November 8, 2008

Sony PRS-500 eBook Review - Part 3

Original Post on June 7th 2007
Install Sony CONNECT reader software from CD that comes in the box. Pretty slick, no problems.
UI decoration is a bit strange and at first I thought it was a Java app using those UI toolkits for Windows. Turns out it’s just Sony’s choice of look.

Connecting to CONNECT on-line store
CONNECT is the Sony iTunes store equivalent, with eBooks and music

I can’t get Sony CONNECT software to connect to Sony Connect store thru my firewall/proxy, so had to do this all from a location without.

The software and on-line store is almost a perfect clone of the Apple iTunes software and store, leveraging many UI concepts and organization. This makes it a quick learning process if you have an iPod and use iTunes and/or iTunes store.
They are similar almost to the point Apple could sue - but those heady days of GUI law suits seems to be over?

In the UI it also shows your local drives where you might have your own files (PDF etc) but I haven’t played yet with using CONNECT software to organize local content. It also shows separately the SD/MemStick slot on the eReader, something I complained about on the iRex iLiad.

Buying Books from Connect eBook Store
On-line book purchase MUST be done via your PC using the CONNECT software which connects to the SONY Connect store (i.e. no web purchase).
No direct purchase from the eReader device is possible. With only USB and MemoryCard interfaces and no Wi-Fi there is no real way to do that anyway that offers any advantage.
I assume they have avoided Wi-Fi for battery life concerns. They have taken many leaves out of the Apple iPod book.

iRex iLiad with Wi-Fi and their iDS (iRex Delivery System) system will be able to do this, when they have content.

The first step is to authorize your PC on the store (via the software).
Then you must authorize the eBook device connected to that PC by USB.
It allows up to six eBooks connected to each PC I think.
I have yet to understand the “portability” of content across PC’s and across eBooks.

I was struggling with the idea of spending my own money on buying an eBook for this test, but luckily due to the date I activated the eReader on I got a $50 coupon (plus 50 downloads from classics collection) for the Sony store that got me going.

The “classics” are out-of-copyright books they have remastered or acquired themselves.
They sell for $1.99 usually, presumably free to them (once remastered). Nice margins!
Hence the 50 downloads from the classics collection.

Once a book is bought and downloaded you then drag and drop it manually into the chosen eReader connected, and shown in the UI. This allows you to manage manually which books are taking up storage space on the eReader, you can remove books from device when read but keep them on your PC and reload them at a later date.

Once you have dragged and dropped into the eReader you can un-plug USB and start reading, as described in previous posts.

On the store the book covers are shown in color, but are reduced to monochrome on the eInk display. No Dilbert books on-line! :-( Bummer.

The store is not "dense enough", and you don't see as many books at a glance as you do tracks with the iTunes store or paper books on Amazon.
No recommendations like Amazon.

Online Book “Browsing”
I miss “browsing” like in a physical book store, where your legs do it for you.

So, to "discover" something you are almost obliged to do a search, and to *think*! :-(
So, not such a relaxing experience.

Also with this way of getting books (eBooks) there is no casual “finding” of books by seeing what others are reading, coming across one on people’s desks or bookshelves…etc

This is a subject I will come back to in later posts.

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