Sony PRS-300 Pocket eReader Review

Sony Pocket Reader PRS-300You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. One of the reasons is because I have been immersed in the world of digital books. In my previous post I mentioned that I purchased myself a new toy, namely the Sony PRS-300 Pocket eReader. Now I’ve had it almost 3 weeks so I feel I’m in a position to write a fairly accurate review and not one based solely on first impressions.

I’ll start with all the fluff that don’t relate to actually reading a book, then I’ll move on to what it is actually like to read.

I bought my Pocket Reader online from WHSmiths for a very reasonable £159. I had weighed up getting the more expensive PRS-600, but decided against it as I don’t need my book to play me music, and whilst it can hold 8000 books compared to “only” 350 of the PRS-300 I’ll be impressed if I read 350 books a year!

Without actually ever seeing or using the larger PRS-600 I can still say that I made the right choice. The size is ideal, weight is about as much as a DVD in it’s case and it is comfortable to touch. I doesn’t have a touch screen, but this is not needed as the navigation system is very simple.

One other thing, the Sony PRS-300 is a beautifully designed bit of kit. I find it a joy to read because it is quite stunning to look at. They have clearly put a lot of time and effort into making a solid, attractive product.

When it first arrived I had to plug it in and charge it up for at least 40 minutes. It doesn’t come with a power cable (which is optional) but it uses the small USB socket similar to the HTC and Motorola mobile phones, so I simply used that charger. Once charged I connected it to my laptop running Vista (boo hiss) as it is not compatible with Linux. It didn’t come with any CDs, instead the software is on the Reader itself. Once I connected it asked me if I wanted to install it, which naturally I did, and it proceeded to download the installation files to my computer. This took a surprisingly long amount of time, probably 15-20 minutes.

First fail, the installation process crashed in Vista. After much searching around on the internet using the error code I managed to sort it out, but I had to re-download the installation files two or three times more. Overall it took me about an hour to get Sony’s software on to Vista.

At this point I was starting to think “Oh dear”!

It turns out that this software is actually only needed to really connect to Sony’s store. When I connected the eReader to my Ubuntu laptop it came up as an external hard drive (two external hard drives actually: Launcher and Reader). After some digging around I located where it stores it books and could copy them over no problem at all.

So as far as Linux users go, all is not lost!

Battery life appears good. The Reader is almost 3 weeks old, but it is still on 3 out of 4 bars since my first full charge the night it arrived. I have obviously had it connected to my laptop a few times to transfer books, but I am impressed with it’s endurance.

The navigation around your books is simple, and it has a couple of neat tricks. Firstly it remembers where you were up to for every book you are currently reading, so you can jump straight to it. Secondly you can “bookmark” pages – it quite literally “folds” the corner of the page over so you know you’ve book marked it.

Now, onto the meat – reading.

The size of the screen is good – not huge, but it is a good compromise between size of screen and size of the actual unit. The screen itself is crystal clear. There is a tiny issue that text on the far right hand side fads out slightly, but I don’t know if this is for all Sony Pocket eReaders or if it is just this one. However, it isn’t an issue I just thought I’d mention it in case anyone else has experienced this.

A lot of people have mentioned about the speed of changing the page. On most pages, especially plain text and ePub files, this is not normally a problem. You have to press the “turn page” button when you are on the penultimate line of the screen, but this is much the same as getting read to turn the page with a normal book.

However, some pages take ages to turn. I don’t know why this is. It mostly happens with PDFs, and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the amount of text or images on the page. I think it is something to do with the layout, being restructured. One of the worst examples I’ve seen is in the PDF of  The Art of Unix Programming. The normal content pages are fine, it is the content pages that take ages, sometimes up to about 30 seconds to “turn”. There is a good trick I found out about after I managed to plough my way through every contents page of the book, and that is if you press the numbers down the right hand side, you can enter a page number to jump to.

That is handy!

Another slight irritation is that it doesn’t handle PDFs too well. I can understand why it does this, but more often than not it doesn’t format the carriage returns well enough so you could be halfway though a line and then it jumps to the next one. Also, there are quite a few times it has only one or two lines on a page.

Apart from the minor irritants the reading itself is fabulous! I love it. It is clear, crisp, and easy to read. The lighter your environment, the easier it is to read. It is just like a book. And the best thing of all is that it doesn’t hurt your eyes.

There are 3 levels of zoom, and so far I have never not been able to read anything as long as I have selected the correct zoom level for the size of the text.

I am so pleased I purchased the Sony PRS-300 Pocket eReader, it has revolutionised the way I am reading. It has saved my eyes from squinting at PDF on my laptop. It is very attractive, a good size and has it’s now little protective case. And possibly the single best thing with the Sony is that I finally feel that I am in the 21st Century, (and apparently I am being very smug about it!)

If you like reading, get this eReader.

