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This is our reader review page.
Please note, our reviews are directed to cruisers and deals with cruisers use of the readers that WE HAVE and USE.
We are NOT going to review any item we do not have AND use.
This review is taking place on December 9, 2009
Updated December 13, 2009

Out of the box
This is what we got out of the box.
Side by Side
Side by side view, Sony off, Nook in sleep mode.
Main menu
Side by side view at the top menu on each.

Sony PRS-505

Sony PRS-505 Portable Digital e-Reader System (Silver)Sony PRS-505
Jill has had her 505 for about 2 years

See a video mini Op-Eval of this reader by clicking here
Barnes & Noble Nook

I understand that this is the first version of the firmware on the Nook and many things can and will change as time goes on. But for sailors planning to head out soon, think about what you can live with or not.

Brown is what I wrote. Green is what I am saying now.

Side By Side

For the Nook - The USB charging/data cable is NOT a standard cable. The small end (the end that goes into the Nook) is VERY small and hard to tell what side it up. This might be a problem aboard the boat and will be very hard to do at night. Now (12/12/09), I have been informed that it is a type of standard USB connector, it's micro-USB. That's fine, but I still think this may be a problem aboard the boat.
For the Sony – The USB cable is standard. (small end is mini-USB)

Both the B&N Nook and our Sony 505 are about the same size. See photo. We can use a small zipper case from one of the office supply stores for our 505 and will try to go the same route for the Nook.

The Sony came with a nice leather protective cover. The 110 Volt charger for the Sony was extra.
The nook did not come with any cover. It did come with a 110 Volt charge adapter.

If you like hardware buttons, the 505 has them.
If you like menus, the Nook has them.

When turned off, the Sony screen is blank
When turned off, the Nook screen has a selectable graphic on it, NICE. See photo.

NEW ITEM for all E-Readers

I just downloaded a free computer e-book software package called Calibre. I must say I like this a LOT! The new version (calibre-0.6.27) has been updated to work with the Nook. I loaded a number of books into the program. I also found the ability to download news sources directly in the program. I selected to do a one-time download of CNN and Discover Magazine. It worked very well and was on my computer. When I connected the Nook, it was seen quickly and IT SAW THE SD CARD! This is the first time I have seen the card on the Nook other than in the “”settings” page. It was not even showing up on my computer when I plugged the Nook in. I then saw that Calibre put my CNN news onto the Nook, on the SD card.

I was very surprised to see how well it worked! And the BIG surprise was that when I opened the news on the Nook, it has the headlines highlighted. When I pressed the little “o” on the Nook with a headline highlighted, I was taken to that story! Just like surfing on the web. I feel this is a BIG advantage!

After I used the Calibre program I closed it. A short time later, I connected the Nook to the computer and looked in the “My computer” window and NOW Windows sees the SD card also! I don't know why it's working now and did not before, but hay, I guess that's why they call them confusers!

Link to Calibre, click here.

Nook first impressions.

After I plugged in the nook and charged it for a few hours I started using it. The first impression I got was that there is a BIG lack of documentation for the unit.
I said, “I did read the manual that comes loaded on it. But, it did not tell me how to remove the back so I could load an SD chip.”

Now (12/11/09), OK, I found the 2ed longer manual on the nook. It's 115 pages. It does tell how to remove the back and put the MicroSD card in.

I had pre-loaded a few PDF book on the SD chip, but once I installed it, the Nook did see the chip, BUT did not automatically see the books on the chip, bummer. STILL (12/11/09) never got the unit to read the preloaded PDF files. I finally removed the SD, moved the files to my laptop, erased them from the SD card, put the SD card back in, and did what they call “Side Load” the files back into the NOOK. Now they show up just fine.

The feel of the Nook is very stable and sturdy, but a bit heavy. The reading is VERY good. I did NOT think it had all that much of a delay when changing screens or turning pages. But I'm a cruiser and not in a big hurry. ;-)

At first I thought the color menu area could not be adjusted for brightness. This might hamper your night vision if used during a night watch. But then, you also need a light to read at night, so it may not be important to you. I then did find an area to adjust this setting.

On 12/8/09 at 9:30 PM, I sent a question to B&N asking about the Nook not seeing the PDF docs on the chip and the ability to load PDF documents to the B&N reader software.
Now (12/11/09) I just go to the Nook help forum. I see a lot of info there that helps.
In the PM, I got a reply email from B&N Nook Support, they asked me to call and provided a number.

The books that you purchase from B&N go directly to the reader. The others, PDF, previously owned ePub or..., must be put onto the nook by attaching it to your computer, opening the Nook window, and pasting the book into the books area. No so much different from the Sony or any other reader.

So far, before I started a B&N account, my old books (converted to Epub with eCub) that are put in the books area will ONLY show up in the order I loaded them in. I do not see any way to sort by author or subject Etc... That makes the ability to store 1000+ books, NOT very appealing! Unless I want to purchase them ALL!
Now (12/11/09) The manual does say that you can sort, but that must be in the next update of the firmware.

The B & N area for books does allow sorting the books. But that is not in the “my documents” area.

