Eyes and Ears

december 27, 2008

sonyprs505-1 Welp, Christmas is over.  I got a stash of loot including The Dark Knight on Blu-Ray and a cool Speed Racer Lego set from  my wife (and something else, mentioned later); Batman PJs from my sister and brother-in-law; a fatherly-looking robe that is really warm and cash from my parents.  The biggest gifts I got where for my eyes and ears. The big gift from my wife was a Sony PRS-505 electronic book reader.  And the gift cash from my parents went to getting a Sony STR-DG720 receiver to replace my aging Sony STR-SL-7. The receiver sounds like heaven when compared to my old one.  I didn't pay extra to get the STR-DG820 for DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD decoding because my PS3 does the decoding itself.  All I have to do is send the LPCM stream over to the receiver and it will pump out all that uncompressed PCM goodness to my 6.1 speaker setup.  Games sound better.  Movies sound better.  The addition of the sixth speaker in the back really didn't make that much of a difference, but that's OK. When Sony originally released the PRS-500 and I laid eyes on the screen at Borders, I was sold.  If you have seen the screen, you know why.  The screen has no refresh, it looks like paper and is really easy on the eyes.  When the PRS-505 came out, I wanted it but never got it.  Then the PRS-700 was announce and I waited.  At the time the PRS-505 was released, the Amazon Kindle was also released.  Why didn't I ask Santa (ie. wife)  for the Kindle instead? First, it is fugly and white plastic.  For a device that is to be held for hours, white plastic may not be the best material to make the device in.  And I'm sorry, the ugly stick hit the Kindle two or three times.  The Sony Reader is elegant, minimalistic and when wrapped in its faux-leather cover looks like a book.  The body of the Sony Reader also looks like it was carved out of a single piece of metal, very cool. Second, is DRM lock down.  Yes, you can put non-DRM Mobipocket and text files directly on the Kindle.  But, if you want to put PDFs, Word, HTML, JPEG, GIF, or PNG files on there, you have to email the files to Amazon who will then convert it for you.  The files can then be transferred automatically back to the Kindle at a cost of 10c per item.  Of course, you can be stingy and have the files sent to you via email, then you can put them on the device via USB for free. With the Sony Reader, I can drop PDF, ePub, RTF, JPEG, GIF, TXT, LRF, and PNG files directly on the device and it will pick them all up.  What's better is that it supports ePub (the new ebook standard) and also Adobe's Digital Editions.  By supporting Adobe's Digital Editions, that opens up the market for books to not just Sony's eBook Store, but all stores that support Adobe Digital Edition.  And on top of that, there is a growing number of libraries that have digital versions of books online in Adobe Digital Edition format (like the San Jose Library).  This allows me to check out books from the library for free.  Not too shabby and great for cheapies like me.  This sounds strange, but Sony opened up their reader device and I appreciate that. Sure, the Sony lacks wireless and needs a PC.  That is not a big deal for me.  But, I can definitely see where that is handy, especially for those who are not PC savvy or that have Macs (since the Sony eBook Store software works only with Windows). There are other upsides to the Kindle.  If you like newspapers and magazines, the Kindle store has them.  The Sony store does not.  Also, when looking at different titles on the Sony store compared to the Kindle store, I see that Amazon is subsidizing the price of the books.  Books are generally $3 less for the Kindle when compared to the Sony Reader.  Of course, you make up that difference by augmenting the Sony Reader with free checkouts from the library, which the Kindle cannot do.  Also, there seem to be more titles for the Kindle when compared directly to the Sony store.  Though, by opening up the Sony Reader to other bookstores, that negates that benefit -- for instance, I can read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for free from my library on my Sony Reader, it is not availble for the Kindle on Amazon.  Oh, the Kindle has a dictionary, Wikipedia access, web access, paid blog access and a keyboard.  None of them killer features for me. I did not ask Santa for the PRS-700 because the touchscreen overlay really made a mess of the readability on the device.  The contrast of the screen is lower and the overlay causes for terrible glare.  Thank goodness Sony had the right sense of mind to sell and support both the PRS-505 and PRS-700 side-by-side. Anyways, hope everyone had a great Holiday season!  What did ya'll get for Christmas?