Should I buy a Sony Reader? I'm on Mac and in Australia.
December 19, 2007 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Should I buy a Sony Reader? I'm on Mac and in Australia.

Background: I'm a Palm addict, I've owned five or six now and the most recent one just died on me.

And the thing is, I only really use it to read. I spend a fair bit of time on public transport, I love to read, and every day I download online content from places like the NYT, Guardian, Salon, Slate, and there's always a couple of Project Gutenberg novels in there (I use Sunrise and Plucker if anyone wants to know).

So, the obvious choice, because it's designed purely for reading, is the Sony Reader. It looks great.

But it's technically only available from Sony in the USA and I'm in Australia. Plus I'm on Mac mostly, and there's no desktop software for Macs it would appear.

So, will I be able to buy one and get it shipped internationally? Anyone done it? And will I be able to put content onto it from a Mac, or will I always have to get to a PC to do it, which would be annoying. It has some kind of SD slot, I believe.

And can I just load my own HTML into it anyway? I don't want their e-books or whatever they'll try to flog me. It says it can load "blogs, newsfeeds" etc, but does that mean I can just chuck my own scraped NYT pages onto it, like I do with the Palm, and read like I was using a browser to read local files?

Lastly, I don't suppose there's anything else even remotely like it? I definitely don't want a Kindle, I know that. But if there's some kind of hack, like putting Knoppix on a Toys 'R' Us Barbie computer or some random thing like that which could get me a decent handheld book-reading device, I'd love to hear about it.
posted by AmbroseChapel to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
 
Why not a Kindle? Not supported in Australia? Don't like the physical design? The three people I know who have one adore it.
posted by madmethods at 8:26 PM on December 19, 2007


I will try hooking mine up to my pppowerbook tonight and see if I can dump content on to it, I suspect I'll be able to but don't know about the process. The biggest problem will be buying content through the connect store on a Mac. I suppose you can always run parallels and do stuff that way if you need to.


BTW, the reader is simply awesome, I'm addicted to it.
posted by iamabot at 8:34 PM on December 19, 2007


I have a Sony Reader, I use my PC to load content on it, and I use it for e-books only (not html content).

First of all, the Sony Reader is designed to read e-books, not web content. There is no way to follow links, it's difficult to switch between the content loaded in the device, and the screen is best used for text only rather than complicated or graphics-intensive content. There is no built-in support for rendering HTML, and even the PDF support is a little sketchy.

With that said, I love my Sony Reader, because all I use it to do is read books. It's basically a virtual book, flick a switch and the display comes on instantly to the last page you were reading. There are buttons to turn the pages, and you can go back to the menu and select another book. All of that works flawlessly and the display is great for reading text.

You might want to check out MobileRead, which is a meeting place all kinds of people who read content on mobile devices. They have a wiki page with e-book reader info, and a forum section dedicated to recommending different readers for different users.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:35 PM on December 19, 2007


>Why not a Kindle? Not supported in Australia? Don't like the physical design?

Yes, and yes, basically.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:48 PM on December 19, 2007


>There is no way to follow links, it's difficult to switch between the content loaded in the device, and [...] there is no built-in support for rendering HTML

It's not built in? But there is some way to do it? Curiouser and curiouser. Could you elaborate?

I don't want to read complicated or graphic-intensive content. I just scrape the print-friendly versions of websites or read Gutenberg novels in plain text. But if it can't even follow links, that's a deal-breaker.

What do they mean by telling you you can read blogs and newsfeeds?

Thanks for the links.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:53 PM on December 19, 2007


I have a PRS-500. I second everything said in this thread. And I have to say, the epaper display is phenomenal -- a totally different experience than backlit screens.

A few other things:

The internal MP3 player is somewhat limited, feature-wise, but sounds absolutely amazing. I find that with the right background music and a decent text, I completely forget that I'm not reading a real book. It's great.

The screen does have slight ghosty artifacts when you turn pages. Some people online don't like them, but they've never, ever bothered me.

I use Connect to get content onto it. Text files and text-only PDFs are great. Lots of people have written programs to scrape RSS feeds onto the thing (and more). Text is good.

Graphics are lame. Forget graphics. They look bad and don't scale well.

