Goddbye Sony. Hello Kindle.

I while back I bought a Sony PRS-505 eBook reader. I’d contemplated the slowly growing eBook market for a while, I’d heard good things from the US about the Kindle, and I thought it about time I dipped a toe in the water.

After reviewing the eBook landscape I plumped for the Sony. The Kindle was still pricey and didn’t have a separate UK store; The Nook hadn’t been released; Sony used ePub, an open XML-based standard. The touch screen Sony PRS-700 had just been released but was getting somewhat mixed reviews, with some users pointing out that pushing greasy fingers over a surface you’re supposed to read was bound to cause a few problems, so I opted for the Sony PRS505 which had had very good reviews when it first came out.

Since then I’ve been disappointed with it for the following reasons:

  • Speed
  • Display
  • Lack of integration with store

Taking them in turns:

Speed

The page turn isn’t fantastically quick but it’s quick enough not to be a problem. However. My PRS-505 can be unbelievably slow to display the index of books when it first starts up after being switched off and it can also be very, very slow when loading a book. It didn’t take quite as long as the time needed to make a coffee but it was getting on for that. If you change the font size of the display then the book would be repaginated and I would experience that very long wait again.

Display

The e-ink display was supposed to be about the best around when I bought the device but it is still disappointingly grey. I don’t suppose this irritation is confined to Sony eReaders

Lack of integration with store

I buy my books from Amazon. But Amazon was competing with Sony and had the Kindle so I couldn’t buy books from Amazon to read on the PRS-505. I didn’t want to open another book-buying account with another seller; and then, Google announced the availability of thousands of freely downloadable ePub books which Sony made accessible but only through their US store, at least to begin with. That was frustrating. I reinstalled the Sony software and claimed to live in the US just to be able to access the free classics Google was making available.


And now the new Kindle is out. It’s significantly reduced in price. It has WhisperSync, which allows you to pick up reading where you left off on different devices; it has free 3G and WiFi to allow you to contact the Amazon store wherever you happen to be, whenever you want to buy a book. It’s Amazon – and that’s where I buy my books. It’s a smaller device, it looks smarter, it has better battery life, the display is better…and Amazon will allow non-DRMd eBooks to be sold in their store if that’s what the publisher wishesl Sony won’t. And it uses Amazon as a permanent store for all your books.

So it’s the new Kindle for me. I might be just as disappointed by Christmas with the Kindle as I was with the Sony; but I think this iteration of the device might be the the one that tips me over into buying the bulk of my books as eBooks in future. I hope so.