Is Touch Worth It? Sony Vs Kindle

This is a really difficult question and this post doesn’t really answer it. There’s a ton of evidence though and you can make up your own mind.

First, the video of Sony’s implementation of the touch feature –

Reasons Touch is a good feature

The areas where the Sony Touch’s touch feature really shines -

  1. Hitting a spot or an item is quicker. You don’t have to move the cursor to a spot or an item.
  2. Home Page, Book List Pages and Menus are easier to use.  
  3. You can add freehand notes and scribbles in the margins and in the book itself (although can’t seem to figure out how to enter longer notes).
  4. There’s a notes view where you can add notes, highlight text, erase notes and highlights, set bookmarks and look at all the existing notes. 
  5. In Notes mode highlighting is really easy.
  6. The Freehand drawing (in the Handwriting app) is useful as it lets you do freehand scribbling, notes and drawings.   
  7. On screen keyboard is easy to use (in the Memo app).

Reasons Touch is a bad feature.

The Touch feature has some disadvantages too -

  1. The biggest by far is loss of readability. The touch layer is reflective and reduces readability and its worse when there are bright lights.
  2. Touching the screen leads to finger prints and smudges.
  3. Writing on the touchscreen is awkward (especially as you can’t rest your hand on it).  
  4. You need to use the stylus a lot of the time so its two handed reading.
  5. eInk means that you have to move the stylus a bit slower.

Disadvantages due to Sony’s implementation of touch –  

  1. The bad placement of the page turn buttons and the drag gesture (instead of a tap page turn) makes page turning awkward. 
  2. No handwriting recognition.
  3. The Notes Mode eats up a lot of screen real estate.
  4. There aren’t enough shortcuts. There are two-step actions instead of shortcuts or one step actions.

An example of the last is that to highlight you have to do Options > Notes > Select Highlight Button > Do the Actual Highlight.  

Even if you read in Notes Mode it’s Choose Highlight Button > Do Highlight.

Closing Thoughts

The current state of eInk technology causes a few of the main disadvantages i.e. loss of readability and having to wait a tiny bit to see the result of your ‘touches’.

The loss in readability is not trivial and a big downside.

Sony’s implementation of Touch adds a lot of disadvantages including the rather inelegant way page turns are handled. 

Which leads us to a rather interesting question –   

Would touch be a good feature for Kindle 3? Well,

  1. Amazon would have to work in a better implementation of Touch.
  2. We would need eInk advances so that the effect of a touch layer on readability was minimal.

That’s two big IFs. It’s hard to say whether the current benefits of touch outweight the downside.

Kindle 3 is unlikely to add touch, unless of course there is a big advance in eInk technology.

One Response

  1. I think the touch is important for the kindle 3 for 1 important reason you did not mention. It would attract more women. Currently men are the primary users of the kindle and I believe that the kindle is viewed as a sophisticated remote control not too different from a tv remote. Women do not like tv remotes.

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