The readability of PDF files is POOR on BOTH units!
Now (12/11/09) I have loaded a number of PDFs on and some read well, some DO NOT. See photos.
For use aboard our boat PDFs of service manuals for our gear are vital to have. I may have to decompile them back to a text file for proper use.
Link 10 PDF manualLatitude 30 PDFLatitude 38 Not so goodAdvertisers ad
This is our Link-10 PDF manual. Not bad. But the photos don't translate well.This is a copy of Latitude 38. You can see that this is readable. I can also make the type face larger.

This is another area of the same mag. But in this area I can NOT make the print any larger. Almost not readable at all.

I was surprised that some of the adds were also not sizable and I could NOT make them readable!

I also tested it on our Yanmar manual and it worked very well. So, it's sort of a hit or mis.

I registered my nook. Then went to the “shop” area. Did a search for “free”. Found a batch of books with “free” in the title and many with a price of free. I tried to purchase a “free” book, but because I do not leave a default credit card on file with B&N I can NOT get even a free book download.

Now (12/11/09) I have learned that the unit has 3 power settings, off, sleep, on. If you do not use the unit for a selectable time (5 or 10min or...) the unit goes into sleep mode. During sleep mode, it is still on and does things, so it is always using some power. For us cruisers, I think I will be turning the unit off when at sea or in foreign countries. To actually turn the unit off, you need to press the on/off button and hold it in for 5+ seconds. If you just push the on/off for 1 or 2 seconds, it just goes into sleep mode and still has a photo or screensaver on the screen. When I turn my unit off, the eink screen has nothing showing.

Now (12/11/09), As some what of a geek, I always turn off my electronics as most charge a lot faster if they are off. The documentation tells me that the unit should NOT be off to charge it! When you plug in the charger, the unit turns on or wakes up, do not turn it off.

I very much like the way I can put my own wallpaper and screensaver on the Nook. I took some of our photos, dropped them into a graphics program and reduced them to gray scale for better showing. I feel a bit better with our faces on the unit when I set it down. Might make some one less likely to trot off with it??

More to come as I play with the system.......

FYI From the Nook site FAQs

Q. Does the nook wireless work everywhere?
Your nook can connect to B&N Fast & Free Wireless networks in the United States. These networks are cellular data networks that are widely available. In areas without B&N Fast & Free Wireless coverage, you can rely on Wi-Fi to access network services. Wi-Fi access is available in all Barnes & Noble Bookstores.

Your nook cannot connect to other cellular data networks in the United States. It cannot connect to any international cellular data networks, including those in Canada and Mexico. Wi-Fi connectivity is possible globally.

Q. Can I read my nook on a plane?
Yes, but you'll need to turn off the wireless feature. To do this simply, turn on Airplane mode in Settings. When you reach your destination, turn off Airplane mode.

Q. Can I use my nook while traveling abroad?
Yes, when you travel abroad, you can read any files that are already on your nook. You can connect to Wi-Fi hotspots that do not use proxy security settings, such those commonly used in hotels, and download eBooks and subscriptions already in your online digital Library. You cannot, however, purchase additional eBooks and subscriptions.

Q. Will new issues of eNewspapers and eMagazines be downloaded to my nook while I'm traveling?
Yes, if you are traveling in the United States, or if you are abroad but connected to a supported Wi-Fi hotspot, new issues are delivered to your online digital Library in both cases. When travelling abroad without Wi-Fi access, new issues are not downloaded to your nook (automatically or manually).

Q. Can I take my nook through airport security?
Yes. You might be asked to put your nook in a separate bin when going through airport security. If the security person asks what it is, you can tell him/her that it is an eReader. You might be asked to turn it on.

Supported book formats

DRM-free Text: BBeB Book (LRF), PDF, TXT, RTF, ePUB.

See all Specs at Wikipedia
Supported book formats

EPUB and eReader Formats
PDFs load easily
PDFs, MP3s and graphics load to your nook from your computer or micro SD card.
Use JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP files to create personal screensavers.

See the Specifications
for the Nook

Two Eee PCs that can also read booksASUS Eee PC 1005HA-VU1X-BK 10.1-Inch Black Netbook - 8.5 Hour Battery Life
Both Jill and I also have an original 7 inch, Eee PC and I have to add here that they can be used as an E-Book reader. These computers have Windows XP on them. They also have some extra programming that Asus put on them from the start. One of the programs is a control of the screen. It allows us to rotate the screen 90 degrees. So, by using this feature, we can turn the computer on it's side and read it just like a book.

Having said that, Jill does NOT like reading books on it. It's to much like a computer monitor (which it is) and hurts her eyes after a short time.

I am not happy with it as even though it's power usage is VERY SMALL by computer standars, it still uses a lot more than a simple paperback book.

The PROs; is that it also runs other programs, like a backup navigation system. It does E-Mail and surf the WEB. It will play movies with an external CD/DVD drive. Is capable of reading ALL E-Book formats.

Can read ANY AND ALL
types of E-Books with the correct software.

See Specs at Wikipedia