My kids love to ski. I don’t. So, on our weekend skiing trip, I had ample opportunities to use my new reading gadget, whiling the time away at the lodge.
Overall, I am happy with my choice. I like the design and the feel of the reader, the user interface and the navigation is simple enough, and the reading experience is not at all taxing on the eyes. There are few bells and whistles beyond plain book-reading, but I neither care to listen to music while I read nor have any interest in carrying grayscale versions of my favorite photos on the device. Absence of 3G connectivity (and of the ability to buy and download books on-the-go) does not bother me in the least.
PRS-505 is not as small as to fit into an average shirt or jacket pocket, but a ski jacket provided me with a perfect compartment for it, and on other occasions I think I’ll be fine carrying it in a bag. On the other hand, I wanted the device with at least a 6″ screen, and I appreciate the fact that its navigation buttons do not demand too much of “dead” space around the screen to be accommodated.
Since this particular model is no longer being produced by Sony, it makes little sense for me to go into a detailed review. Let’s just say that if it was still freely available in the stores, I’d lean to strongly recommending it to others.
It is not without shortcomings, though. The one that bugs me the most is that there does not seem to exist an option to select the initial font size when the book is first formatted for reading. The device defaults to “small”, while I find “medium” more acceptable. Pressing the font change button causes the book to be re-formatted, which can take 15-20 seconds. Having the formatting process run twice before I start reading is a minor annoyance.
The device also self-reboots on me occasionally. In fact, when the “currently reading” value exists and I want to change to a different book, the reader is certain to reboot during “new” book’s formatting. After it restarts (45-60 seconds), the “current” book is no longer marked, and the formatting goes ahead without a problem. But with one book, I could not make the font larger, as the device kept rebooting during each “second” re-formatting. I am willing to attribute this as a side effect of russification, but I need to play with various formats to find out if it can be overcome. Strangely, I have all of the books on the device currently in its native .lrf format, which I least expected to cause me problems.
[update 02/26] After playing with different formats for a couple more days, I can conclude that initial formatting step (as well as re-formatting for font size change) is specific to native Sony .lrf book format. The involuntary reboot is definitely due to using .lrf with the russification hack – it does not occur with other formats. I do not have much of a choice if I want to be reading Russian books, because support for .epub format is currently limited enough so that I’d have to perform manual task of font embedding into each ePub file, and PDF does not really do it for me (table of contents gets dropped during conversion to PDF; re-sizing of the font size does not re-page the document, but simply breaks one page into two or three with the bottom of the initial page occupying just the portion of the screen and breaking off in mid-sentence – very disorienting), so I’ll probably ignore the few annoyances that .lrf causes me now. For an English-language-only user, seems like ePub format offers the best reading experience with practically no downside. [/update]
So, no, not perfect. On the other hand, I’ve yet to see a device of any kind that would not cause me some sort of annoyance design- or performance-wise. I have already practically recouped the money I spent to buy the reader by saving on skiing rental equipment and two days of lift passes for myself. Ability to not do something I don’t especially enjoy while generally accompanying the kids and keeping myself entertained – priceless!