Friday, May 30, 2008

The Sony Digital Reader and a Growing up Green Giveaway

Sony Digital ReaderIn recent headline news folks around here know I'm pretty excited about the Sony Digital Reader I was sent to review. I'd seen these jobbies (that's a word me mum uses--it means "thingamabobs" or "doohickies") over at the bookstore but I thought, "I hate reading books on my Palm so why would I spend money on a digital reader?" I didn't go into the experience with what you'd call an open mind.

But I have to say it's pretty slick. I mean slick. First of all I have to point out that Sony's reader is one of the less-expensive models you can buy and though I haven't looked at any of the others out there for comparison with the Sony reader you can load up to 160 books and the filing system has been very comfortable.

What I mean is that you can easily flip around between books and bookmarks and places you've been reading with ease which kind of surprised me--I expected it to be harder to navigate, like my Palm. It's not good if you're trying to search for a particular passage, as you would looking up something in the dictionary or a Bible because there isn't a search feature but for straight reading it works like a charm.

I like the feel of the unit, it has a nice weight to it, and it came with a lovely leather cover. The screen is nice to read, not the irritating display that my Palm has that makes reading more trouble than it's worth, this one actually looks like a page. It's nice to have so many books in so small a space, I can read several at once without having to tote them all around which will be particularly nice when I travel, no more guessing how many books to squeeze into my luggage. Supposedly the battery works for 7500 page turns on one charging and it seems to last plenty long so far.

Though here's a warning: when I took it out of the package the first thing I did was to plug it into the computer's USB port for a good charging but don't do that! At least, first turn the unit on, then plug it in, otherwise when it arrives in the sleep mode and is plugged in the unit locks and won't turn on at all for 40 minutes until it's completely charged. I thought I'd got a broken reader at first because it wouldn't turn on while it was plugged in and it wasn't until I went back and checked again later that I got it to turn on.

Irony is, the place in the directions where it tells you all of this information is in the User's Guide installed on the reader. Not on the quick start pamphlet you first see when it comes out of the box. Hmmm. . . maybe putting that tidbit on the pamphlet with a big "Don't plug it in until you've turned it on or it locks up" would be helpful rather than leaving that info on the locked-up reader.

Anyway, it worked wonderfully once I figured out what I'd done.

A couple other things to keep in mind: First, it doesn't have a light. WHAT? No light? I know, that surprised me too that you can't have a light for reading in the dark but apparently it's to maintain the page-like quality of the screen. A bit of a downside--though as I said, that screen is a beauty so maybe it's a fair trade-off.

Second, Sony ebook software that comes with the reader isn't Mac compatible. It took a bit of figuring out to get books into my library but apparently the best thing to do is to download the free application at Calibre which allows you to manage your ebook library on your Mac and then there are plenty of places such as manybooks.net that allow you to quickly download free ebooks. When you select the format you wish to download, choose the "Sony.lrf" option and that'll do it.

Anyway, if you're looking for a Father's Day gift this might be a nice little way to guarantee you a spot in Dad's will. I'm just saying . . .

I carry mine in my purse all the time now and love it. The Sony site also has a refurbished section where you might get some good deals if they get one in stock (and we all know how I'm a refurbished freak now with my new Macbook).

***

Growing up Green by Deidre ImusAnd to continue with the week of books ("books" seems to be the theme doesn't it?) yesterday's winner is Stacy of Stacy's World--please claim your books by emailing me your address--and for today book giveaway here's Growing up Green by Deidre Imus.

If you'd like a shot at winning today's book leave a comment on this post and check back tomorrow to see if you won. I'll take entries until midnight.

This is the second in a series of books called Green This! and apparently Imus is an environmentalist and child advocate who gives you the run down on how to protect your children from all sorts of environmental hazards.

