One of the many gadgets I have packed for the summer vacation was of course Sony Reader and SD card with nice selection of texts. It was fresh and fully charged, so I assumed that I will be well prepared for the gaps in program during the following three weeks ahead of us and for the long flights over Atlantic.

Obviously, the flight was first moment where Reader was used. During the 7 hours, I spent about 3-4 hours reading. We flew through the night, but the overhead spotlight in airplane was more than sufficient and the letters were very well readable. I also enjoyed the almost non-reflexive surface of the screen.

As we were traveling, I did not read much during first week - maybe 4-5 hours in total. Where I really had some leisure time and used it again was Siena (by the swimming pool) and a bit on beach in Tirrenia and Lido di Ostia. For these light conditions, the Reader is probably only electronic device usable - it is perfectly readable in direct sunlight. Few years ago I tried to read during vacation outdoors on Pocket PC - with very dismal results.

As the trip was coming towards the end, so was the battery indicator on the PRS 500. No way I have made 7500 page turns - altogether, it could have been 1000-1500 pages, with some menu searching certainly not more than 2000 turns. The reader was on for about 20 hours (which should not count as it is not supposed to consume any energy in on state). During the two and half weeks and less than 2000 turns the battery was on single bar of four.

Foolishly enough, I have not packed the charger, relying on 3000-4000 pages capacity. What a mistake. I had plan B - using USB cable and charging through computer. I had with me Macbook - without Sony Connect software (which is available in Sony's tradition for Windows only) - but I assumed that to charge all I need is powered USB port. Mistake number two - it did not work.

What happened was quite weird - the power indicator actually jumped to full after connecting, and stayed there while connected, but it looked like the computer actually drained the battery. After few hours I disconnected the reader, turned it on - and screen went blank. After reconnecting it to USB, it showed the cable indicator, but did not really charge - even when left attached overnight. As result, I was flying back without access to my ebooks. At home, after full recharge from the adapter, it behaved perfectly OK.

I am not sure whether this means that Reader really must be charged only by the wall charger - or whether the USB ports in Macbook did not have enough power for charge. I think I saw the charging via USB work before - but it was my Fujitsu Lifebook, which has the Connect installed. More experiments pending :-)

Fortunately, we were well equipped and bringing back one suitcase full of boks purchased in my favorite Bratislava bookstore - so I survived :-).

Lessons learned:

1) do not trust Sony's marketing. The 7500 page turns is an urban legend. I have reader for 8 months now and NEVER came even close to half of that number.
2) Always bring the charger - the battery will discharge even with very light use during 2-3 weeks.

3) Reader is best thing to have for outdoor, bright environments. Reading in limited, artificial light conditions is not so great - but workable. Overhead spotlight in airplane works fine.

4) Reader is good for about 20-25 hours and around 1500-2000 page turns without charge.

It is still not bad - I have no other device running for more than 4-5 hours without needing a recharge - but quiteĀ  a disappointment with respect to the high expectations.