Sony PRS-505 Ebook Reader Versus Amazon Kindle 2 Ebook Reader

UPDATE: April 27, 2010

The Sony PRS 505 is no longer being in production, having been replaced by the Sony Pocket Edition and the Sony Touch Edition. However, many customers have found that the Pocket Edition is too small, with too few features, and the Touch Edition has a glare that comes from the thick screen layer that makes the ebook reader touch sensitive.

The bottom line? You'll need to look on eBay for the Sony 505 now, though the fact that these readers are selling for a premium over the former Sony price is an indication of just how high quality these ebook readers are.

The Amazon Kindle 2 is still available for sale, and now international editions are available in many countries. The Amazon Kindle DX is an extra-large version aimed at textbook and newspaper readers.

Sony PRS-505
Sony PRS-505
Amazon Kindle 2
Amazon Kindle 2

Sony 505 Versus the Amazon Kindle

I have spent the past month researching the pros and cons of Sony's PRS-505 ebook reader and the significantly more famous Amazon Kindle 2, as I decided it was time to make the leap into the world of ebooks and digital information. Both are high-quality devices, and as such, they come with a high price tag, when you think about the fact that they are usually used for only one purpose: reading books.

Ebook readers are definitely not for everyone, especially this year, when they are still so expensive. They are best for voracious readers and/or those who need to be able to read while packing light. Hundreds, if not thousands of books can be stored on one slim ebook reader, making it a great choice for travel and vacations.

Both the Kindle 2 and the Sony 505 are worthwhile to take a look at; each has its die-hard fans, but for being the the industry leaders in the new ebook reader market, they are actually two very different products, with pros and cons that are almost complete opposites of each other. To decide which one you should buy, read on. I have done my research, and I am now ready to present it to you!

Red Sony PRS-505 Ebook Reader
Red Sony PRS-505 Ebook Reader

Readability

The clarity of the text on both the Sony 505 reader and the Kindle is among the highest of all ebook readers; however, reviewers who have had both side-by-side report the Sony has slightly more contrast because the Kindle's background is more gray.

On the other hand, the refresh time between page turns is slightly longer on the Sony than on the Kindle, though again, the difference is not huge. It actually isn't very noticeable after you've gotten used to it for a few pages, but it's an inherent issue with ebook readers because of the E-Ink technology involved.

The Kindle has 6 font sizes available, while the Sony has 4. Default fonts and font sizes for both devices can be altered using an ebook reader management program such as Calibre, which works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Side-by-side comparison of the readability of the Kindle 2 and the Sony 505 (credit: kindleboards.com)
Side-by-side comparison of the readability of the Kindle 2 and the Sony 505 (credit: kindleboards.com)
Reading with the Amazon Kindle 2 (credit: itechnews.net)
Reading with the Amazon Kindle 2 (credit: itechnews.net)

Supported Formats

At a first glance, Sony wins big-time in this area, offering native support for LRF and EPUB, which are popular ebook formats in online ebook stores, as well as PDF, which can be important for professionals who must read many documents in PDF format. The Sony 505 also reads TXT, RTF, JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG, MP3, and AAC natively.

On the other hand, the only format that the Kindle 2 can read without conversion is its proprietary AZW format, which is what books downloaded from the Amazon Kindle website are in, as well as MOBI, another popular ebook format (if you use Calibre). However, through conversion, which is free if you do it through the USB cable, or $.15 per MB if you do it through Amazon's online service, you can use TXT, MP3, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP on your Kindle.

An important concern for many people is the quality of the PDF format, and a question that I hear asked many times. There is a difference between supporting the PDF format and supporting it well. However, the fault lies with the format itself, which is of a static design, meaning it won't reflow like a normal text document would to fit the smaller-than-computer-screen-sized nature of ebook readers. Neither the Kindle 2 nor the Sony 505 will display a PDF document perfectly, especially if it is complex with many images and multiple columns; you will need a larger, and thus more expensive ebook reader for that. Check out the iRex Iliad if you need one right this instant, or look into getting the Amazon Kindle DX when it is released.