I'm not sure I'm the best person to promote this particular book seeing that my kids have grown up licking the lead paint off the walls and riding without their bike helmets (though they have been properly vaccinated and they do wear their seat belts, thank you very much). I take most of the environmental dangers du jour with a big fat grain of salt and ignore most of the news programs that try to work me up into a panic over the latest toxin they've discovered. That said, I do think there is some merit to this book, judging from my peek at it.

For example, there are chapters on Autism Spectrum Disorders, the over-medication of children, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the overuse of antibiotics--all valid issues in my mind. I'm less convinced about Imus' connections between environmental triggers of childhood cancers.

For example, she says, "Researchers have linked environmental exposures to a jaw-dropping number of health problems: learning disabilities, hyperactivity, headaches, asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, autism, eye damage, pediatric cancer and even rheumatoid arthritis."

I have a hard time blaming radon gas, Nalgene bottles and pesticides for all of these problems because I've seen too many children stuck inside addicted to video games and Coke to go looking for some Secret Destroyer. I tend to wonder how many childhood issues would be corrected by a regular 10-12 hours of sleep, a healthy diet full of fruits and veggies, plenty of exercise and much less screen-time. However, it's easier and more profitable to tell parents to throw out all their plastic bottles than to tell them to take away the t.v. isn't it? It's much easier to hear "keep them away from lead paint" rather than "get plenty of exercise and avoid the junk food."

So there are some non sequiturs in the book. Take page 125 where it says, "If you study this long list of vaccines, you might reasonably assume that America's children, because they are the most vaccinated, are also the healthiest in the world. In reality, the opposite is true: As more and more vaccines have been added to the recommended immunization schedule, the overall health of our children has actually declined. Could there be a connection?"

This surprises me because it's so fallacious--yes, the overall health of American children has declined but to make the assumption that vaccinations are the result is illogical. Childhood obesity is so rampant, with one in three American children being overweight, that Type II diabetes, normally reserved for fat adults, is threatening children. The startling use of common drugs like caffeine and alcohol has shot up and binge drinking among teens is epidemic. Seems to me that vaccinations would be toward the bottom of a long list of possible reasons why American children aren't as healthy as they used to be--but once again it's easier to tell a parent not to vaccinate than it is to tell them to not let their child drink alcohol on the sly. Tell parents to do something that they can control rather than something that's nearly impossible to control and they'll feel that they're protecting their children and will sleep better at night.

So . . . having said all this, I think there is some merit to Imus' book--personally I'd always prefer a good home remedy for my cold symptoms rather than paying for a trip to the doctor for a pill--but be careful that it doesn't get you worked up over the latest thing to fear. We have enough real dangers in our lives today without worrying about the latest toxin that's coming to kill our children.

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36 comments:

perilloparodies said...

oooh, sounds like a handly little bit of technology they might like to market to all those moms- like me- out there who would like to be able to read more than bedtime stories to their kids at night or magazine articles in the grocery line... I am always on the look- out for a book of short stories with moral themes that I can enjoy and then even share some with my kids, but sometimes it would be so nice to read through a novel again... time- you make it, it does not wander in from nowhere. Hmmm... will have to consider this one as I miss not reading as much as i used to... thank you...

Anonymous said...

Great post! I am totally with you on the scare tactics and strange conclusions that are entertained these days.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I'm with you on the junk food/total screen all the time diet - I don't doubt that there are environmental poisons out there, but that's not where most of the problems stem from.

I would be really, really interested to hear you compare Kindle to the Sony. Think you can get Amazon to send you one?

Jennifer said...

I enjoyed your comments about the book. I have always wondered why they enjoy working us into a panic. Moderation always seems to be the best policy to me.

Story Girl said...

My husband has been oohing and ahhing over digital readers for a few months. At first it sounded rather sci-fi. I too wonder how the Sony reader compares to the Kindle. Great review!

Karen said...

I could NOT agree with you more about the dangers of getting too caught up in the "environmental" scares. I'm all for being green, but you have to allow your children to LIVE as well - and guess what? My kids ride their bikes without helmets (does that make me a bad mom?).

