it to read articles from web sites. A quick copy and paste into a text file, copy it over to the reader and then sit back with a cup of tea. Fantastic!

I’ve also got a lot of books ready to read that I downloaded from Project Gutenberg and they are all plain text files. I’ve had a quick flick through a few of them and they work perfectly too!

The device is incredibly well built, very solid. There’s a lot of buttons all over the place, apple would have done away with 90% of them in the name of simplicity and whilst it would definitely LOOK better without all the messy buttons, the device is very functional and the controls are well placed.

At first I was disappointed that PDF files don’t work so well, but I’ve found a few programs to convert PDF files to plain text files. This doesn’t work on all PDF files, and when it does work it isn’t 100% but it’s usually just the fancy chapter headings and drop caps that don’t come through so you can still figure out what’s going on, and even if you can’t you only miss a few words.

Here’s what it looks like. This isn’t my photo, AFAIK it’s from the original Sony press release. It comes with a really nice protective cover too. (Not shown)

So far I’m very happy with my purchase and highly recommend the PRS-500. The newer model (PRS-505) has some cool features like line re-wrapping and the ability to delete files from the device (rather than using software) but I couldn’t justify the price difference. Maybe when I start making some more money I’ll upgrade, but for now I’m very happy and can’t wait to get back to it (Still got about 30 pages left to read tonight!)

I’m in Australia and Sony are charging DOUBLE the US price for the same reader. Sony USA won’t ship to Australia because of this, but I found a few eBay sellers that would. If anyone is interested in one of these devices I’d recommend looking on eBay first as you could save yourself a lot of money!

“How easy it is in our life, to miss what’s being offered.” — Paul Haller

a coworker bought one about a month ago, looks very sleek and there is no backlight so its very good for your eyes, he stopped using it a week later because it was an impulse purchase plus he’s dyslexic :P

A dyslexic buying an ebook reader, you have to admire his determination :)

Thanks Lee, I am now fully informed about ebook readers. In fact I might buy one as I download a lot of information from the net in the form of books.

No problems goddess :)

Just a bit of an update, I still love my reader a week on. I do end up spending some time formatting and converting documents but I’ve written a small script to help with that.

The screen is VERY easy to read off, and I’ve found some good sites that offer free books in compatible formats. One of which is Feedbooks

I have found a couple of features missing that would have been handy, mostly the smart wrapping of pdf text documents and epub format support. These are both features in the newer PRS-505 model, but I still don’t think it justifies the price increase.

All in all I love my PRS-500 and couldn’t recommend it enough!

“How easy it is in our life, to miss what’s being offered.” — Paul Haller

Hello all, I happen to have a blog entry or two that might help you out. Please read it at http://techno-junkie.blogspot.com/2008/04/ebook-reading-simplified.html

It’s my experience with ebooks. I think that between Lee’s experience and mine, we can help virtually anyone. There is also a link in the post to instructions on creating your own audiobooks.

Both help me tremendously and I hope they help you.

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