Sony Reader

The Reader is Sony’s take on the LIBRIe for the Western market, with a few twists. I bought a PRS-505 on January 2008 for a number of reasons (not the least of which was my wanting to spend less time online), and plan to upgrade in 2010.


Good Points:

  • Build quality – Lightweight metal casing on most devices
  • 160dpi screen
  • Charges via USB
  • Takes RTF as an input format directly
  • Loads and loads of utilities for it
  • Good contrast (PRS-505)

Bad Points:

  • Original devices had an incredibly asinine DRM-laden format (now changed to EPUB)
  • No wireless connectivity on most devices
  • PDF crashiness on older devices

PRS-505 Notes:

  • Page size for PDF printing: 9 × 11,7 cm.
  • Max picture size is either 11 cm high or 8 wide, 8 bit gray, 166 dpi.


Date Link Notes
Jul 05 Sony cuts e-reader prices: Pocket Edition now $149 The heat is on.
Mar 03 Sony Reader Daily Edition reviewed: unworthy of cost premium or love Not that hot, then.
Dec 22 Sony Reader Daily Edition starts shipping, gets more newspapers All we need now is for Sony to remember Europe exists.
Dec 17 Sony e-readers get exclusive Dow Jones, New York Post content I really need to look into upgrading from the 505.
Dec 08 Sony Reader Store goes 100% EPUB on Friday Sensible. I wonder if there will be any firmware updates for the 505…
Nov 19 Sony’s 3G-enabled Reader Daily Edition up for pre-order, content deals coming next month Well, by the looks of it I’m not going to get one this Christmas for sure. Once Sony figures out Europe exists, though, I’ll get right on it.
Nov 17 Sony offering ePub upgrade / trade-in program for PRS-500 e-reader Nice of them. I’d swap my 505 for one of the newer ones if they had a trade-in program as well, but the likelihood of that happening and reaching Portugal is near zero…
Oct 30 Sony Reader Pocket Edition available now Only took them about a month. I wonder when the bigger model will be hitting Europe.
Aug 27 Sony eBook Library now available for Mac, Windows The desktop software is not nearly as impressive as Calibre, and buggy. Also, the new hardware display seems blurry, even though the annotation feature is neat.
Video: Sony Reader Touch Edition gets touched, desktop software upped to 3.0
Aug 25 Sony Launches Another e-Reader, with 3G! Seriously now, I keep wondering what’s the hangup with competing directly with the Kindle in the US when there are actually more people reading in Europe.
Sony Attacks Amazon’s Kindle with $399 3G Digital Library Book
Aug 24 Video: Sony PRS-600 Touch is fast but too dim to satisfy PRS-505 owner Figures. That’s one of the reasos I bought the 505 originally – readability when compared to the 700
Aug 17 PRSCustomizer A tool that generates a custom firmware image for the Reader, enabling some tweaks.
Aug 5 Sony counters Kindle with new models, better format support Nothing significantly improved over the 505 as far as I’m concerned.
Aug 4 Sony Reader Pocket and Touch editions lower cost of entry, online e-book store follows suit
Mar 5 chm2pdf Extract .chm files and convert to PDF (also available as an Ubuntu package). See also archmage and extract_chmLib for viewing and extracting raw HTML from .chm files.
Jan 26 PRS-505 information Detailed specs and links to additional resources
Calibre an e-book library management application
Sony Reader PRS-505 Disassembly A nice Flickr set.
Nov 18 PRS-700 internals and disassembly Some info and links on the newest model.
libprs500 Python-based library for content conversion
Quentin’s notes Might come in handy.
Older Shots of the production hardware
PCMag video review
Gizmodo Hands-On

Notes on Low-Level Conversion Tools:

For generating an optimized PDF out of a .chm file:

chm2pdf  --charset iso-8859-1 --webpage --no-title --no-toc \
--fontsize 8pt --headfootsize 7pt --size 9x11.7cm \
--top 0.2 --bottom 0.2 --left 0.2 --right 0.2 in.chm

For doing the same for EPUB (provided you have the Calibre tools installed):

extract_chmLib in.chm folder
html2epub folder/final/main.html