Kindle and Sony comparison

I’ve had a Sony PRS-505 book reader for three years. The battery on is dying (it will hold a charge for maybe 300 page turns now) and it is developing bad pixels, but on the whole it was a champ, and I carried it everywhere.

Yesterday I bought a Kindle 3G, and the difference is like night and day.

In comparison:

  • The Kindle is tons faster. Simple page turns are fast, and every operation that “went to data” on the Sony and took ages (opening a book, going to a bookmark, etc.) is virtually instantaneous on the Kindle. The Sony would also spend five or ten minutes re-indexing stuff. No more of that nonsense; the people who wrote the Kindle firmware appear to understand how important it is for a UI to be responsive (I’m guessing the Sony stuff is perl scripts or something equally awful).
  • The Kindle is seriously connected. I was reading a “free” book on my phone in the Kindle app, and when I brought it up on the Kindle it went to where I left off on the phone. I’d heard about this syncing, but not experienced it.Β The ability to download books away from a computer is fantastic. (I have to say that I don’t trust Sony with my credit card info now, while Amazon’s track record here is very good. Later versions of the Sony came with some kind of wireless, but I never tried it).
  • The Kindle’s screen looks better. I’m guessing that the 505 has a first generation screen, and that the technology has improved in the past couple of years. Sony went down the path of making their devices touch sensitive, which made their screens look even worse. I don’t know what they were thinking.

I still don’t like the idea of “renting a battery” for another three years; the batteries on these sealed devices ultimately degrade to the point of uselessness and require expensive replacement, but I’m guessing the bet is that people will buy new models at that point (this seems to work for Apple).

I am also not sanguine about the Kindle DRM. I like owning books. On the other hand, many books I have I do not read more than once, so this will probably be unimportant unless I need to lend a book to someone, or re-read one 20 years from now when the DRM landscape has changed (as it always seems to).

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8 Responses to Kindle and Sony comparison

  1. Mark Dennehy says:

    Did you take a peek at the Sony 905? Having looked at both the Kindle 3 and the Sony, the Sony seems like the better option.

  2. Rob Weir says:

    If it helps, the Kindle DRM has been broken, so you at least can guarantee your own access to your purchased books in to the future.

  3. landon says:

    @Mark: I won’t give Sony a credit card number, even if their hardware keeps teeth whiter and causes TSA goons to spontaneously remember the 4th amendment to the constitution.

  4. The syncing is fantastic. When I unexpectedly get stuck somewhere and can just spontaneously continue reading my latest book on my phone its a great virtue.

    Amazon does give publishers the ability to publish without DRM (and this is listed in the product descriptions on Amazon). For example I’ve been converting books for my mother, Edgar-nominee Margaret Frazer, and we’vee been releasing all her books without DRM.

  5. Aris says:

    The kindle can read DRM free .mobi files – and pdf’s. There is also a great free App called Calibre – – will help you manage all the books on your kindle, and convert from just about any format to any format. My wife loves her Kindle – and she’s not a gadgety type of person. She charges it every 2 weeks or so.

  6. frymaster says:

    i was about to mention Calibre, but someone beat me to it πŸ˜‰

    I believe there’s a plugin to let you convert Kindle’s DRM’d books to something else, but if not… just avoid the Kindle store. Many other places let you download DRM-free, and you can then use Calibre to convert. It would be nice if it supported .epub… but as long as you can convert, it’s not necessary.

    However, I did leave mine on the bed, piled some stuff on it without thinking, and later on I found the screen broken, along with the 2 halves of the case slightly out of alignment. Because of the physical damage, I bought another one… but half-way through my holiday, the screen broke on that, without mechanical persuasion from me of any kind… so be warned πŸ™

  7. Aris says:

    Buy the Amazon branded leather cover. It is expensive, but a good quality product. There is a lighted version and one without a light. The one without the light is fine – and a bit thinner too – but they are both very expensive for what they are (still worth it though). The main difference between the Amazon cover and the 3rd party one is the use of the connecting hooks on the side of the Kindle which hold the cover to the Kindle. These hooks also provide power for the lighted cover – and they both protect your kindle screen of course!

  8. Kevin says:

    No need to worry about the battery scenario – You can already buy replacements and you should already have 10 copies of the case opening tool handy in various sizes and digital format. πŸ˜‰

    Hopefully the new e-ink Nook with the flash-free page turning will push Amazon to update their firmware to do page updating the way it should have from the start (although it would be sweet irony if B&N have patented that.)

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