Sony Reader and the Mac: An Unfinished StorySeptember 4, 2007
I find that I’m turning to the Sony Reader more and more often as my primary ebook reader for books that are mainly text (as opposed to those with extensive embedded images or comics). Its compactness, fast start time and long battery life are turning out to be more important than the superior display of the bigger and heavier X61T Tablet PC.
While I’ve loaded the Sony Connect software on the Windows-based X61T, my MacBook Pro is my primary machine and I prefer to manage the Reader’s content from there. While Sony’s software only supports Windows, several workarounds exist which make the Mac and the Sony Reader a viable combination. One option is to run the Sony software by installing Windows on the Mac via BootCamp, Parallels or Fusion. Mssv , and found it to be completely functional (with the notable exception of performing firmware upgrades). In this post, I’ll take a look at other methods which don’t require Windows at all.
Memory Stick or SD Card
The simplest (and most reliable) option for adding books to the Reader is via a flash memory card. Files on a card are automatically added to the Reader’s catalog when loaded via the device’s memory card slot.
Docudesk PRS Browser v1.0
This from Docudesk provides more options for browsing and file management of a Reader connected to a Mac’s USB port. The software is stable and it successfully reads the contents of the connected Reader’s internal memory. Files can be added by dragging and dropping from the Finder or browsing a dialogue box. Files can also be deleted with a single click. Flash cards in the Reader can also be read, but only the top-level directory is accessible — subdirectories can be seen but not opened.
PRS Browser’s other main limitation is in its minimal display — it only shows the file names of the books rather than the book titles stored in the files’ metadata. Other metadata like author name or file size are not available. The file-name-only display works fine for books with fairly meaningful file names. For example, Jane Rule’s downloads from WOWIO with a file name like ContractwithWorld_186849.pdf, but cryptically-named files — like those from Sony’s Connect store, with singularly unhelpful names like CBUS125110000B00U.lrf — can be a problem. In these cases, the files are best renamed in the Finder before attempting transfers to the Reader via PRS Browser.
As a version 0.3 product, the software is clearly not yet complete and can’t be expected to be fully stable. Indeed, it crashed several times in the course of my testing. However, the software promises to be a very full-featured package, with full file management options, metadata display and editing, and even file conversion capabilities into the Sony’s native reflowable .lrf format. That last feature includes the capability (due in the next update) to download, reformat and index the contents of a web site (for example, the New York Times could be downloaded, converted to the Reader and read off-line). Development appears to be moving along steadily, with version 0.4 due in late September.
In its current early-development release, libprs500 can display and edit the full metadata (title, author, file size and modification date) for books on the Mac and in the Reader’s internal memory and card slot. Files can be copied from the Mac to the Sony’s internal storage. Books in the memory card slot can be viewed and deleted but not yet added or copied.
While it clearly isn’t ready for day-to-day use, libprs500 is definitely worth watching as its development continues.