Why the Sony PRS-505/PRS-700 is a better choice than the Kindle

Amazon can reach in and randomly destroy the books on your Kindle remotely over Whispernet, without asking your permission first.  Well, technically, thanks to the terms and conditions that you have to agree to before you buy the Kindle, you gave them permission in advance.   Well, no thanks.    I think the Sony e-Reader is a much better choice as a result.

Yet another reason why people should Just Say No to DRM.

22 thoughts on “Why the Sony PRS-505/PRS-700 is a better choice than the Kindle

  1. Hello Ted,

    yeah Amazon has a PR disaster now. Deleting 1984 and Animal Farm without letting people know sucked the irony out of this world.

    How is the PDF experience on the Sony? Can you through a random big PDF with lots of graphics at it and still have decent fast usage? That is what _I_ want/need.


  2. I have been looking at e-Books/e-Readers for a while now, and this is one of the major reasons I have held back. Amazon demands it retain too much power over the kindle. The Sony devices look tempting, but I perceived a lack of available books to make the purchase worthwhile.

    It seems pretty clear DRM on books is not going to work, it is just a matter of how much time the industry will take to realize that is what is slowing adoption of e-Books. I hope not too long, and at present I would rather buy a physical book and retain all the rights I have to use said book in whatever way I please.

  3. @1: How is the PDF experience on the Sony? Can you through a random big PDF with lots of graphics at it and still have decent fast usage?

    With the PRS-700, PDF’s work pretty well. The you can view things either reduced to fit on the half-sized screen, or you can see them half a page a time at 100% magnification.

  4. @2: The Sony devices look tempting, but I perceived a lack of available books to make the purchase worthwhile.


    If you don’t mind using programs like Convert Lit to convert Microsoft Reader files (which also strips off DRM, which many consider a major feature), there’s actually a pretty good selection of books available for the Sony eReader.

  5. Thanks Ted,

    I heard that PDFs take seconds to turn a page and format support wasn’t stellar. I guess that is fixed now.

  6. Intriguing – this has to be the first time I’ve ever seen Sony referred to favourably in connection with DRM…

  7. Hi Ted, I am about to buy the prs-505, but I am not sure if it works fine with pdf files. I know you’ve already answered this question for the prs-700, but I was wondering if you can give me any feedback regarding the prs-505.

    I still don’t feel like spending almost usd 500 in something that I am not sure how is going to work (most of the books I read are programming books), and it’s more than what I want to spend, so I rather check the prs-505 first.


  8. The Sony PRS-505 works OK with PDF’s, but with its slower CPU, you may not find it very satisfying — epsecially for PDF’s that were formatted for 8.5″ by 11″ US Letter paper, as opposed to the smaller screen size of the PRS-505/PRS-700.

    If you plan to be reading a lot of PDF’s, I’d strongly suggest you find a friend with one a try it out and decide for yourself if the 505 is good enough for your needs.

  9. You have it backward, Ted.

    It is not because Sony Ereader is better than Kindle, so there is Yet Another Reason to Say No to DRM.

    It is because you are against DRM, so you think Sony Ereader is better than Kindle.

    Seriously, I doubt 99.99% of the people/kindle customers care much about DRM. What is the big deal that Amazon “has too much control” over your reading material? They are as harmful to you as your credit card company.

  10. Wei,

    Yes, it’s because I’m not in favor of letting a company having the power to randomly make books that I paid for disappear down a “memory hole” without asking my permission first that I believe the Sony eReader is a better choice than the Kindle.

    You’re probably right that many of people who paid for a Kindle were not aware of the power Amazon has over their reading library; hopefully a few people will read this blog, as well as others who have commented on how Amazon has the power to randomly deny them access to their purchased ebooks if a Amazon customer service representive thinks that they have returned too many (non-book) purchases, even if it was another Amazon customer service representative which suggested that the hapless Kindle user return a broken television they purchased from Amazon. But if you annoy Amazon, they can cut off your Amazon account, at which point you lose access to all of your purchased e-books.

    Maybe most people don’t know how vulnerable their digital libraries are to the actions of Amazon employees; maybe they should become aware.

  11. I have the Sony PRS-505. At first it seems like there are many more books on the Kindle… and technically there are, but between Sony’s eBook store and the plethora of ebooks you can download from the hundreds/thousands of bittorrent sites out there (and they’re tiny downloads), I have literally hundreds of ebooks and have never wanted something that I could not find.

    About a year ago, Sony issued a firmware update that allows the PRS-505 (and the newer 700 model which is way too expensive for having the same size screen and worthless features… go with the 505 if you’re gonna get one, the 700 is not worth it) to display PDF files much better. I don’t remember the technical issues involved, but since that firmware update I’ve had no problem reading PDF files on the Sony reader.

    Keep in mind these eInk eBook readers are meant for text, not graphics. Pictures, if they can be displayed at all, will look like crap. Use a notebook with adobe acrobat if you want to read stuff with lots of big color pictures.

