Friday, December 11, 2009

My Tax Writeoff--ie, my christmas present to myself

I bought myself a Sony Reader Touch this week. At $293 and change, it was a bit pricey, but it's 100% deductible and what the hell. It makes me more effective at my job and I will actually use it. And I like it way better than the Kindle.

My options:
The Kindle DX -- which I was beta testing for school and did not like. Which is to say, I liked some things about it (screen size) and hated pretty much everything else (feels flimsy, navigation sucks, web browser's a joke, case is heavy, and on and on). Not to mention the issues I have with a closed system and Amazon attempting to lower the perceived value of a book, ultimately threatening my livelihood. They ended up making the discount on this more than I expected, so much so that the Reader Touch ended up costing me more than keeping the Kindle would have. But with all those things wrong with it, I'd already decided against it.

Regular Kindle -- absolutely no interest. I wasn't impressed with their "impressive" version, so I didn't even consider the regular one.

The Nook (or nook, as it's officially written) -- early reviews of this are bad. Like, really bad. Not to mention that it's not shipping until January and in-store placement was delayed by a week, AND it's another proprietary system. I just don't think it's ready for prime time.

Sony Reader Pocket -- about $100 cheaper than the Touch but soooo tiny. The screen size was about the size of a credit card, and the case seemed huge around it. I tried to like it; I went to Best Buy twice just to make sure I really wouldn't be able to stand it.

Cool/Er and other models -- I couldn't find anything to love about them, and I couldn't find any to look at in person.

Old versions of the Sony, like the PRS-500 -- I was hoping to find one from a reputable retailer, but I couldn't, and I wasn't willing to go with an ebay find for this.

The rumors about an Apple reader are killing me, but I decided not to wait for one to come out. My experience this semester was that I read almost 50% more content with an ereader than without, and it was amazingly helpful as I started my new job. Technically, I'm supposed to receive one from my company, but I was approved in July and am still on the waiting list for a device, so I decided to just go ahead and purchase.

The Sony Reader Touch is a good size (slightly wider than a mass market paperback) with a good screen size (about the same as a mass market paperback). It feels sturdier than the Kindle, so I went without a case for now (it came with a neoprene sleeve for some safekeeping--cases cost $30!). I'm familiar with processing documents to load to it and if I have problems I can use my company's support staff to trouble shoot since they're familiar with it. I don't plan to use this for anything but work reading, so I don't care about having a content delivery system a la Kindle or Nook, but anyway, Sony's e-store has many, many options and they're using the industry standard .epub format rather than a proprietary one. And I believe I can use Adobe Digital Editions to access some library books, which is awesome and totally unavailable on other devices. Also, it came in black.

Drawbacks: the screen is a bit more reflective than the Kindle due to the touch screen, which is a little distracting, but I think I'll get used to it. Cases and accessories are ridiculously overpriced. The screen size is about three inches smaller than the Kindle--but again, I think I'll get used to it, especially once I'm no longer referencing a Kindle for class.

How I did it
I got a pretty good deal, all things considered. I discovered a semi-secret corporate discount that gave me $30 off the $299 price tag plus free shipping.

Overall, I'm pleased. I'll turn in my Kindle DX next week. The response from university students has universally been bad, and my professor declined to use the Kindle for her class next semester. Out of 27 students, only 3 were considering purchasing the device at a hugely discounted price, and I bet none of them do it.

I realize that this may seem like a weird purchase to a lot of people, but the value of it for my job is unbelievable. I can literally blow through three or four manuscripts per week with an ereader, which I can't do when I have to carry around all that paper. Yes, that's a book every two days! And when you're trying to catch up with a list as big as I'm facing, that's very helpful.


  1. I have just read your latest post with interest as I have been contemplating buying a Kindle (Australian version which I think is only the basic model), but am now having second thoughts.

    The main reason I have been considering a Kindle is because of the text to speech and magnification functions. Do the other products you discussed have these functions?

    I will definitely be looking into other E reader options that are available here.

  2. All the devices have magnification functions. If you're using a PDF on any of the devices, the magnification doesn't work as well--PDFs are displayed as images on e-ink screens and the text doesn't reflow, so it's best to use the device's native format (.epub for everything but Kindle, .kzw for Kindle) in order for the magnification to reflow properly.

    The text to speech function on the Kindle is a joke. It's a robotic, computerized voice with no inflection that pronounces a lot of stuff wrong. I couldn't listen to it through an entire paragraph, but less as something to use frequently.

    All the devices I've played with do play mp3s, so you could play an audio book on any of them.

  3. Does it have a backlighting option? The thing that kills me about the regular Kindle is that yes, it's flimsy, but that you can only use it when you have adequate lighting! Otherwise, you're outta luck which seems completely nonsensical when you've got an E-reader in your hands.

  4. No true ereaders have a backlighting option.

    E-ink works with some magnetic principle, from my understanding, which is why the pages seem to "flash" when turning. But you can't have that AND a backlight.

    Honestly, I wouldn't want a backlight anyway. The backlight is what causes eye strain in monitors, televisions, and smart phones. Reading on an e-ink screen is just like reading words on a page, which is why it doesn't tire your eyes out. Print books require a light source, and ereader devices do, too, and that's actually a good thing.

  5. I know none of them have the backlighting option, I just wish that they'd allow for BOTH in the same device. [Yeah, castles in the sky!] For my part, I'm just getting used to the flash of the page turning.

  6. How cool that you can deduct the cost!

    I'm waiting on the ereaders. The tech geek in me wants one, but I always get my books for free (borrowed from my Mom, or from the library), the costs just don't add up the way I want.


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