Royce Eddington

Nothing to see here. Move along people.

Date: September 11, 2009

Sony PRS-505 : mini book review

10 words or less : Awesome for book junkies. Portable. Holds several books. Decent speed.

Sony PRS 505

Sony PRS 505

Long version: Ok, so it’s not a book review. It’s a book reader review. But this device is definitely a gateway drug for those of us who are book junkies. I just picked this up on clearance a few days ago, loaded it up, have been completely satisfied with it.

With the recent announcement of touchscreen-enabled readers, the Sony 505 I have is now officially the “previous generation” ebook reader. But the 505 is still being sold at retail outlets at a discounted price from the initial $299-$350 range.

The 505 works on a PC with the provided Sony reader software, but I found it much better to use a open source (free) program called Calibre to sync it on my PC as well as my Mac. (Sony does not provide Mac software for the 505, so Mac users will definitely have to install Calibre.)

There are tons of free books you can download, but you can also drag and drop in your own PDFs, Word files, LRF files (Sony reader files), and text files to read. You can also convert .mobi files through Calibre to use on the 505. MP3s and AACs audio files are also supported, as well as JPEGs, BMPs, PNGs and GIFs (which will only show in black and white on the 505 screen)

Reading with the 505 has been great. The 505 boots up instantly most of the time, and always to where you left off. The screen is very easy to see and the scalable font makes it easier to adjust the size of the text on screen to a comfortable level. The 505 also has fairly decent built in memory. I loaded 8 full books with plenty of room to spare. You can also add Sony’s Pro Duo or any SD memory cards to the expansion ports on top of the device if you want to carry your entire library with you.

The load and response times are very good. You can back up to a main menu where you can bookmark pages and pick up another book to read while keeping your place in the original book. You can also get a book’s Table of Contents (if it has one), sort by author, sort by title, sort by date or sort by collections. You can also listen to any music you uploaded while you are reading.

The 505 also lets you rotate the books horizontally, lock the device from unauthorized use, and make selections with the numeric row on the right column of the device.

The best part of the 505 is that is about the thickness of my 1st generation iphone, and about 7″ long by 5.25″ wide with the provided leather case attached. Very portable!

Now for the bad.

The 505 does not come with a charger. Sony does sell them separately, but you will have to charge the 505 out of the box from any USB port on your machine.

There is no backlight on the 505, so you can’t see the screen in dim light. Sony, conveniently, sells a very fancy cover/light combo separately as well.

Some very large or graphics intensive PDFs don’t like being scaled up or down and will take a loooooong time to refresh. This is a hit-or-miss problem, and I have only seen it once out of the 50 PDFs I tested.

Reading documents on the 505 is always decent, but nothing beats a document specifically formatted in LRF format for the 505. You can convert most anything to LRF with Calibre though.

All image files will only show in black and white on the 505 screen.

And finally, when you turn pages on the 505, there is a brief contrast change as the new page loads. You won’t notice it after a few pages of reading, but it is distracting to see at first.

But aside from that, I have no complaints.

Having books available to instantly read is a great way to pass the time. And while this is not the latest ebook reader from Sony, at its’ current reduced price, this could be something to get more people introduced (and hooked) on ebook systems.

I highly recommend the Sony 505. Four out of five stars.

And, very briefly, on a related topic, what do I think of the 505’s competition, the Kindle? They suck! Simply because they can delete any books you purchased at anytime without any warning or reason. The 505 won’t (and can’t) do that to you.

New Rules by Bill Maher : mini book review

10 words or less : Funny and sharp. Quick reading. Will probably offend most conservatives.

Bill Maher - New Rules

Bill Maher - New Rules

Longer version: “New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer”  by Bill Maher was in a local bookstore’s bargain bin. Since I haven’t finished unpacking, I picked it up to pass the time.

The book was easy reading, but I liked it. “New Rules” is a good intro to his sense of humor if you haven’t seen his HBO show. Part of the fun is how he obviously goes out of his way to offend people with highly conservative values. Most of his book is common sense, but he does fly off on a wild tangent every so often.

Unfortunately, like all standup comedian and talk show host books, the book uses an oversized font. Single one-thought paragraphs take up full pages. And the book’s sentences are more than double spaced. The entire thing should have been less than 114 pages, and not 228.

Aside from that, I thought it was good stuff.

Three out of five stars.

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