PRS-350 PDF Review
This Sony PRS-350 PDF review will demonstrate various types of PDF files on the Sony Pocket Edition, from regular single page PDFs with only text, to more complex PDFs with multiple columns, graphs, tables, and large images.
It's obvious by the screen size of the PRS-350 that it isn't designed to be a PDF reader. Most PDFs are meant to be displayed on a something that is 8.5" x 11" or larger. And the screen of the PRS-350 is a miniscule 3" x 4".
Nevertheless, the Sony PRS-350 manages to be a serviceable PDF viewer for certain types of PDFs. Obviously it doesn't fair as well as something like the Kindle DX, but it does have some advantages over it.
The first advantage is the fact that you can add freehand notes with the stylus and typed notes with the on-screen keyboard. Hyperlinks are active, there's support for multiple levels of table on contents, and you can set the custom zoom dial to whatever you'd like. There are some pre-set zoom levels as well like 2 and 3 column split that work great for 2 and 3 column PDFs because the page moves from top to bottom instead of left to right when turning pages.
Other PRS-350 PDF features include being able to look up words in the dictionary, locking the zoom setting when turning pages (a nice new setting), add highlights and bookmarks, run searches, jump to pages, and quickly move back and forth using history. Another great new feature that helps with PDFs is being able to adjust the contrast setting manually to darken the text.
Sony PRS-350 PDF Video Review
PRS-350 PDF Default View
The first picture below is an example of a text-based single column PDF. On the small font setting, the original formatting of a PDF is preserved and sized to fit the screen.
It depends on how the PDF is formatted, but generally this particular setting isn't very readable even if you have really good eyesight. This picture, and the others below it, shows the contrast on a darker setting; the default text for this PDF is fuzzy gray without it. This makes the text look more jagged up close on the pictures, but isn't as noticeable in person.
Note: Make sure to click the images below for close-ups.
One of the benefits of the touchscreen is being able to add notes and highlights.
Another way to view the PDF is to set the custom zoom dial. There's a set to width and set to height mode for this as well. There's a new page-lock feature that sets the zoom in place for turning pages instead of resetting it as the older Sony Readers did.
With the zoom set in, you can pan around the page using the arrows or by holding and dragging around the page with a finger or the stylus.
Another way to view PDF files is to change the screen to landscape orientation. This fits the PDF to the width of the screen. In this mode the font size is larger than in portrait mode, and requires a lot more page turning because it breaks the page down into 2 sections.
2 and 3 Column PDFs
Here's a look at a typical two-column PDF document. The text is far too small to read in this layout.
This is the same document as above but with the 2 column zoom setting. With this setting active, the page is broken down into 4 quadrants, and when you turn the page it moves the zoomed box from top-left to bottom-left to top-right and so on. There's also a setting for 3 column PDFs.
Sony PRS-350 PDF Review: Mangas and Graphic Novels
Mangas and comics aren't exactly ideal for a small reader with a 5-inch screen, but some display well enough. It all depends on how the original is formatted and how much work you are willing to put in to making it look good if it isn't sized optimally for a 5-inch display.
The Manga below is a loaner from the library, and isn't optimized for 5-inch ereader so the text balloons are just barely readable in portrait view without using the custom zoom dial.
In landscape mode, the page is broken down into 2 sections, making the text quite readable. Again, it all depends on how the original is formatted, but all the one's I've tried generally look like this.
While the Sony PRS-350 has some advanced PDF viewing options, it's not something you should get solely for PDFs. The 5-inch screen is simply too small.
For single-column text-based PDFs the reflow does a decent job, but butchers anything slightly complex. For larger, image-based and multi-column PDFs the PRS-350 is usable, but requires patience and constant adjusting of zooming and panning, and more adjusting to get the text darker for PDFs with light text. Overall, it can get the job done but isn't something you'd want to use for PDFs all the time, with the exception of reflow for text-based PDFs.