Lovely, but flawed
I saw one of these in Waterstones and was instantly charmed. What I don't think really comes over in the reviews above is just how thin it is. It's tiny! Much less thick than a normal book (but about the same screen size). The display was very crisp and clear and I found the controls intuitive and easy to use. The aluminium finish was reassuringly solid.
However, a bit more research showed it wasn't what I wanted. I wasn't keen on paying for any ebooks - I'd prefer to use it for work to prevent carting around masses of various papers. Could I view them as pdfs on an eBook viewer, I wondered... However, I've recently been told that under the Data Protection Act, I'll need to password protect them. And in answer to Paul's question a couple of days ago, NO, you can't view password-protected pdfs on this reader. See another review at: http://www.forwhatitworths.com/posts/2007/11/the-sony-prs505-love-at-first-sight/
How about the competition? This is what an evening's surfing revealed:
(Incidentally, when comparing weights, an average paperback is said to weigh about 320g)
The iLiad Reader is the fullest-spec'd with a tablet built in, handwriting software, WiFi etc. However, it's also the heaviest (389g - but still not at all bad) and the most expensive (£429). At that price you could buy a decent laptop instead. But if any eBook reader could open password-protected pdfs it would probably be this one - not that I've tried. Maybe someone could ask them.
The BeBook is actually lighter than the Sony (220g, vs 250g) and only a tiny bit more expensive (£229), although I'm a bit suspicious since this is apparently a dutch website. If anybody has got hold of one, please let me know.
I particularly admired the chutzpah of BeBook for mounting 20,000 free book pdfs directly on their website! - Although they say they will also have a wider choice in a DRM'd format called Mobipocket soon. They also promise offers similar to the iLiad including WiFi, stylus, etc at some point in the future. Until then, presumably you can't open password-protected PDFs... again, maybe somebody could ask them.
Bear in mind though that all these eBook readers are more expensive than the tiniest 7" laptops like the Asus EEE, which costs only £149 at PC World! This gives you a WiFi and a full software suite including email, web, OpenOffice and a PDF reader - so you could just as well read eBook PDFs on that. However, even the tiniest Asus is much heavier than any of the eBook readers at about 920g - so almost three iLiads or four Sonys or BeBooks! Suddenly my bag wouldn't be so light any more after all. And battery life is a relatively puny 3 hours.
So where to go next?? It seems clear that if you need to annotate and enter data in, on cost grounds you can barely justify the iLiad - an Asus or similar sub-notebook might be better. I wish the iLiad was much cheaper; then it would be a non-brainer.
All of the eBook readers seem to have that magic quality of lightness though which makes even the Asus look distinctly weighty.
I can't really stomach spending over £400 on an eBook reader so that leaves the Sony and the BeBook. The BeBook really charmed me with its website aggressively pushing so many free books at me! They'll even give you a free unit if you get ten friends to buy one themselves. But why buy one now when in their own blurb they say there is an enhanced version coming out imminently?
The Sony is the only eBook reader that you could walk in off the high street and buy in the U.K with a proper warranty, I would wager. But it will tie you up in DRM knots if you let it, it seems. I guess Sony/Waterstones wants to make their money on the ebooks you buy whereas the other two are trying to earn a crust on actual device sales.
Sheesh.... I just don't know. I really want to open password-protected PDFs, like Paul. And I want a light, light bag. I wish somebody would just give me an iLiad, or maybe if they cost only £200... and so the angst continues....!
And just to add to the mix... you do know you can buy pdf books on iTunes for the iPhone? ;)