Opening screen of the Sony 505 Reader (credit: dodevice.com)
Opening screen of the Sony 505 Reader (credit: dodevice.com)
Sony PRS-505 in a case (credit: justread.de)
Sony PRS-505 in a case (credit: justread.de)

Availability of Ebooks

The Amazon Kindle's single biggest advantage over the Sony reader, and indeed, any other ebook reader, is the vast quantity of books available at Amazon's ebook store, and the ability to download them wirelessly in a few minutes. If you are willing to pay for a large number of novels and/or popular non-fiction books, don't mind the digital rights management software on them, and want to have them almost instantly, the Kindle is catering to your demographic. Wireless service comes with the Kindle 2 device and is available all over the US.

However, the Kindle 2 is only available in the United States, for now and the foreseeable future. This may very well make the Kindle 2 not an option for you. Some people get around this if they have relatives or friends in the US, but you must have both a US credit card and a US address to ship it to for this to work. If you do manage to beat the system, you should be able to download books through the Amazon store or through using the MOBI format and Calibre.

If you use the Sony device, you will be precluded from shopping off of Amazon, but you can use most other books stores, as most will offer at least one of the two ebook formats, EPUB or LRF. These will be smaller stores and may be specific to a niche genre. Some books are also available for download direct from the publisher. A strategy that has worked for some people is emailing the publisher and telling them you'd love to have an ebook, and they may it available in a store or on their own website. Searching for books to read on your Sony will be less convenient than the massive ebookstore that Amazon offers.

Stephen King on the Amazon Kindle 2 (Credit: wirededucator.com)
Stephen King on the Amazon Kindle 2 (Credit: wirededucator.com)
Kindle 2 (credit: blogkindle.com)
Kindle 2 (credit: blogkindle.com)

Extras

The biggest visual difference between the Sony 505 and the Kindle 2 is the fact that the Kindle 2 offers a text annotation and dictionary lookup feature. Depending on your reading habits and the content, this may be a useful option for you.

Both offer a book tagging system to aid in organization, but Sony also has a folder-style hierarchy system called "collections," while the Kindle 2 does not. Also, the Kindle 2 has no expandable memory, instead storing any overflow on their servers for your download when you want them, while the Sony supports memory expansion through SD or SDHC memory sticks.

The Kindle 2's screen size is slightly larger, while the Sony is slightly slimmer. In regards to total size, the Kindle 2 is significantly larger than the Sony 505 due to the Kindle's keyboard.

The Sony 505 is about $60 cheaper than the Kindle 2 currently ($299 versus $359).

Text-to-speech is supported on the Kindle 2. Both devices support audio files through a headphone jack.

My Decision

For its superior contrast, smaller, more book-like reading experience, and its native support for a variety of formats, I personally chose the Sony PRS-505. I wanted my ebook reader experience to be as much like reading a book as possible. I found the Kindle's keyboard distracting and unnecessary, and I appreciated Sony's decision to support other formats besides their own.

I don't mind doing a bit of searching and Calibre conversion to get an ebook onto my reader, and would never use any of the Kindle's text look-up or search options, and can download books before my trip, making the wireless service unimportant to me.

In my mind, it all comes down to how important immediate access to popular books is for you. For me, I chose the ebook reader that was as much like reading an actual paper book as possible: the Sony PRS-505 ebook reader.

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10 comments

Dylan 7 years ago

I liked the review, but the one thing it's missing is a final verdict. It just sort of...ends. As a game reviewer for various websites, I thought maybe there was another page but to my disappointment, it didn't have a conclusion. I'm a Canadian and I don't feel like jumping through hoops so I think I'm going to be going with the Sony 505, but I would have liked to see a tally of the scores of some sort. Great review nonetheless.


brittanyc profile image

brittanyc 7 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Thanks for the constructive criticism - I was trying to be as unbiased as possible, but I see your point and have added in my final thoughts on the Kindle versus the Sony 505. As you can see, I chose the Sony also, so I think yours is a good choice!


