Sony introduces three light, bright touch-screen e-readers
The Reader Pocket Edition, Reader Touch Edition and Reader Daily Edition have had stylish makeovers
Computerworld - The e-reader market is constantly moving, with new models being introduced (and prices dropping) on almost a weekly rate. The latest additions are from Sony, which has revamped its line of Sony Reader e-book readers. While two out of the three new models don't have wireless connections to a bookstore -- and are therefore missing the instant gratification that Amazon's Kindle offers -- the new devices are sleek and good-looking, with a lot of interesting features.
I got a preview of the three e-readers about a week ago, and I have to say, what I saw impressed me. The new devices -- the Reader Pocket Edition, Reader Touch Edition and Reader Daily Edition -- have been redesigned to be smaller and lighter than the e-readers they are replacing. All three now share the same user interface and general physical style, although only the Daily Edition adds Wi-Fi.
Sharper, more responsive touch screen
The Sony Readers are also equipped with touch screens that use the new E-Ink Pearl displays -- the same ones used by the recently introduced Kindle DX and Kindle 3 e-readers. E-Ink claims a 50% greater contrast ratio, and thus better readability, for the Pearl than earlier e-reader displays.
Although I didn't have a Kindle or other competing e-reader around to compare them to, the older versions of the Sony devices were available, and I was able to look at them side by side with the new models. I found that the displays of the new devices were indeed brighter and more responsive than Sony's previous touch screen (which was available only with the appropriately named Touch edition). According to a company representative, the increased responsiveness is due to Sony's ability to remove a glass overlay that caused the screen to be duller and less sensitive than it now is; the current displays use infrared optical technology to locate where your finger is on the screen.
In addition, I found the new models to be surprisingly light and quite comfortable to handle. My only problem with the interface as a whole was that I got used to the touch screen and subsequently had trouble with the physical buttons below the screen. I kept accidentally hitting their labels rather than the buttons themselves, which were a little too discreetly placed for me to immediately notice them.
The Pocket Edition ($179) still offers the same 5-in. display as its predecessor but, at 5.7 x 4.1 x 0.3 in. and 11.4 oz., is smaller, lighter and more streamlined. Because the device now has a touch-screen display, Sony has been able to eliminate the buttons on the side and the large cursor control on the bottom -- the Pocket now has the same five slim buttons on the bottom that the Touch and Daily editions use. It's available in two colors, silver and pink (although the model I looked at seemed more lavender than pink).
The next in the line, the Touch Edition ($229), comes with a 6-in. display and is slightly larger than the Pocket, at 6.6 x 4.7 x 0.4 in. and 7.9 oz. (Like the Pocket, it is smaller and lighter than its predecessor.) The Sony Touch adds the ability to play MP3 and AAC audio files; it also expands its capacity with Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD media slots. It is available in black and red.
Neither the Pocket nor the Touch comes with any type of wireless communications. That's where the 9 oz. Daily Edition ($299) comes in. With a 7-in. display, the Daily now adds Wi-Fi and basic Web browsing to its AT&T 3G connection. (At the time of the preview, I wasn't able to test the browsing function.) It will be available in silver.
All three devices include 2GB of onboard memory; according to Sony, that's enough to hold about 1,200 books. Each comes with a stylus that lets you take freehand notes, or you can use the on-screen keyboard. Your notes can be exported to your computer via the same included USB 2.0 cable that lets you import and export books.
Unlike the Kindle, the e-readers in the Sony Reader line are compatible with a variety of e-book formats, including ePub (which is as close to a standard as is possible in today's e-reader market), Microsoft Word and PDF.
Both the Pocket Edition and Touch Edition are now available, according to Sony; the Daily Edition will be available in November.
Whether the new Sony Readers will succeed in what is a very competitive marketplace has yet to be seen, especially when prices are starting to drop down to the under-$100 level. In addition, people may be too fond of instant gratification to be content with e-readers that don't connect wirelessly to a book service.
However, the new UIs are very easy on the eyes, both in terms of reading and in terms of style. In addition, these devices are extremely lightweight, the touch screens are very responsive, and they accept a number of different formats, rather than pushing you into a favored format, as the Kindle does. All these factors may help to keep Sony's Readers alive in the e-reader market.
Barbara Krasnoff is reviews editor at Computerworld. When she isn't either editing or reviewing, she blogs at The Interesting Bits ... and Bytes; you can also follow her on Twitter (@BarbaraKrasnoff).
Eye on e-books
- E-reader decline prompts user debate over e-reader vs. tablet
- Last chapter for e-readers?
- Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight: An e-reader for night readers
- Bluefire launches Android-ready e-reader software for independent booksellers
- More Americans own e-readers than tablets, survey finds
- First look: The Kobo eReader Touch Edition
- Amazon: E-books now outsell print books
- Creating an e-book: Tips on formatting and converting your document
- Kindle for the Web demos at Chrome event
- Update: Amazon to demo Kindle for the Web on Tuesday
Read more about Mobile/Wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Three Best Practices to Help Government Agencies Overcome BYOD Challenges This paper highlightschallenges facing government IT in a BYOD environment and discusses strategies for network preparation, ongoing support, and securing information to enable...
- 3 Steps to Content Sharing and Collaboration ft. Forrester Research Consumer sync and share tools help people access and send personal files, but smart IT leaders know that businesses require more than just...
- Empowering Your Mobile Workers A modern mobile IT strategy is no longer an option, it is an absolute necessity. Here's how some of the nation's most progressive...
- Omnichannel: From Buzzword to Strategy Customers demand a seamless experience across channels, especially mobile. Read this whitepaper for a research-based framework for using omnichannel for higher customer engagement.
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts
As emerging technologies evolve they often find an initial niche in highly specialized scenarios, or in specific industry verticals, before expanding to wider areas of applicability. Within these initial niches, the early adopters can be anything from digital enthusiasts to fashionistas, or they can be folks simply using the technology because it serves a specific need extremely well. (free registration required) more