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24 February 2009 @ 11:47 am
Introducing Nico!  
Not so long ago, we introduced Shannon as a new partner here, since genrereviews has expanded a lot recently. I'm delighted to let everyone know I've enlisted yet more help. Over the past week or so, Nico has proved himself an invaluable help to me, particularly when it comes to keeping up with my TBR list. Everyone, meet Nico:



Isn't he sexy?

I've mentioned in the past how I'm not generally fond of e-books, but keeping an online presence means I'm finding more and more of my books are showing up in e-book form rather than print. I can read them on the computer, but it doesn't take long before eye strain and headaches start kicking in, and I can't haul my desktop around with me to read wherever I want to go, so my reading time is limited to when I can devote myself to sitting and staring at the computer screen.

Enter Nico and his awesomeness. (Yes, I do name my electronics. My ipod's name is Steve. He says hi.) Nico works with Adobe PDFs, ePubs, TXTs, RTFs, Sony's BBeBs (LRFs), mp3s, and most types of images. If you have a program that will convert other types of files, you're laughing. Since 99.9% of the e-books I have are PDFs, I am also laughing. So how are Nico and I getting along? Allow me to tell you...

The Good:
-The cover. I've heard people mention they find it unwieldy, but I haven't had that issue. Actually, with the cover, I feel like I'm holding a normal book. And kudos to Sony for magnetizing the cover so it stays closed. (One nitpick, though: can't the cover be prettier?)
-The button placement. I love that there are buttons to turn the page in two different spots, so no matter how you're holding your reader, you can easily reach the turn page button. Navigation through the menus is very user-friendly, so even technologically-challenged saps like me can pick up the reader and use it straight away.
-The screen. Dude, the screeeeen. It's a nice size, as wide as my hand and almost as long, and the e-ink technology is beautiful. The words are crisp and clear no matter what size I choose for my text, and it's so easy on my eyes, I can read for hours without even noticing. The screen is not backlit, so it's a lot like reading from a printed page, except printed pages won't let me choose font size. Jerks.
-The size. Somewhere between the size of a mass market and a trade paperback, it's slim with a nice weight. It's not heavy, but it feels solid enough that it's not gonna break if I happen to sneeze. I can easily tuck the thing in my bag and keep it with me all the time, which let's face it, is exactly what I do.
-This thing can hold 160 books, and has two slots for memory cards, so you can put even more in there. 160 books in something that's as thin as my finger. Booya.
-It's pretty. It's soooo pretty. Just look at the picture! Look at it!
-The battery life. I have not yet run out of juice. In fact, so far I've only hooked up the reader in between reading books to update my e-library, charging the e-book only inadvertently. I read rather a lot, so this says lovely things about the battery life.

The Bad:
-This thing is 300 dollars. DUDE.
-Not particularly compatible with Mac computers. (Although Mac users can download the Calibre program, which somehow bridges the gap between the reader and the computer? I'm not a Mac user, so I'm not sure exactly how it works, but Mac users swear by it. As a side note, a lot of PC users like the Calibre program for organizing and occasionally format conversion, so being forced to use Calibre is actually not so bad. More about Mac users and the Sony reader over here.)

The Perplexing:
-Why can't I play with Nico while he's charging on the computer? Steve has not these issues!

I've heard people complain about the loading time between pages. It does take a second for the e-reader to flip the pages (and you can tell what generation we're in that people are complaining about what's literally a one second delay), but I haven't found it an issue. I didn't mention it above as good, bad, or perplexing because I'm not sure it's something I'd even have thought to bring up if I hadn't heard other people talking about it. It's kind of a non-issue as far as my experience goes.

So overall, Nico and I are very happy together. He snuggles with me in bed, comes with me when I dare to tread outside, and he even bathes with me. (Wearing a protective ziploc bag. Hey, no glove, no love.)

And I haven't had a single headache since he arrived. Now that's sexy.
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talyssa on February 24th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
sweet, i love the red. I've seen people complain about the speed of page turns too but its never bothered me and frankly I kind of wonder if the people who complain about some of this stuff actually sat down and read a book on one for an hour. I do find that I'm happier if I keep the font small so that I don't HAVE to turn the page as much, but if you're reading a real book there IS a bit of lag between finishing a page and turning it to hte next one. I doubt its very different timewise than the pageturns on the ereaders. I haven't used a sony much but the e-ink technology is the same either way so I'm guessing the page turns are the same speed as the kindle.

How's the organization? Kindle owners number 1 complaint is that the organization for people with large numbers of books isn't very good (no folders/hierarchy). I'm guessing amazon assumes we are mostly storing our books on our accounts (with the kindle any book you buy from amazon is stored by them and you can redownload it at any time) and removing them from our kindles. Its not an issue I personally have because its very unusual for me to go back and reread books (except for a few years down the line) so they all just go to the back of my kindle (kindle books show in order of last downloaded/accessed, or you can tell it to sort by author etc). So yeah, doesn't bother me much but I do hear people complain.

I've also heard a LOT of people say the kindle/eink eased headache issues for them.
Anna_ocelott_ on February 25th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
I'm fond of the red myself. It also comes in silver, but the red makes me think "oooooooh!" whereas the silver just kind of looks like every other electronic device I've ever seen (to me), so since I'll be spending a lot of time staring at the thing... red it is!

