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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

eReader review - SONY POCKET PRS300

Out of all the eReaders I've used this is my favourite model - The Sony Pocket PRS300 is currently available for £99.99 making it a great deal - it's also a lovely machine to use and after reading one or two books it becomes second nature and sits comfortably in the hand.

Displaying Spanish PI by Nick Morton

My own machine (pictured) came in a limited edition midnight blue (the standard colours are silver and red) with a free leather case with the Alex Cross logo - there were also two James Patterson novels, featuring Alex Cross,  pre-loaded onto the device. A nice tie-in perhaps but I couldn't get through the books - I gave up on Cross Country after fifty pages - this guy may be one of the biggest sellers in the world but if this book is typical of his output then I'd don't see why. Frankly it was bloody rubbish. Short chapters, no characterisation and too many cliffhangers, seemingly three to a page.

Still it's the eReader I'm here to talk about not poor best sellers - and besides what do I know on that score? Patterson sells over a million and I sell over a dozen.

The five inch eInk display is brilliantly clear and there are three font sizes - small, medium and large. The picture above shows the medium setting. I've been using the machine constantly for a month or so and have had no eye strain whatsoever - it really is like reading text on paper. The highly advanced screen technology is gentle on the eye, with adjustable font sizes to improve readability.The E Ink® Vizplex™ display gives a more natural paper-like reading experience.With no backlight or flicker, you can read for hours in direct sunlight and at virtually any angle.

The main menu is simplicity itself and contains all the usual features - the ability to bookmark pages, delete books, browse by title, author and more. Battery life seems to be endless - I've yet to charge my machine after the initial charge and it's still going strong.

Because this is a basic model there is no Wi-Fi but downloading books to it via your computer is easy enough - however I did find the software that came with the device to be a bit clunky and I prefer to use the awesome open source program, Calibre. But then Calibre is also far better than any of the other eBook software I've seen. It wipes Adobe's Digital Editions off the map - look out for an article on the Calibre software soon.

The first book, after the 50 pages of Patterson of course, that I read on this was Alan LeMay's The Searchers and I enjoyed it as much as I would have if I'd read the physical book. In fact I think the eReader actually provides an easier reading experience than a book when out and about - and I do take the eReader everywhere with me since it's size means it will slip into the average jacket pocket. I'm currently half way through Stephen King's Under the Dome and I'm glad I went for the eBook option. The physical book is huge and carrying it around would have given me a hernia, but not only is it with me on this device but it also shares space with a couple of hundred other books and magazines.
Nice protective cover, shame about the novel
File support on the PRS-300 is good, letting you read EPUB (the mainstay of purchased content), PDF, TXT, RTF, DOC and BBeB formats. Unusually it copes with PDFs rather well, allowing you to resize text in multiple page documents.

Reading feels natural on the PRS-300. The quality of the device in your hand combines with the E Ink screen that just works. It is comfortable reading it in the same situations that you would a book. Some criticise the lack of its own illumination, but that's exactly the same as a real book and that's exactly the point. What you can do is sit next to a window on a train and still read it. No one moans about the lack of illumination on a phyisical book - if you want to read switch on the lamp.

There is no memory extension so your limited to 512 mb onboard but this is enough for more than 300 books - with the Sony Pocket it seems less is definitely more. What Sony have done is taken away all the frills to bring the price down and for a device intended just for reading this is a winner. It does what it says on the tin and it does it well. It is good that they haven't skimped on the unit itself and its feels strong and sturdy in the hand.

Is it a Kindle beater? Well, the Kindle's a fantastic device but then so is this. And maybe the Kindle has more trimmings but they are just trimmings and the fact that this supports ePub makes it, to my mind, preferable to the Kindle. Thought I must be honest I do think the Kindle's screen display looks slightly better but then that's just nitpicking.

PRS300 - I'm most definitely a fan of this compact little reader.

1 comment:

Oscar said...

Thanks for your review of this machine. I still haven't purchased a reader, but I'm absorbing the reviews of the different types, hoping to make up my mind when the coins fall in.