The Sony PRS-505 is Sony’s second-generation e-book reader. It uses the popular electronic paper display format made by E Ink Corporation, displaying an image in 166 dpi resolution, creating a real paper look. The device reads both Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF text files, and can play MP3 format sound files as well as display JPEG image files.The PRS-505 has been set up to go against the Amazon Kindle from the beginning and is said by many to have a little bit more features than its competitor. But let’s see for ourselves what the hype is about and users think about the device by the japanese company.
The Reader PRS-505 is smaller than you might expect. It measures 122mm wide by 175mm tall by 7.6mm thick and weighs 260g. It comes encased in a brown leather-look pouch that adds a little to the overall size and weight. You’ll need to carry the Reader in its pouch to avoid scratching the screen or casing, or otherwise damaging it. Magnets at the top and bottom edges of the pouch help to keep it closed when the device is in transit.
The Reader isn’t really pocketable — unless your pockets are capacious. Like a real book, it will normally need to be carried in a bag.
The screen is slightly smaller than the page size of a regular paperback book — just 6in. from corner to corner. There’s a trade-off between portability and usability here: a larger screen would make the device more unwieldy and heavier.
Sony’s ability to produce great design really comes to the fore in the Reader PRS-505, which is the most visually attractive device of its kind.
The Sony Reader PRS-505 handles various file formats, including RTF, Microsoft Word, TXT and PDF. It will also display JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP graphics, although its 8-greyscale display has obvious limitations in this respect.
The Reader PRS-505 can play music in MP3 and AAC formats (not DRM, though). There’s no speaker, so you’ll need to use headphones to listen to music. It also supports some specific eBook file formats — Sony’s proprietary BBeB and the more widely used EPUB. Sony has partnered with Waterstone’s to sell the Reader PRS-505 in the UK and the company has a catalogue of available e-books.
The Reader PRS-505 has 192MB of user-accessible internal memory, which is enough, says Sony, for around 160 eBooks. Sony supplies its own software for managing e-books, and you’ll need this to move content from your computer to the Reader. Mac OS users will be disappointed here: the PRS-505 only supports Windows (XP and Vista) systems.
The device would not read files we simply copied onto an SD card, which will irritate those who don’t like having too much third-party software on their computers. More importantly, it precludes obtaining files from computers that don’t have Sony’s software installed. You can’t for example, take an SD card containing an important document from a work colleague, pop it into the Reader’s card slot, and peruse the file.
I’ve noticed that many reviews of the Sony reader, Amazon’s Kindle, and other competing products, seem to focus extensively on the formats supported by the devices. While formats certainly matter, conversion between DRM-free formats is generally quite easy, and many books are available for each DRM protected format. Accordingly, I’m not too concerned with which devices support which formats.
That said, the PRS-505 supports TXT, RTF, PDF, etc., and Sony’s DRM protected format. One issue I have found is that PDFs designed for a full page will look considerably smaller on the PRS-505’s screen, but switching to landscape mode will help (as will converting to plain text or rich text, where possible). I certainly don’t think the readability of the PDFs is a bad as many other reviews have indicated.
Playback of DRM free AAC and MP3 files is supported; the volume control and head phone jack is on the bottom of the device, next to the USB port.
Sony’s PRS-505 is slim, sophisticated, and easy to use. The device is smaller and thinner than most paperbacks allowing it to be taken anywhere with ease. It’s cover fits well and it has a very sleek design. The button layout and display are very clear and concise, making navigation effortless between pages, books, or other medias. The ability to listen to MP3’s and display pictures is quite an added bonus and makes it a steal at the $300.00 price tag.
The eBook program allows for a simple and familiar sync to your PC and functions much like the program iTunes. You can simply drag and drop PDFs, Word documents, MP3s, or image files into the program and upon disconnecting view them on the reader. Purchasing books from eBooks is a quick process and they have an outstanding collection of titles.
There are very few complaints about the PRS-505 but I mainly don’t like that it lacks a keyboard. Without a keyboard you are unable to make notes or annotations and cant highlight particularly important sections for future reference. It doesn’t come with an AC adapter standard so you either need to purchase one or be forced to recharge the reader from a PC’s USB port.
Author: James Johnson
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