Look, the new Sony Reader PRS-505 isn't perfect -- it's only the first device among the second generation (ok, technically third generation) of e-ink based eBook readers. But it really does remind us of the early MP3 players back in the late 90s: maybe the content isn't as readily accessible as we might like, but the hardware is starting to come into its own (we have a feeling 3rd generation will be prime time), and damned if we don't want to start using this thing for all our bookwormish purposes post-haste. Improvements and niceties in the PRS-505 over the last-gen Reader PRS-500 include:
- Numerous display improvements, including:
- Significantly faster refresh rate. It's still not instant, but it's definitely at or near the short threshold of a real paper page turn, which is a VAST improvement from the ~1 second refresh of the PRS-500.
- The ghosting is largely (but not entirely) gone.
- Contrast also seems improved (but could definitely use a lot more work).
- Grayscale has gone from 4 shades to 8.
- Did we mention how much the un-Sony-like mass-storage mode warmed our jaded (and occasionally Mac-using) hearts? Just place your (compatible) files anywhere on the MSC drive, the reader will find and index them.
- Internal memory has increased from 64MB to 192MB. (The SD slot isn't SDHC, though.)
- It's far thinner and flatter -- now 0.3-inches at its thinnest, compared to the 0.5-inch thick 500.
- The physical design seems far simpler and consolidated, with a lot fewer buttons / slots etc. on the edges (actually, none), with everything important on the top and bottom of the unit.
- Moving the page forward / back buttons to the right side, away from the spine of the cover. (Those buttons are also a little better laid out, and more clearly identified.)
- The 1-10 buttons have been moved from the bottom up to the side, next to their corresponding numbered menu options. (Essentially, where these buttons belong.)
- Startup is near instantaneous from "off" (standby); you can also easily skip pages with the 1-10 buttons.
- Leather binding has subtle magnetic clasps that provide a little stickiness when closed.
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Sony Reader PRS-505 (second gen) hands-on: we're in love