Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sony Reader PRS-505

It came! My Reader finally came in the mail! I was so excited I took unboxing pictures. I guess I'll give a first-impression review of the Reader while I show you unboxing pictures.

I feel the need to apologize for the poor quality of these pictures. C'mon, I'm just a kid with an old camera taking pictures in a poorly lit room. Don't judge me. (Also, I was too excited to take the time and get nice shots.)

I know for a fact they make shipping boxes that are smaller.

First off, I was impressed that my Reader came to me halfway charged. It's like Santa remembering the batteries to your new Gameboy. It takes a little bit to start up, but it's no worse than waiting for a game console to turn on and load a game. The thing weighs about as much as a (sorry for the analogy) paperback edition of Twilight, so it isn't that much heavier than a normal book. Wait, no, I take that back; it's a lot heavier than a normal book, but it's hardly noticeable.

Reader in a box.

It came already with a few excerpts from books, along with all of Pride and Pejudice. The excerpts:
- The Age of Turbulence, Alan Greenspan
- The Lucky One, Nicholas Sparks
- Marley & Me, John Grogan
- Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin
I already had Pride and Pejudice in my library of ebooks to put on my Reader, so I thought it interesting that it was already there. It also came with 3 jpeg images, and 2 MP3 files. I'm pretty sure the MP3s are the same song, just one is jazzy and the other is a lullabye.

And from that box, another box.

Navigating is intuitive, I don't know what everyone's complaining about. You can use the number buttons to select, or you can use the D-Pad on the bottom right, with the middle button as select. Pressing menu takes you up one menu (I think of it as a back button), or you can hold it to go to the home menu. The zoom button zooms the text, the bookmark button bookmarks, and the page turn buttons turn pages. There is no mystery here at all. I must be the first person below 40 to own one of these things, I guess.

The Reader in its cover in some plastic in a box. Next to the guides.

The Reader itself is quite handsom. Maybe it's just because I chose the dark blue color, but it feels professional, and not at all like a dinky toy. (I found the Kindle to feel like a dinky toy, by the way.) There are actually quite a few buttons on here, but the design makes it feel almost minimal. The color is black in most light, and the buttons are made out of a different material, so they are always just dark blue. It makes for an interesting effect. I keep forgetting how very little power this thing uses, and I expect it to heat up in my hands. But it doesn't, it stays cold and unloving all the time. Which creates an interesting juxtaposition to my iPod, which overheats at the drop of a hat.

Some clever box origami hides the cables and installation CD.

My biggest complaint with the design is the chrome at the top and the bottom of the Reader. It looks gorgeous with the dark blue, but it gathers unsightly fingerprints like nobody's business. The edges of the chrome also reflects a horrible glare from my reading lamp, blinding me when I try to read. I've placed a sticky note over the worst of it, but now there's a stupid sticky note on my Reader. This is only a temporary solution until I move off to college and my favorite reading place will change.

It's got that fresh gadget smell to it.

The cover it came with is really very clever. It clips onto the Reader very strongly, preventing it from falling out but still allowing it to pivot on the spine. It's touch to take it out of the cover, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you are. There are weak magnets on both the front and the back of the cover that stick to the Reader itself. It makes a delightful clasping sound when you close it that I absolutely love. But the magnets are too weak to really keep the cover closed in, say, a bag with a lot of loose items. The biggest flaw with the cover is that when I pick it up, I'll accidentally press the number buttons on the Reader. It isn't a huge problem, though.

After this picture, I was too busy reading to take any more.

The reading experience is wonderful. The loading time between pages isn't at all a bother, even when you're flipping through pages to find your spot in a book. I forget a lot that I'm not reading an actual book, and I keep adjusting my sitting position so that I can turn pages easier, even though I don't need to. I've yet to try a PDF, since I've been converting all of my PDFs to the .lrf format, but I imagine it can't be too bad. Changing font size is a bit of a bother, since I have to do it every time I open a book, and it takes a while to load when it is a larger book. But it's either take a moment to load a larger font, or take a moment to grab my reading glasses.

Overall, I'm happy with the Reader. It's exactly as I expected, but that's only because I've read and watched dozens of reviews. I'll be turning to this gadget when I want to read books, as opposed to turning toward my local library.

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