Open the cover and turn on the power switch and you will immediately see the clarity of the e-ink technology. The 6” diagonal screen is clean and crisp. There is no backlighting so reading is easy on the eyes. Just like a real book, the screen is readable in bright sunlight, but requires external lighting for reading at night. Although the type is very dark gray and the background is a slightly grayish white, the result is similar to reading a black and white paper book.
As shown in Figure 3, the navigation buttons run along the right side and the bottom of the Reader. The Menu button on the right side of the Reader brings up the Menu, which is shown on the screen in Figure 3. From here you can continue reading your last selection or choose any book in your Reader by title, author, and date. You can access audio or picture files that you have put on the device. You can also access any bookmarks that you have created by pressing the small book mark button to the right of the left scroll wheel on the front of the Reader.
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Figure 3: The front of the Sony Reader.
While in the Menu screen and other screens on the Reader, there are two ways to make your choice. You can use the numbered buttons that run along the right side of the Reader to choose from the numbered list on the screen or you can use the scroll wheel on the right side of the front of the device to move up and down the choices, pressing the middle of the wheel to confirm your selection.
There are also two ways to turn the pages. You can use the scroll wheel on the left front of the device or the forward and back buttons that are on the right side of the front of the Reader. This provides good navigation for both left and right-handers.
When you turn the page, there is a slight delay and a little flash as the e-ink readjusts itself to the new content. This is a function of the e-ink technology and it is currently found in all readers that use e-ink. Although it can be a bit disconcerting at first, it is quite easy to get used to.
One nice feature of this Reader is that you can change the orientation of the screen. This can be done from the Settings Menu or by holding down the small button with the magnifying glass for five seconds. We found that while there were times that we like using the screen in the landscape (horizontal) position. However, when in that screen orientation, the page turning and selection buttons were a bit more difficult to use.
The small button with the magnifying glass is also used to change the size of the text. Unfortunately, there are only three choices, small, medium, and large. The large won’t be large enough for those with vision problems. If you are looking for an e-book reader to get large text, you will want to skip the Sony and look at the Amazon Kindle. We’ll give you more comparisons of the Sony Reader and the Kindle on Page 5 of this review.