after discovering how to read the new york times on my sony reader, i wanted to find out how well that really works. technically, it works fine, the libprs500 beta GUI has a simple button for initiating the download, works a while for downloading and assembling the articles, and finally produces one big LRF e-book. since i found the document to be pretty big (in terms of pages, the size is ok, and there are no pictures, it is text-only), here the results for the last three days, with the date, the size in megabyte, and the number of pages in the three available font size on the reader:
- friday 9/14: 1.1mb, 1101 (small), 1520 (medium), 2292 (big)
- saturday 9/15: 1.2mb, 1131 (small), 1550 (medium), 2341 (big)
- sunday 9/16: 1.1mb, 1161 (small), 1597 (medium), 2422 (big)
reading articles works pretty well, the bigger problem of course is navigating the newspaper. the LRF format has not been designed for this, and even though the way how the e-book is assembled from the articles is not too bad, the poor navigational features of the format, the long delay when turning pages, and the weird controls for navigation make reading a bit of a challenge. it is not too bad and works astonishingly well after a short period of time, but there is a really large gap between this experience and the polished Times Reader that is offered by the new york times.
the reader is very much designed for sequential reading. and while it is a well-designed piece of hardware, not too much testing went into the usability of the software and the controls. it is amazing to experience the gap between the really high standard of hardware design that has been a trademark of sony for decades, and the really poor design of software and services, such as the reader's internal software and the spectacularly ill-designed
CONNECT Reader software and service.
i'll try reading the newspaper like this for a little bit longer, and it is definitely nice to have an offline copy of today's paper on a truly portable device. but the lack of a search feature, the poor navigation, and the hassle of the process of getting up, starting the computer, downloading the paper, uploading it to the reader, and only then being able to read it, probably means that i will stick to the paper edition as the preferred medium.
i still believe that if the iliad people had a real will to live, they'd open up the Wi-Fi for full internet access, put a decent browser on the machine (opera! css3! google gears!), and they could own a market so big they never thought of it. but they'll probably go down soon, complaining about the market and how the market did not adapt to whatever their business model was (if they ever had one, which is highly questionable).