I am currently in financial trouble (grad school... ugh) and I am quite seriously going to list my device on eBay. If you want to buy it from me directly, I'll sell it for a bit less and I'll work with you to ship it to AU as cheaply as possible. I'm also willing to do fiddly stuff like throw some content you provide on an SD card and take a picture of it, etc.
posted by fake at 8:56 PM on December 19, 2007


Yeah, you can't follow links. You could scrape up plaintext stuff and read it, but since it has no internet connection and is basically only a reading device, clicking on links kinda doesn't make sense.
posted by fake at 8:58 PM on December 19, 2007


Why not a Kindle?

Because its not worth the money, yet. I've used one. It really is a confused mess, with a good idea at its core. I would wait for the inevitable redesign.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:59 PM on December 19, 2007


Interesting offer, fake. You have such a trustworthy username too!

I think the HTML thing is going to be a deal-breaker though. I like to read, but I read more articles than novel-length texts.

Some of those other e-Ink based readers look very promising though.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:07 PM on December 19, 2007


I guess I don't understand your objection -- articles are more or less the perfect reading case for the Reader. Scrape the text+formatting, bam, read it on your Reader! You can't click links because there's no 'net -- for that you need some other device entirely.

I was just poking around the MobiRead forums, and the homebrew there is making me reconsider selling the device. Maybe I should just sell my cameras instead. I'm not sure. I am still willing to do what I said above though, I'll load some stuff and take pics for you, no problem.

("fake" comes from being the CEO of a fictional corporation/project (The Fakeproject Corporation of America), and i do like the total lack of authenticity it exudes)
posted by fake at 9:29 PM on December 19, 2007


>I guess I don't understand your objection -- articles are more or less the perfect reading case for the Reader. Scrape the text+formatting, bam, read it on your Reader! You can't click links because there's no 'net -- for that you need some other device entirely.

Links aren't limited to online content, they're just travelling between two documents. No reason why they shouldn't be two local documents.

Say at the moment I have a hundred articles each from Salon, Slate, The NYT and the Guardian. At the moment I navigate to the front page of the NYT, go to the Books Section because I feel like reading that section, read a list of individual book reviews and pick one. If I had a reader, would I have them all flattened out into one long 400-item list? Less than ideal, you've got to admit.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:37 PM on December 19, 2007


Because its not worth the money, yet.

funny how all the ebay buyers seem to have got that wrong
posted by b1tr0t at 9:44 PM on December 19, 2007


You're right.
posted by fake at 9:45 PM on December 19, 2007


It does support internal document links although I haven't played with them much and don't know their limitations.

Check out libprs500, it's an open source collections of utilities to copy lrf books to and from the device, and to convert a variety of formats to the native lrf format. It also includes a utility to scrape a website and create a book.

It's written in python and Macs are supported.

I have one and love it. I don't use it to buy new ebooks but rather scrape the web and convert books from Project Gutenberg. It is a bit pricey and only you can decide if it's worth it. I lucked out and bought a PRS-500 for $50 via a deal with Visa.

The new model, PRS-505 is superior in many ways; better screen, better case, faster response time. I also recommend checking out the MobileRead forums, you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about ebook readers.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:01 AM on December 20, 2007


I haven't read through all the posts, but I'd like to point out one huge difference between the Reader and Kindle, the one main thing that sold me on the Kindle. With the Kindle, you can download books while away from your computer (it comes with "wifi"), while the reader does not have that option (gotta be at your computer).
posted by Sufi at 6:53 AM on December 20, 2007


With the Kindle, you can download books while away from your computer (it comes with "wifi")
Except it's not wifi, it's "Whispernet" 8211; Amazon's name for the Sprint EVDO network 8211; which I doubt will work in Australia.
posted by Utilitaritron at 8:23 AM on December 20, 2007


I don't want to turn this into a discussion on the Kindle.

I understand that it has that wireless connectivity, and moreover that it's locked into Amazon. It seems to me like a seriously ugly Reader where you pay (too much) extra for the connectivity/bandwidth and DRM. And I don't normally impuse-buy books anyway. I can wait till I get home!

Above all that there are the questions over the EVDO availability, and there isn't even an amazon.com.au store to hook it up to, so it's definitely not for me.

I guess if they officially launched and supported it here, and released a new version which didn't look like someone crushed a Jetta and installed a screen in the wreckage, I'd consider it.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:55 PM on December 20, 2007


funny how all the ebay buyers seem to have got that wrong

Just wait until they pick it up and accidentally turn the page yet again...
posted by R. Mutt at 9:44 AM on December 21, 2007


« Older 2.2Ghz vs. 2.4 Ghz. Can it possibly be worth an...   |   Does emusic use watermarking ? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.