Thursday, August 19, 2010

E-reader Mecca for Knitting!!

As a newbie to the e-reader/ebook/audiobook world, I had bought a Sony Touch locally, with a 30-day return policy in case I just didn't take to e-reading. Well, I did take to it, but with further research, as of yesterday I was going to take back the Sony and go with the Kindle. I didn't think much about the annotation feature that Sony has, but then yesterday I really started looking at that.

Whereupon the whole ball game took a turn.

I'm falling in L-O-V-E with the Sony Touch e-reader. While its screen needs the right lighting for optimal reading (a trade-offish fact of life with a "Touch" screen), what I've discovered is that the potential of the Sony Touch's note taking is phenomenally suited to me as a knitter!

It all started when I downloaded Berroco's free Nimbus pattern into it. Well, I don't know about other knitters but I've learned that before I even start knitting something, to go through the pattern and circle all the size-related instructions because... (yup, I have done that. Twice. It's a mistake I don't want to ever make again. I've learned to circle all size-related stitch instructions).

So here's what the Sony Touch Annotation features will let you do. From within the reader. On the pattern page itself.

NOTE: Screen looks way worse in photos than it is. Photographing my very clear, crisp Samsung TV screen does the same thing.

While at marking up the page, since I'm not yet used to the upper right corner "dog ear" icon signifying that Bookmark Notes exist for that page, I drew two big arrows pointing to the icon. In other words, you can circle text, write in margins, cross things out as you knit them... there's unlimited, endless flexibility. You can mark or write with your fingernail but a way more civilized stylus comes with it, and Sony placed it in a totally secure, very accessible slot.

Now, page 2 of this pattern was blank. What a perfect place for a sketch! So I drew a sketch on it.

But then I also wanted to try out the Bookmark Notes feature, and this time, use the keyboard. (Bookmarks can be brought forward by a soft tap on the dog-ear, then whooshed away again by a soft tap on the X box.)

You can also draw on the bookmark notes page. That or the keyboard, you have that choice.

So the usefulness of the entire annotation scope of this Sony Touch, to me, is fast becoming a dealmaker/dealbreaker thing. As a reader, not so much. As a knitter? Indispensible.

As for e-readers in general, I'm totally sold on them. You bring this one unit with you, and you have your pattern(s). You have your book(s). You have a stitch dictionary perhaps. This particular unit also reads Microsoft Word files, so what the hey, you might have a draft of something you want to keep working on. Have Touch/Stylus, will travel. Each brand of e-reader has a different amount of storage space built in. Sony has a respectable amount, but. BUT! It happens to also have two slots for SD cards. The normal camera type... up to 16 Gigs! I don't know how much the Duo Stick card can have, I didn't care at that point.

Finally, as some e-readers go, and the Sony Touch is one of them, if you want to listen to music or an audiobook while keeping any of those things on the screen? No problem. It's also an MP3 player. (And with 16G+ of storage space)... EGADS!

Kindle is coming out with a new generation, and there's no question its screen is going to be better. Its current model already is. But the more I've learned, the more I've found that I'm just a tad bugged by Amazon's proprietary format limitations. The one downside to this Sony Touch is that it's lacking in screen contrast definition, and the Touch Screen technology adds inherent glare. But hey, for me? As a knitter? For someone who wants to jot notes on things? The annotation/drawing potential that this thing has... it's just way too compelling. As for the screen issue, Sony makes an e-reader cover for it (opens like a book) that has a convenient, although not perfect, light built right into it. The Kindle has one of those also, but the Sony needs it in some lighting. I've learned to position it so there's no glare (a fiddly process currently, but I will get better at it) but it definitely helps the dull contrast issue.

So that's that. Whether I keep this one or return it and wait for Sony's new generation (which is rumored to have everything this does but improved screen contrast is hoped for), I don't yet know. I'll probably have to make up my mind before the new model comes out. But I'm definitely going with the Sony. The annotation feature (which had sounded so "pfffft, meh" to me as a book reader), is now a deal-making feature for me as a knitter. It's pretty much become a done deal.