Here are some other reviews:

  • doreensmith

    I’ve got one of these for Xmas. Could you please tell me how you transfer the library of books off your laptop into the ereader? I have Vista also. I just find the whole thing very complicated. I had to take it back to the Sony centre as it was stuck in German and had to get the sales man to show me how to get it back to English.

    I would be grateful to receive any help asap. Thanks a lot!

    • Themishmosh

      http://calibre-ebook.com/

      easiest and most intuitive way to load any and every book on to you e-reader. it can even convert formats so that your reader can recognize many many files.

  • doreensmith

    I've got one of these for Xmas. Could you please tell me how you transfer the library of books off your laptop into the ereader? I have Vista also. I just find the whole thing very complicated. I had to take it back to the Sony centre as it was stuck in German and had to get the sales man to show me how to get it back to English.

    I would be grateful to receive any help asap. Thanks a lot!

  • http://www.biz-development.com/ biz

    PRS-300 looks as a good choice, comparing the price of competition. Pity it does not have support for expansion and dictionary. Still, market of e-readers is far from maturity.

    • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

      I guess it depends what you’re looking for. All I wanted my reader for was to read books. I doubt very much if I’m ever going to read more that 300 books at once, so I have no need for an SD expansion slot – instead I keep all my books on my backup drive at home. Also I don’t really feel the need to pay for an MP3 players (i.e. the 505). For me the 300 was the right balance between price and functionality.

      Thanks for your comment Biz, I hope you make the right choice for you, as for me the 300 is perfect.

  • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

    Hi Doreen,

    When you connect the Reader to your laptop via the USB cable can you see two new harddrives “Reader” and “Launcher” under “My Computer” within Vista? If you can see this then if you double click on Launcher, you should see a couple of files (I don’t have the reader here at the moment) but one of them should be a setup file. If you double click on this then it should start to download and install the Sony software. You might have the same problem that I had (as described above). If you do, please can you reply with the error message that is displayed. This will help jog my memory as to what the fix was.

    Many thanks
    Rob

  • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

    Hi Doreen,

    When you connect the Reader to your laptop via the USB cable can you see two new harddrives “Reader” and “Launcher” under “My Computer” within Vista? If you can see this then if you double click on Launcher, you should see a couple of files (I don't have the reader here at the moment) but one of them should be a setup file. If you double click on this then it should start to download and install the Sony software. You might have the same problem that I had (as described above). If you do, please can you reply with the error message that is displayed. This will help jog my memory as to what the fix was.

    Many thanks
    Rob

  • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

    I guess it depends what you're looking for. All I wanted my reader for was to read books. I doubt very much if I'm ever going to read more that 300 books at once, so I have no need for an SD expansion slot – instead I keep all my books on my backup drive at home. Also I don't really feel the need to pay for an MP3 players (i.e. the 505). For me the 300 was the right balance between price and functionality.

    Thanks for your comment Biz, I hope you make the right choice for you, as for me the 300 is perfect.

  • Doreen

    Thanks Rob. I’ve only just noticed your reply after 4 months. However, on trying yet again to download Reader Library it tells me it isn’t compatible with my computer. At first I had Vista but now I’ve upgraded to Windows 7. But it don’t make any difference. When I was dealing with it this afternoon, it seemed it was thinking I was using XP. I was wondering whether it was compatible with that. But my partner’s pc has XP and the software was no good on that either. Most of the time it says Library is not responding, but when I was looking at the trouble shooter it told me it was incompatible. What do I do please? Thanks so much for your previous reply.

    • Pressroommark

      I have to started to use free software called “Calibre”. It works fine with my linux machine but they have a version for windows and mac also. This software is much easier to use than the sony software imo.

      • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

        Hi Pressroommark

        I’ve been using calire pretty mich since I bought my Sony – it does exactly what I need it todo, a great piece of open source software. I’ve been meaning to do a writeup on it one of these days.

        Thanks for the message
        Rob

  • Doreen

    Thanks Rob. I've only just noticed your reply after 4 months. However, on trying yet again to download Reader Library it tells me it isn't compatible with my computer. At first I had Vista but now I've upgraded to Windows 7. But it don't make any difference. When I was dealing with it this afternoon, it seemed it was thinking I was using XP. I was wondering whether it was compatible with that. But my partner's pc has XP and the software was no good on that either. Most of the time it says Library is not responding, but when I was looking at the trouble shooter it told me it was incompatible. What do I do please? Thanks so much for your previous reply.

  • Pressroommark

    I have to started to use free software called “Calibre”. It works fine with my linux machine but they have a version for windows and mac also. This software is much easier to use than the sony software imo.

  • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

    Hi Pressroommark

    I've been using calire pretty mich since I bought my Sony – it does exactly what I need it todo, a great piece of open source software. I've been meaning to do a writeup on it one of these days.

    Thanks for the message
    Rob

  • Themishmosh

    http://calibre-ebook.com/

    easiest and most intuitive way to load any and every book on to you e-reader. it can even convert formats so that your reader can recognize many many files.