in TX for the end of this week, and was able to pick up a Sony eReader PRS-505 (they haven't found their way to WI yet). it's a grayscale device for reading ebooks, audio, and pictures. anyway, i've been wanting to really give ebooks an attempt with a subscription to an ebook service and a device. bought a UMPC earlier thinking that was going to be my new reading device. but i dont really like it for reading. it works best in landscape mode, and i prefer to read portrait. not to mention heat, noise, battery life. but where the UMPC excels is that it supports all the formats i want to read.
back to the eReader. my initial impression is that the hardware is solid but the software needs alot of work. hardware is thin and light. even with a protective cover, its thin and light. battery life is some ridiculous number of page turns. e-ink seems easy to read ... but i need to try some marathon reading sessions to judge eye strain. MemoryStick and SD card support for tons of storage. screen size could be bigger, but its not too small. it doesnt come with an AC adapter because it can charge over USB ... nice. initial setup was easy and the internal memory just shows up as an external drive!
the sample books are some format i dont know. these books work best on the device and allow for 3 levels of zoom. not sure why its only 3 levels of zoom, they should let people crank it up to be really large print. when i copied some PDFs over, they display fine, but were unreadable (font was too small) because the zoom and re-pagination didnt work. i'm assuming i have to use the eReader software to convert to the other format for zoom and proper pagination? so it seems like PDF is a native format, but you really need to convert it to make it usable. that sucks. but since i have to convert CHM files anyway, it looks like conversion is the rule. also, the title displayed was sometimes metadata for the file and not the actual file name (i'd prefer to see both). for files without TOC, i'd like for it to attempt to derive one on its own. music played fine. didnt look hard, but it wasnt obvious where you could set music to shuffle or sequential. pictures were good too (grayscale). what was nice is you could play music while you were reading or looking at pictures. not sure if you are able to skip tracks while reading a page OR if you have to go to the 'now playing' screen first? also not sure if the pictures functionality supports folders, to where i could make a folder for an unzipped CBR (comic book) file. anyway, will have to try conversion programs when i get home to make my ebooks readable ... and then read through some to know if its a keeper (or not).
overall, i like the hardware, but the software needs a ton of work. i should just be able to copy over PDF files and CHM files and they should work without any conversion (including zoom). that would entail it support CHM at all. i'd also like for it to support LIT, HTM/MHT, CBR, ... it needs alot better format support. and if the eReader doesnt support it natively, at least make the sync software support all the formats. it sucks that i have to go buy a 3rd party CHM converter ... or write my own.