Well, I have been living with the Reader for just over a week now. That initial rush of new gadget excitement is wearing off and the machine is finding its way into my reading routine. I cannot say as yet where it will end up in the armchair hierarchy but I am definitely beyond first impressions now.
The Reader has been in my bag when I have travelled to and from work, it has been read on trains, in the office, in the garden in bright sunlight, at night by lamplight and more or less every other situation in which I would use a book. You know, a proper one, made of paper. The Reader bears up well. It remains fun to use and I am getting plenty of reading done on it, which is the point after all.
I have enjoyed perusing the experiences of other bloggers who were sent a free Reader. Dovegreyreader has one but has yet to announce the votes of the Devonshire jury. Mark Thwaite over at ReadySteadyBook has another but only offers qualified praise. His views on the future of the technology strike me as sensible and highly likely. A couple of other bloggers I know have got one but no sign of their opinions at present.
I've also nosed around some other reviews in the press and the technology blogs. Broadly speaking most people have enjoyed using it but often have a couple of gripes. Some of the complaints will depend on personal taste. More than one person has raised the issue of screen glare or reflection under bright lights. I haven't come across that problem and have used it in a variety of situations. When light does fall across it the text remains perfectly legible to me.
Others have mentioned the annoyance of authors being listed and organised by first name. If any of them own an iPod then they will have the same problem there so it didn't come as a huge surprise to me when confronted with it. I'd prefer to be able to browse by surname but it doesn't take long to get used to.
But enough with the defence. The Reader is not perfect and does have problems. How much these bother you will depend on many factors. They certainly haven't stopped me from using it, but it would be great if they could be fixed for future versions.
First up is the menu. It is a bit clunky and not how most users would like to access their books. Basic functionality is not disimilar to an iPod - keep hitting the MENU button to go back a step - but the layout and navigation through the library is not ideal. Once you get your head round the whole first names thing it becomes a little easier but it still doesn't feel right. There is an option to arrange your books into separate collections which I have yet to explore but I am not a big fan of the menus so far.
And then we have the software. It is OK but has some odd quirks. On iTunes I keep my entire library on a hard drive and sync it with my various players as and when. Any changes or tweaks I make are made to the files on the drive. The players then look after themselves. I initially adopted the same approach with the Reader, sticking all the free classics and anything else I had into the eBook Library software. But then, every time I connected the device it attempted to add all of the books again resulting in duplication and quickly running out of room. The only solution I could come up with was to hold nothing in the library itself and just click and drag anything I wanted from its original location. Everything works fine now but it bugged me for a while.
Oh, and then the scary 'have I broken it?' moment. I used the power down option from one of the screen menus as that apparently saves the most battery power. The Reader duly powered down. So far down that I couldn't get the bugger back on again. Hours later and no combination of buttons, leads or connections would work. It was in a coma. Eventually I resorted to the pin in the back reset option and it came back on again, thankfully with its contents intact. But it did put the wind up me while it was sitting there unresponsive.
Although, to be honest, I have probably experienced similar glitches with much of the technology I have adopted in recent years. New gadgets take some getting used to and not all of their features are to your liking.
So would I fork out £200 for a Reader based on the reading experience it offers and the functionality of the machine?
Er, no, not for those reasons. But that's not all there is to it. I have more to say in the coming days but that is plenty for you to be getting on with for now.