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.
- 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. 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).