I normally only use the Sony reader when I'm on a trip during which it is impractical to carry several books with me and, since I don't travel at nearly the pace I used to, my PRS-500 has been stashed out of sight for the last several months.
But this afternoon I decided to take a look at it through today's eyes rather than through the eyes of a 2005 purchaser of the technology. And, you know, this is not a bad little gizmo. Admittedly, it doesn't offer the ability to wirelessly purchase e-books from the Sony bookstore or to download any of the "million" books made available by Google. (I have been expecting to hear that Sony has upgraded the PRS-500 software to make the Google books compatible with the reader but I'm now starting to doubt that will ever happen.)
This Sony e-book reader (Sony's original version) is relatively lightweight and it has room for well over 100 books on its hard drive plus an SD card slot that makes the reader's capacity almost limitless. So this antique reader (almost three years old now) still has its uses.
What does irk me is the poor job the reader does on PDF documents and e-books not "published" by Sony explicitly for the PRS-500. The resolution on those books is very poor, so light a shade of gray on white that it is almost impossible to read them. Couple that problem with the small font displayed by the reader - and the reader's inability to adjust the font of these particular books - and the third-party books are just about worthless to owners of this Sony device. I have noticed, though, that books saved as text files are legible when displayed on the reader - just very ugly because of the limited formatting offered by text files.
This was my first visit to the Sony e-book store in a long while and I was happy to see that some very much needed cosmetic changes have been made to the store's appearance. Unfortunately, the electronic bookstore still has a clunky feel to it and it is not all that easy to move around the site with any degree of confidence. I always feel lost there. I did notice that book downloads are quicker than I remembered them to be - and, since I had to download again all 57 of the Sony e-books I own, that was nice to see. Prices are competitive with those of Amazon and Sony offers special prices on several books, even to offering about ten of them free and several others for only a buck.
I understand why Sony is spending all its time and money on the new readers. The future of the company depends on getting new products from the pipeline into the stores. I get it. But why can't Sony throw me and the other thousands of early-adapters a bone by upgrading the primitive software of the PRS-500? I buy a lot of Sony products as it is, but they could really lock my business in by showing me that they care enough about me as a past customer to keep my $300 investment working as long as possible.
Come on, Mr. Sony, give a guy a break.