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Kindle, too

I’ve become such a true convert to electronic book reading since I bought my Sony reader at the start of the year, that I for once managed to come up all on my own with a gift idea for my wife on her birthday. (Never mind that her birthday is more than a month away, useful gifts don’t have to wait until specific dates, IMHO.)

Although I am mostly happy with my PRS-505, the fact that it’s been discontinued by Sony quite some time ago makes the price for a new unit available somewhere on eBay entirely outlandish. The new Kindle 3, conversely, is priced within my range of “inexpensive enough to no longer count as a fancy purchase”. Plus, it has native support for non-Latin documents (which did not exist on older versions of either Kindle or Sony). Kindle was a hands-down obvious choice to get for Natasha.

I played with it for a while myself – to better set myself up as a support-desk contact for when my lovely wife runs into tech problems. In short, I like it well enough. I might have gone for it instead of my Sony if the Cyrillic support existed natively before.

Its body is slightly bigger than that of PRS-505, but it is a bit lighter and thinner. I am not too crazy about the interface, but I happen to find faults with Sony’s as well. I doubt Natasha will ever truly need the Wi-Fi capability, so even though I had a bit of problem connecting the device to my home network, I find it hard to care about that. The screen looks crisp, the page-flip buttons are located fairly conveniently, the reading experience seems pleasant enough.

The only true problem I found so far is in its handling of PDF files. On my Sony, if I want to increase the font size while reading a PDF, the file gets reformatted so that I get multiple pages for each one page of the PDF. I end up flipping three of four pages for each one in the original PDF, but it remains a book-reading experience – the only hint that I am still reading the same page is the page counter on the bottom which stays the same with most page flips. On the Kindle, when I want to increase the size of the font of the same exact file, it performs a zoom-in action, displaying a portion of the page on the screen while having me use scroll bars to get to the other parts of the page. Reading consecutive lines while scrolling right and left is entirely impractical.

Good thing one can always convert files between formats – so Natasha will simply avoid PDFs.

Overall, I have no doubt she’ll enjoy her new gadget just as I have been enjoying mine.

Kimmy, by the way, is asking for one as well. Becky is the only reading-able member of the family who maintains her resistance. Something about being able to easily flip a few pages back to check on a specific passage that occurred earlier in the book…

Posted in Technology

5 Comments

  1. Vince

    I’m considering getting a Kindle, but I still have a problem with proprietary formats for books. I could have more books than what I have room for in my apartment if I owned a Kindle, but if Amazon ever decides to stop making Kindle devices and software, I’d lose all those books in Kindle format. And that would annoy me. A lot.

  2. Shawn Powers

    I had the PRS-505 before our house fire, and replaced it with the PRS-300. I love the 300 much more than the 505. It has the same great interface, but it’s smaller.

    The only thing I dislike about the Kindle is the interface. It will read non-DRM books fine, like the Sony, but I find the interface very awkward and slow.

    Still, whatever you choose — ebooks are actually viable now. It’s nice to live in the future. 🙂

  3. Ilya

    Vince, there are several applications available – CaLibre is freeware that is pretty sophisticated – that can convert e-book formats from anything to anything. You will not lose your books simply for lack of reading device for a specific format as long as you store them not only on the device.

    I don’t know for a fact if a DRM book would “disallow” conversion or somehow mess it up for display on a different device, but I am inclined to think that apps like CaLibre know how to handle that. If I ever get a DRM book, I will definitely try to see what happens.

    Shawn, I am not too crazy about Sony’s interface either – there are too many “clicks” for some simple tasks, I hate how “sort by author” does not actually mean that I can browse authors in alphabetical order (instead, it gives me the list of all books sorted by two parameters – author name first, book name second), etc. Kindle does many things differently, and some things, such as getting from the main book list back to the last page that you have read in your current book, is more direct, but there are other annoying things, such as moving through lists and options, that are done less than optimally. Neither of these devices nailed down the interface, IMHO.

  4. Brian Greenberg

    FYI: there are two kinds of PDF’s – PDF’s that are images of the original texts and PDF’s that are actually encoded as text by Adobe Acrobat (or whatever created them). My experience with the former is as you describe above (zoom with scrollbars), but my experience with the latter is much more of what you describe on the Sony (additional pages).

    That said, it doesn’t seem to be 100% consistent, and often it’s hard to tell what kind of PDF you have until you try…

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