Interesting digital reader...I have never even entertained the thought of owning one - but that just looks neat.

saratogajean said...

I'm so jealous of your life as a reviewer (among other things)! I mean, I've been giving my opinions out for free for a while now. I'm not sure if it's doing anyone any good, except for the time I saved my cousin $8.99 on the paperback edition of Eragon when I told him not to buy it; it was worth it to get on the waiting list at the library.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I love the thought of a small device in my travel bag rather than my usual small library of books. But it boggles my mind that they wouldn't have a reading light in the unit somewhere. When traveling it usually isn't until night, when the kids are sleeping, that I get a chance to read.

Love your comments on living green. I've thought the very same thing so many times. I microwaved food in a plastic container *gasp* and had someone chew me out royally for doing so. The person and her husband also happen to smoke around their children. Iguess because they were good about not re-heating in plastic it obviously canceled out the harm of second-hand smoke.

Sara said...

I'd love the chance to read Growing Up Green!

Jen said...

Sounds like an interesting book.

I actually like reading on my Palm, weirdly. What is it you don't like about it?

Ginny said...

I've heard a lot of good things about the Sony Digital Reader, I think I'd like it. Great giveaway also!

Chris said...

Another site for free ebooks is GirlEbooks. Classic novels by female writers:

http://site.girlebooks.com/xs.php?page=ebooks&siteid=223

Emily May said...

hello sony digital reader

Carinne said...

I had to laugh. My sister in law chewed me out for giving my kids diet pop (they rarely drink pop as it is...we were on vacation and it was an isolated incident). She firmly told her kids and her husband they weren't allowed to drink the diet soda because Nutra sweet was evil and horrible and caused cancer etc etc. HOWEVER - she then hands her kids a non diet (full of calories and sugar) and caffeine full Dr. Pepper. Her and her family sucks down Dr. Peppe like its water - literally. Her and her husband are horribly over weight too. I just stared at her gasping for something to say.

chickadee said...

i'm not sure i'd like reading on such a small screen. do you have to upload books to it? i love my ipod though and putting audio books on it. no need for a light since it reads to me.

Motherhood for Dummies said...

If you really want to give it away... I'll be nice and take it off your hands for you... if you like. Just to help though :)

Scribbit said...

To answer a few of your questions: The screen is about the size of a paper back novel page so it's nice and big (though the unit is as thin as a handheld device or an iphone) you can enlarge the print via a small, medium and large setting.

On my Palm the screen is so small and you have to scroll down through the text in a way that makes it uncomfortable for me to read. On the Sony you advance the page with a click of the button that feels a lot like turning a page.


I would like to see how the Kindle works, especially with my new Mac now.

Thanks for the link Chris, there are so many sites for free books out there it's nice to get a recommendation.

And Chickadee, yes you have to upload books onto it. Once you download the Calibre software (if you have a Mac) or the ebook software that comes with it (if you have a PC) then you can go to various websites like manybooks.net or ebooks or project guttenburg or even a store such as Powells.com that sells ebooks and download your choice. It doesn't take more than a minute or two then you drag the files into your library and syncronize the library with your unit via a USB port and cord. Pretty easy once you get it set up though it took a while to discover all this with my Mac.

chelle said...

hmm I am not sure I could curl up with a cold machine and I am a geek to the core. Nothing beats a good book.

www.prayingforparker.com said...

It is nice to read blogger reviews that give an honest report of both the great and the could have been thought out a bit better features of a product.

We fly a Mac too. Wouldn't use anything else. :)

I think the Sony would be great to take along for long hospital stays or just to curl up with. I love, love, love to read.

Daphne said...

That sony sounds like the cat's meow! How wonderful to take to the park, grocery line, and the backyard while the kiddos play! I also certainly agree with your approach to the panic driven media that likes to drive all parents crazy with fear.

Megret said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I'd love to read it and then pass it along to my sister-in-law! Thanks!
meg (dot) wilson (at) gmail (dot) com

Amy said...

I just picked up this book from the library.