Phigment 7 years ago

brittanyc, IF my Gemstar 1100, ever dies. I'd be tempted to go for the sony myself. The thought of an Ebook reader with a built in hardware keyboard is just bizare. That's like glueing a chalkboard on a paperbook. Everyone needs to keep in mind.. it's an EBook READER... paper books can't play music, or take notes or act as a PDA. I guess when ever something electronic comes out, everyone wants to shove everything including the kitchen sink on it.

Also, I'd consider Sony AND Kindle way over priced. I guess until ebookwise runs out of thier ebook readers, I'll be sticking with the Ebookwise 1150 model.


Fresh_Flower profile image

Fresh_Flower 7 years ago from London

Good review. I think I will go for the sony


Tottie profile image

Tottie 7 years ago from Australia , or China, or South Korea.

Thank you for an excellent review. I'm not keen on the e-book concept but will probably buy one in the near future, so I appreciate your review.


Joe 6 years ago

Thanks for the very informative review. I believe I will go with the Sony as well.


Nicko 6 years ago

Thanks for review, and i definitely will buy Sony..


Pam 6 years ago

You didn't mention another key flaw of the Sony Reader.

The kindle 2 will read to you the Sony Reader can not.

Something negative in regards to both is neither have a built in light however the Reader comes in a binder with a light over the screen. I own both and use them both and prefer the Kindle much more. It is superior in it's ability to download books anywhere. You hear someone mention a cool book and boom you look it up and buy it within minutes or seconds depending on how fast you type. Also there are a number of free books you can download onto the Kindle.

They are both neat but the Kindle is my prefrence.


Text-to-Speech 6 years ago

It's unfortunate that other ereaders don't have the text-to-speech feature. I'm very interested in the other non-Kindle devices because 1) they take SD memory cards, 2) can do photos and other items. HOWEVER, I LOVE Kindle's text-to-speech feature which is great to put down when doing other projects, ie taking a shower, driving, doing other computer work, etc, and all-the-while the Kindle is reading right along. The voice quality of the text-to-speech isn't perfect, but it isn't bad either, and TtS has come a long way in the last few years. You can also plug the kindle into the aux. input for your car audio and have the kindle reading books through your car stereo. The fact that Kindle has a FREE web browser and can be used to do just about anything on the web, though slow, is still a great tool to have along. I've used it for Google maps and other websites while on the road and it's really nice to have it there - and it's much nicer than on my phone. So when the other readers get text to speech, I'll likely switch because they certainly have great features. Meanwhile, I've taken to converting my PDF files with Mobipocket creator, which like Calibre, will convert PDFs into various formats that Kindles does read. And for those who are misinformed, Kindle supports several file formats, and not just Kindle/Amazon proprietary formats.

I understand the Kindle version 1 had an SD slot, what a shame they removed it if that's true. That's a mistake I see them reversing in version 3.

And HELLO! Can anyone add a back-light to these damned things? Clip on lights, absurd!


Undecided 6 years ago

I think they both seem nice. Im inclined to the kindle because they have text to speech. And the library is super cheap. Something about the sony is just not making me want one i think touch screens are a bit odd. You dont want smudge marks all over your ereader. A real book doesnt have smudges all over the pages. I understand that it comes with a stylus but whos going to tale that out everytime they want to flip the page? I certainly wouldn't have the patience, especially if the story line is heating up. Although the nook ( i know we arent talking about that) but its does seem nice because they have a touch screen and a normal screen with buttons on the side like the kindle. So im going to keep researching and maybe wait until the kindle three comes out. Hopefully this one would have a memory slot. This concludes my post

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