    I’m shocked to learn about the DRM issues w/ the Kindle. I had not heard about them taking away books from people’s Kindles, or that you’d even have to consent to allow them to do that. That is bullshit.

    There is one problem I’ve been having with my Sony PRS-505 – the battery. The battery is internal, so you can’t change it out, and unfortunately my battery is not holding its charge. It gets used up very quickly, and if I leave it sitting (turned off of course) for even a week, the battery is completely drained and the device won’t turn on. Have to recharge it (which is done by plugging it into a USB port or using an AC adapter that doesn’t come with the device). I’m going to have to send my unit back… it’s gotten to the point where the battery problem is too much to bear.

    But other than that… I love the Sony. If Amazon didn’t have the draconian DRM issues, and if the price were a little more reasonable, I’d get the new Kindle with the large 10″ screen. My little brother has it and it’s quite nice looking.

    As for the notion that the DRM issues won’t affect 99% of people… that’s beside the point. You never know how it may screw with you, and more than that, it’s the principle. Businesses need to know that there will be lost sales and lost profits when they abuse customers by selling DRM-crippled products. I will not pay (let alone pay extra – the cost of the DRM is absorbed into the cost of the product) for something that’s intentionally defective. They can screw themselves.

  12. I realize this is beating the dead horse, but, heh, someone’s gonna do it. 🙂

    If you are paranoid about amazon remotely removing your kindle books, I forgot to mention that you can as well email the purchased books to an email account. (amazonkindlecollection@gmail.com anyone?)

  13. FYI – The biggest deciding factor for me was Calibre (http://calibre.kovidgoyal.net). I bought the Sony PRS-505 a year ago and have had no regrets.

    Calibre handles converting ebooks from/to multiple formats. It can automatically ‘slurp’ a website, RSS news feed, or other web content and convert it into an eBook for you. It also allows you to maintain your eBook library with ratings, comments, and custom art.

    Since Google and Sony announced the partnership and I discovered Feedbooks (http://www.feedbooks.com/), my decision to go with the PRS-505 seems like an even better choice.

    BTW, I’m not opposed to the Kindle – I bought one for my mom – but I knew my mom wouldn’t understand the DRM and compatibility/flexibility issues that would totally piss me off. So, the Kindle is the best thing for her, but the PRS-505 is still the best thing for me.

  14. Of all the currently available e-readers
    I would choose one of the Irex’s products,
    if they were just a little cheaper!

    Irex Iliad runs on Linux, and you can get shell access, at least in the older models.
    (I don’t know about the upcoming DR800 reader, which is clearly marketed as a competitor of Kindle: http://www.irexreader.com/ )

    However, what’s alarming is that on their home site:
    they don’t anymore have the link to
    the Community and Developer sections

    But, well, I found this:

  15. while I agree with your conclusion, Sony also uses DRM,
    What’s more Sony can also delete files from your device, if they wanted to, but not without an update of the library software.

    In fact, if you register a device to a new name, all the books purchased by the previous owner will be erased from the device!

    I hope the original poster of this article reads this!

  16. ProDigit, while you are correct that Sony (the company) uses DRM. That does not necessarily mean that the PRS505/700 devices are *required* to use the same DRM.

    Yes, the Sony library software uses DRM to manage the books it downloads and if the software were to be updated, it would be possible for Sony to do “bad things” to your content…

    My PRS-505 has never felt the leathery touch of Sony’s “free” library manager software and it never will. I have over 900 books on my reader and they are at no risk, because Sony will never have any way of reaching out (like the Kindle) and deleting my books.

    At least with the Sony I have that choice. Not so much with the Kindle…

  17. I never understood the paranoia of the big brother or big corporations from some highly intelligent people. They have gotta have some pretty big incentives to be f*cking with your private book collection.

  18. I am considering my first digital reader purchase. My main interests, in order are:
    1. PDF files– a lot of reading for work
    2. Newspapers> WSJ, Local daily current edition
    3. Word documents
    4. Occasional books
    5. email

    Since it is now November 2009, have their been enough fixes and corrections make the Prs-700 the best choice, or is the 505 still the way to go.
    Thanks for comments and opinions

  19. I would get PRS-600 (aka the Sony eReader Touch Edition). It supercedes the PRS-700; is $100 cheaper, and has a better (lower glare) screen. If you really care about the screen glare, the PRS-505 is still better, but I consider the PRS-600’s screen acceptable, and the faster CPU, better PDF rendering, and touch screen to be key advantages over the PRS-505.

  20. George,

    please check this forum:

    For what I have read, it seems that currently only Irex DR1000
    has a large enough screen for really nice reading (that is, without
    requiring panning) of double-column PDF’s:


    However, the current quality of the device is somewhat crappy,
    according to some ex-owners:

    Have to wait the forecoming announcement of Plastic Logic’s reader,
    it might also have a largish screen. (Unfortunately with Windows CE
    instead of Linux.)

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