Great score on the review! That sounds wonderful for a busy momma!

Killlashandra said...

The digital reader looks pretty interesting. A lot of people are so old fashioned when it comes to reading, and like books. I used to be like that but more and more I find myself reading off a screen of some sort. It would be neat to just pull one of those from my bag and not be weighted down by a book.

Kristine said...

Wow - I'd love to win this book! Looks very interesting. Thanks for entering me!

Marlene said...

I've looked over the digital readers several times, but haven't invested in one yet. I wasn't sure if they were going to stay in the market for the long run. But I thought it would be nice to have so I could listen to some books on the way to work in the morning.

I would love to read Growing up Green as I am very interested in organic and eco-friendly products, but I don't want to be taken by companies either.

Tara said...

cool reader thingy! And I'd love to read growing up green.

taradawnrobertson at hotmail dot com

Relyn said...

It was nice to see you at my blog. Sursum corda means "lift up your heart".

The digital reader sounds nice and convenient, but I think I would really miss the feel of the page and the heft of the book in my hands, and in my purse.

Krista said...

Thanks for your balanced look at this book. I'm guilty of falling for all the latest scare media and then after a few days of cooling off my scientific brain says, duh, life is dangerous!
My son reacted to WaterBabies sunscreen so in my hunt for something better for him I found the EWG (environmental working group) website that lists all the "toxins" in all our toiletries. I got all freaked out for a bit. Now I really don't think MaryKay is out to poison me because they use a relative of formaldehyde in my facial moisturizer. There's gotta be a good reason for it!
anyways, I'm not entering for this post, just commenting!

Flea said...

I've been looking at Amazon's Kindle, but the price tag is off putting. My new cell phone, however, has that real page screen and I like it! I can read it without a glare. Amazon also stores your books for you, eliminating the need to take up your own computer space, but I don't think I like that much. This Sony sounds good.

I think my biggest obstacle with any reader right now is my love of used books and a good bargain. Used book files ... hmmm.

I'm right there with ya on the whole environmental thing and kids. My boy is ADHD, we've changed diet, sleeping habits are very regular, but we medicate. It makes him whole. But I can't blame the environment for this. It's genetic. And exercise helps tremendously.

Uniquely Yours said...

I've just begun to show interest in these ebooks and this gadget would have really come in handy for a recent review I did. I'm always on the go so I've never gotten into reading online books I'd have a hardcopy on hand to read instead. This would be awesome! I'm all about becoming more GREEN and anyway that I can make my family healther would be appreciated. Thanks!!!!!

all over the map said...

I'm a bit curious about this book now. There is so much information out there it's hard to sift through all of it.
What did you mean by referencing Nalgene? I am a Nalgene owner and definitely aware of unsafe plastics but sounds like this book is against Nalgene?
I believe diet is the number one weapon we have against many, if not all, of these issues our children face today. Of course, exercise and sleep being equally important but I have to say I am really cautious and not so trusting about vaccinations. It does make me sick to see so many doctors prescribing antibiotics to children over and over, urghh!

windycindy said...

Hello, From reading what you wrote about this book, I can truly believe it. I know of families that have cancer deaths a year apart. That is not just a coincidence. I would love to help make the world a cleaner, healthier place for my sons and other children. Please enter me in your delightful book drawing. Thanks,Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Bean said...

I love your blog. You review and teach me about things I would not have thought of before. Do enter me in "growing up green" please. With 4 kids any tips are helpful. thank you

Heffalump said...

It would be great to have a way to carry around over 100 books without breaking my back.
I'm not sure my hubby would be thrilled if I got one though since he gets a little jealous when I read, but since there is no light it might be okay, at least it wouldn't keep me up late...

Chief Family Officer said...

I couldn't tell if the cutoff was midnight today or midnight tomorrow, so I'm leaving this comment b/c I'd love to win this!

Lei said...

Oh man, is it midnight yet? lol, lemme go check.









Huh, not on my clock! ;)