I think a lot of the complaint is just that as a people, we've become very immediate gratification, especially when it comes to technology. I'm guilty of having three or more windows open when I'm cruising around the internet so I don't have to wait for pages to load. To me, though, reading is such a leisurely thing I wouldn't expect the page turn to be faster than I can blink, and the speed of the e-ink page turns are no slower than the pages of a real book, as you say.

I have the Sony 505, which I guess is their 2.0 version, and I like the organization. I can browse books by title, author, or date. Granted, I don't keep large numbers of books on the device itself; I kind of figure since I have everything backed up on my computer, I'll keep myself semi-organized and remove books when I finish reading them. If I want to re-read, I can always re-upload.

The beauty of e-ink is that I get the sharp images and letters without having to deal with backlighting. Since having kids I've been more prone to light sensitivity and headaches, so if I spend more than three or four hours at a time in front of the computer, I need to go rummaging for aspirin. I'm sure it's the same for most others (perhaps minus the kids part).
talyssa on February 26th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
epaper is also deliberately slightly grey which is supposed to help the eye strain as well.
janicujanicu on February 24th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
Oh it's so pretty. The 300 dollar thing though - ug, I'm too cheap. I just bought a little computer that was $400. So. Have I ranted that I know someone who got a new sony ereader for like $50 through some work connections and discounts? And she didn't use it. So she returned it!!!! AHHHHHHHH! Kills me.
Anna_ocelott_ on February 25th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
I know, if I wasn't spending so much time nursing headaches from the e-books I would never have put down so much money. More and more of the ARCs and review copies I'm getting are sent in e-book form, though, so eventually I buckled down and considered it an investment in my health.

So... did you kill this friend of yours? I mean, I wouldn't blame you if you did, but it would perhaps have been more prudent on your part to kill her before she sent the thing back. At least then you could steal the shiny for your own nefarious purposes.
Gategrrl: Akeela and the Beegategrrl on February 24th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
Did I mention I download eBooks on my iPaq PDA? The screen size is small, and it's backlit, BUT I use Mobipocket, so I can change the background color so it's easier on my eyes. And I've spent a couple of hours reading on it.

What I wish publishers would do is lower the prices on eBooks OR give an eBook reader a discount on the hardcopy. Right now, I can get a used paperback for cheaper than the electronic version (but I think I've already mentioned that? I have a hard time remembering!)

That is a nice little machine, though. I wonder which will win out: Kindle, or Sony.
Anna_ocelott_ on February 25th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
Yes, the e-book prices are often outrageous. Sometimes the e-book is the same price as the hardcover! In my never humble opinion, they should be releasing the e-book the same time as the print copy, and the price should depend on the type of release. If it's a hardcover, I can get on board with the e-book being the same price as a typical mass market. I mean, what you're paying for there is being able to read it immediately. In the case of a mass market release, the e-book should never be more than 5$. If I see a price tag under 5$, I am so much more likely to make an impulse buy, even more so with something like an e-book that I can download and enjoy immediately (as opposed to ordering a print book, which takes days or sometimes weeks to arrive).

Right now, neither Kindle or Sony have a distinct edge over the other. They both have their pros and cons, so deciding on which device you want is more like deciding which set of restrictions you are better equipped to live with. The Sony does have a major advantage over the Kindle in one way: it's available to people outside the US. Amazon isn't selling their baby to anyone outside the border.
mecoopermecooper on February 24th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
Welcome to my obsession. I got my e-reader a few months ago and it never leaves my side. It was fantastic when I went on a trip and I could pack 60 books without taking up any space in my luggage. :)

Tor has some free books that you can download off their site and Baen Books has some free books as well so you can sample some authors.
talyssa on February 24th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
I think the tor free books are no longer available? Or if they have new ones linky linky please!

mecoopermecooper on February 25th, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)
talyssa on February 26th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
thank you!
exquisitedeath: Caffeineexquisitedeath on February 25th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
We wants it. We neeeeds it... and the Calibre thingy since my new pretty compy, Lord Cypher, is a Mac. Yes.
Anna_ocelott_ on February 25th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
If you can afford the critter, he's a handy little device.
Shannonaurillia on February 25th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
Is this the same as the Kindle? I really don't keep up to date on these things! Just saw it for sale on the US Amazon site - $359 or something! And so skinny; I like to hold a chunky, solid book in my hands!

I can't see myself ever getting one of these. I don't just like reading - I'm addicted to the actual books themselves!

Oh, meant to say: Nico is very hot! Rarrrrrr!! ;)

Edited at 2009-02-25 10:54 pm (UTC)
Anna_ocelott_ on February 26th, 2009 05:34 am (UTC)
Yes, the Sony reader is in direct competition with the Kindle. Well, in the US; Kindles aren't available beyond the border, so out here the Sony is our only real option. Which is fine, because I had kind of been leaning in that direction before I found out Kindles aren't available in Canada.

Initially, I had no more interest in picking up one of these devices than you do, but e-books kept piling up on me (I guess they're cheaper to send than hard copies, so it makes sense), and I was getting headaches almost every day from all that time reading at the computer. I consider Nico an investment in my health.

I love my Nico, he's a nifty toy and is doing an excellent job in keeping me from eye strain and headaches, but I don't think e-books will, for me, ever really replace the physical ones. I can't chase down authors to get them to sign e-books, I can't stack e-books on my bookshelves and admire them, and e-books in general have a more... temporary feel to them than a physical book. Also, Nico does not smell like a book.

For what he is, though, I'm very happy with Nico.