Sony Reader eReader Review
Design - Weight and Dimensions
Dimensions: 7.87 in x 5.04 in x 0.38 in
Weight: 9.6 ounces
Color: Available in silver
Sony has released a bunch of eReaders over the last couple of years, so we had a bit of trouble choosing what device to review, but as the Sony Pocket Reader has been discontinued and the Sony PRS-650 is essentially just a cheaper version of the Sony PRS-950, we chose to go with the latter. This device comes out to be just a bit longer than the traditional eReader. This may be because Sony has opted for a touchscreen input over a physical input, but the devices' longer dimensions make it a bit easier to hold at the bottom while reading at the top. It's available in a sleek silver color, and weighs a mere 9.6 ounces -- highly portable and comfortable to hold for prolonged periods of time.
Display - Resolution and Reflectiveness
Display Type: 7 inch monochrome eInk display
Color Depth: 4-bit monochrome with 16 gray levels
Despite the rising number of color eReader devices, Sony has chosen to give its Sony Reader a monochrome eInk screen. It's a more traditional choice of screen, and it's infinitely more readable than a tablet-like, full-color screen. Its 1024x600 resolution means its display is just as wide as those on competing 7-inch devices, but actually has more readable lines of text than the average eReader. This means less page turning, and that's always a good thing when using one of these electronic reading devices.
User-friendliness and Interface - Touchscreen vs Keyboard
Every company has a decision to make when it produces an eReader: include a traditional, physical keyboard, or opt for a modern touchscreen display. Sony has gone with the latter, opting for on-screen navigational controls that are context-sensitive and activated by a user's touch. That's fine for users who are used to touch-based smartphones and tablet devices, but new users will find the transition difficult to make. It can be made, however, and users may come to prefer context-sensitive controls on screen rather than fixed, physical keyboard controls over time.
Memory - Internal and External Storage
Flash Memory: 2GB internal memory
Flash Cards: Expandable to 32GB using SD removable media
Sony's eReader is one of an increasing number that prefers to ship with less included storage and give users an upgrade path via removable SSD cards. This allows it to sell the device at a lower price point than many competing devices, while giving consumers the option to upgrade on their own and extend the usable life of their device with flash storage. Even the inclusion of 2 gigabytes is generous in comparison, as Amazon's Kindle devices ship with only 4 gigabytes and offer no expansion options at all.
Formats - Doc, PDF, ePub and Third-party DRMs
Supported Text Formats: EPUB, PDF, TXT, BBeW
Supported Image Formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
The Sony Reader supports most major textual formats, including the ubiquitous PDF format found in many independent bookstores. However, it doesn't support the popular DOC format found in Microsoft Office, and this may be an issue for customers who need to read documents on the go and would prefer not to carry a laptop along with them. This eReader, like many others, supports all major image formats and will display them in monochrome on its eInk screen.
Web-browsing and Applications
Sony's Reader device comes with support for the company's own bookstore, which boasts 20,000 titles available for download. In addition, it supports user-downloaded books from other stores that can be transferred via USB, SD card media, or downloaded via either WiFI or 3G connectivity. It comes with MP3 and AAC file support in its music player application, and the image viewer supports most major file formats for full-screen image viewing. Perhaps the killer feature here is the device's support for 3G wireless connectivity, which was once almost exclusively Amazon's territory with its Kindle line of eReaders.
Despite its compact size, the Sony ebook reader supports up to 12,000 page turns with its included battery. That's more than the much larger Amazon Kindle DX, and more than any other 7-inch eReader currently available. This is perhaps one of the bigger selling points of Sony's eReader.
The Sony Reader is available through the electronics manufacturer's website or third-party retailer and generally sells for $274.99.
Additional Features and Accessories
As with most eReaders, the Sony eReader comes with image viewing and audio playback, as well as an included 3.5mm headphone jack for privacy purposes. It doesn't include very many "above and beyond" features, but it does all of the basic things very well.
The Bottom Line
The Sony Reader is a solid entrant in the eReader space, with a battery that puts most of its competitors to shame. Indeed, this particular eReader lasts almost twice as long as most competing models. Combined with its longer screen, which allows for more lines of text per page, and its hard-to-find 3G connectivity, the Sony Reader is competitive and will be highly desirable to those looking for an expandable and affordable device. However decent a device this is, it is still an early model and will probably be discontinued just as the Sony Pocket Reader Edition.