Sony Reader Digital Book (PRS-505)

by Michael Cook on October 3, 2007

Sony Reader PRS-505 Silver

The Reader Digital Book (PRS-505) is the latest electronic book reader to be released by Sony. Now being released in a number of different countries (including U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Netherlands), eBooks are set to make a big impact on our everyday reading in the very near future.

The current model has some significant improvements over the old PRS-500 model, the most prominent is the update of the E-Ink screen to the VizPlex technology, which gives faster page refresh times and better contrast. There have also been improvements to the button layout and the way the internal library organizes your books.

After a recent firmware update the Sony Reader now supports ePub formatted books (the new eBook standard), Adobe Digital Editions and reflowable PDF. Strong reasons even for owners of the older PRS-500 to upgrade.

What are the most important improvements in the PRS-505?

  1. The PRS-505 has a new screen that gives faster refresh times, is also a little brighter and now supports 8 shades of gray.
  2. A much improved layout design:
    • Page turn buttons moved the right side of the Reader.
    • The Numerical buttons now match up to the screen numbers so when menus are displayed the appropriate button is to the right of the entry (going top to bottom).
    • The Menu key is now by itself and clearly marked.
    • The Jog stick has been replaced with a four way arrow button and a center Enter button.
  3. Books have become easier to search as there are now tools that sort the books into alphabetical groupings for Titles or Authors.
  4. Two memory card slots (in parallel) that can support up to 2GB (SD) and 8GB (Memory Stick Duo). Because there are two separate slots the total amount of external storage the PRS-505 can support is now up to 10GB!
  5. USB functionality is much improved:
    • Support for the USB 2.0 standard, allowing for faster transfer of data.
    • The PRS-505 can be charged when the battery is fully empty using the USB port of almost any computer, even if there is no software loaded on it. The old PRS-500 needed to be plugged into a PC running pre-installed software before it could charge, and even then it would not charge if the internal Reader’s battery was dead.
  6. The Connect Reader software has been replaced with “eBook Library v2.0”, although this looks and works much like the older software. The only noticeable difference with the new software is that the PRS-505 can use its new Auto-sync feature. Please note that the PRS-505 cannot work with the older Connect Reader software.

A Sony Reader Battery Tip

The battery on the Sony Reader can manage 7,500 pages turns. However, in my experience this will be reduced quite substantially if you do a lot of navigation, changing from one book to the next or changing the screen orientation – I tend to use this last one when I need to read a PDF. This should not be a concern for most of the time as you will more likely be turning pages that changing books.

Of course, as the Reader is still not such a common toy to be seen around town with, you will probably have many people asking for you to show them what it can do.

Reading Project Gutenberg eBooks on the Sony PRS-505

Reading Project Gutenberg eBooks is very easy to on the Sony Reader. The most useful file type to use is actually the Microsoft Rich Text format (.rtf) as they will retain any rich formatting you have, such as chapter headings and italics, alas you won’t find so many of these at Thankfully, PG creates all their files in the plain .TXT format, these won’t look as pretty as the RTF documents but will still be easily readable.

Adding a Project Gutenberg eBook to your Reader couldn’t be simpler, open the Sony eBook Library software, navigate to where you have downloaded your PG eBooks and simply drag to your Reader.

Sony Reader PRS-505 is available at Amazon and Sony worldwide; fnac in France and in Germany.

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March 24, 2008 at 5:03 am

Where can I buy these e-book readers here in the Philippines? Please help me. I’m badly needing one. Thanks.

Mike Cook March 24, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Hi Mond,

This might be a little tricky. At present the Sony and Amazon Kindle are only available in the U.S., although there is talk of Sony releasing the PRS-505 in the UK this year. You might find some ingenious types who are importing, but then you’d still not be able buy any books for it.

You could take a look at the Cybook Gen 3 or Iliad, perhaps there are options to have these shipped to your home.

Best of luck!

matthew August 7, 2008 at 10:53 am

Yes, all e-ink readers currently (and for the foreseeable future, given how the tech works) flash black/white when changing pages. Otherwise, there’d be heavy ghosting.

Look for each new generation to drastically reduce that refresh time (this one is half a second faster than the previous version, I believe).

gadget August 14, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Really good post, thank you. We get the Sony Reader in the UK in Sept 2008 but as usual, more expensive than in the US (£199/$400). In the US you have the Sony eBook store, do you know of any reason why the US eBooks wouldn’t work on the UK version of the PRS-505? I’m assuming it’d work fine but just wanted to know what you thought.

Mike Cook August 14, 2008 at 5:57 pm

Good question gadget. I guess if Sony will allow you to activate your UK reader to their US website then I don’t see why not. We will have to just wait until it officially launches in September.

However as the PRS-505 can reflow PDF files, you can always buy your books from other sources such as

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