Sony's PRS-505 remains a quality reader and good value choice though it has been available since October 2007.
This is Sony's successor to the PRS-500 introduced in 2006. Many readers actually prefer it to newer readers like the PRS-700
, because of that model's new touchscreen and the glare and lack of contrast that accompanied it. Despite its dedicated following, the venerable PRS-505 is being superceded by the no frills PRS-300 which debuted in August 2009, though it is still sold in Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland.
The Sony PRS-505 Reader's 6-inch diagonal screen uses the same cool e-ink technology and has the same 600x800 pixel display size as the Kindle 2. The unit certainly looks better than either Kindle though, in a stylish aluminum finish (though you can also get it in a distinctive red) with two rounded controls on the bottom.
The controls and menu systems are simple and intuitive (though the directional pad does require a bit too much pressure to click). Some have complained about the small, indented left and right turn page buttons, but this only seems to be a minor issue for people with large fingers. There are various functions, like making bookmarks, picking up where you left off, fast forwarding, searching collection by author, title, date, etc.
The battery lets you turn up to 7,500 continuous pages (or up to three weeks of active reading) on a single charge of internal rechargeable battery. However if you do not shut it completely down, the standby drain will empty it within a few weeks. Its operating temperature ranges from 41F to 95F.
The memory is only 256MB, but that is sufficient for about 160 books, still far below the 2GB of the Kindle 2. It is expandable, however. There is no speaker, so audio needs a set of earplugs.
Sony made a big push with the PRS-505 in North America and the UK in particular, and it remains very popular with its users, many of whom refuse to upgrade to the touchscreen-enabled PRS700.
Connecting: Unlike the Kindle, the only way to access content is through an internet hookup to a PC--there is no wireless capability. It is also not useful for Mac users--there is also a notable lack of eBook Library software for Mac users and there is no support for Audible.com audiobooks, which is disappointing (but not surprising as it is owned by rival Amazon). We're also disappointed there is no support for importing RSS feeds, as both the Kindle 2 and BeBook do.
We should note that the PRS-505 can be finicky about USB cables--the one provided will work, but others may or may not provide both power and data transfer.
However, as a plus over the Kindle 2, Sony does make it much easier to get access to many open source or free ebooks. You can even go to other sites that have DRM free eBooks. Sony also allied with content partners including Random House, Simon & Shuster, Harper Collins, Libri.de, Thalia.de, Online-Artikel.de, Thalia.ch, and stauffacher.ch to provide options at its own ebook store. That said, if you want a copyrighted book, Sony's eBook Library trails Amazon dramatically in terms of book titles available for download, with some 100,000 available when we checked. Sony has an incentive where you do get 100 free eBook Classics--older books which normally cost $1.99 each. Their bestsellers tend to run $9.99, just as on the Kindle 2.
At least bringing over personal files and ebooks is easy--a simple drag and drop maneuver.
Accessories: Amazingly, the PRS-505 does not ship with an AC or car power adapter--but you can get both for a cheap $30. With this third party charger, you can recharge in 2 hours, compared to 4 hours via the USB port. We understand the Sony PSP portable gaming player charger will work as well. Unlike the PRS-700, the 505 lacks a light , so if you'll be doing lots of reading at night, you'll want to purchase an attachable light (around $13). The unit may comes with a cover, but optional other ones may be purchased.
Price: The PRS-505 has a list price of $299.
In the UK, it was released in September 2008 and costs 199 GBP. Before the introduction of the international Kindle 2 in October 2009, the PRS-505 dominated the British eReader market. In Europe, the 505 retailed for €300 (this was before the dollar's considerable depreciation), and it is still sold in Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland.