Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Sony eReader

I've been reading with interest all the recent articles about eBooks and eReaders. It's a lot to keep up with, and a lot of subtle differences to remember between brands and models. I have the opportunity to put my hands on five different eBook readers, so I will review them one by one as I experience them.

The first one is the Sony eReader. I took it out of the box, and followed the directions to plug it in to the computer for five minutes until the USB icon showed up on the eReader screen. Simple. Plug in and wait. In roughly five minutes, the icon appeared.

It went on its merry way with the "installing new hardware" pop-up in the system tray. Oops! I was not logged in as administrator, so I got an installation error. I logged out, logged back in as admin, and started over. Right away the "installing new hardware" pop-up appeared and it continued without a hitch.

The eReader software installation was extremely simple. Just follow the on-screen cues to "continue," read the user agreement, "next," etc. Within five minutes it was installed and ready to go with very little attention from me.

I went to my library's Overdrive collection and chose a few ePub format titles. I checked them out, and then clicked on the "download" button for the first one. I was prompted to "open" or "save" so I chose "open."

The eReader software opened and said it was not yet activated for DRM content. Would I like to initialize now? Yes, I would! I clicked on "yes" and it seemed to work for a few seconds. Nothing else happened. I went back to Overdrive and clicked on the download button again. It switched back to the eReader software automatically and the title appeared in the "Library" list. Cool! I repeated with the other titles I checked out from Overdrive.

Then I wanted to transfer the downloaded titles to the actual Sony device. The instruction manual shows you how to drag a title from the "Library" to the eReader icon. I dragged and dropped, and a pop-up informed me that my device was not activated to accept DRM titles. Would I like to initialize now? Yes, I would! I clicked on "yes" and let it do it's thing for a few seconds. I was prompted to either enter my Adobe ID or create a new one. I actually remembered my existing Adobe ID and password, so it let me right through.

One more time: drag and drop. The software chewed on it for maybe 3 seconds and stopped. Did it work? Was it finished? I clicked on the eReader icon and it showed the title I had just dragged. I guess it worked that fast! I repeated this drag-and-drop action for the other titles. They all went through in mere seconds with no more pop-ups or prompts.

Within about 30 minutes of taking the eReader out of its box I had the software installed and three ePub titles transferred to it! That's amazing. That includes the time it took me to browse the Overdrive catalog to choose three titles! I have never used an eReader before, but to be fair, I do have experience with downloading and transferring Overdrive audio books to my Creative Zen mp3 player, as well as my iPod Touch. That experience certainly played into the ease of this setup, as well as my familiarity with Adobe IDs. I am still impressed with how clearly worded the prompts were, though.

My only complaint on this process is really minor: I wasn't sure if the process was complete between actions. A "complete" or "done" pop-up might have been nice. I didn't know it worked until I double-checked. Otherwise, this was really, really simple and straightforward.

More on the actual reader itself will be posted next, after I have a few days to work with it.

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