Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sony Digital e-Book Reader: PRS 505. Revew, specs and a solution for the lack of Unicode support


First of all, I did not realize that the reader already came with a jacket. It was not very clearly stated. So, I actually ordered an executive brown leather jacket for extra $25.

It took about 40 minutes for the initial charging during which PRS 505 is completely unresponsive. Then I powered it up. Very impressive! The text has very good resolution and the black color looks indeed quite black. It's like looking at a paper printout that has been placed under a thin layer of glass. Just as with an ordinary book, it is a good idea to have plenty of light. There is no back light or anything like that.

The Specs

  • displays eBooks purchased from the CONNECT eBook online store
  • displays Adobe® PDFs, plus TXT, RTF, BMP, JPEG, GIF, PNG and Microsoft® Word files
  • plays MP3 and AAC files (protected files not supported)
  • internal 192MB memory
  • memory slot holds an SD Memory Card (up to 2GB capacity) and Memory Stick® Duo media (up to 8GB capacity)
  • 800x600 resolution

  • Very light weight
  • High image quality
  • Good battery life
  • Plenty of memory + SD card slot. Sony has released a firmware update that allows the use of high capacity SD cards (4 gb and more!)

  • Black and white screen
  • No back light
  • No Unicode support
  • Somewhat difficult to navigate. This Sony Reader is also a little sluggish.
  • It is not always possible to zoom in as much as you'd want to. The level of zoom depends on individual books.
  • Difficult to navigate PDF files.
  • Haven't found a way to rotate the screen without going to the settings
One particular problem that I had to address right away was the lack of Unicode support. I often read texts with non-Latin characters. You can find firmware versions that can localize Sony Reader, but there is always a chance that you will end up with a brick. Why risk it? There is a free program that can take a text and save it as graphics (you can choose from a list of different formats). You can then make a PDF out of those file. Problem solved. This program was originally designed to create eBooks readable on mp3 players such as Sansa, iPod, Zune etc. But it works just as well for Sony Reader.