Sony Reader Touch Review

This Sony Reader Touch Review is based on three and a half weeks of use. There are a few sony reader touch reviews at Amazon where you can buy the Sony Reader Touch Edition for $299.

There’s also a Kindle 2 Review in case you’re considering the kindle.

Sony Reader Touch Review – the indispensable eReader functions

On the two indispensable eReader functions i.e.

  1. Being able to get Books.
  2. Being able to read Books.

 The Sony Reader Touch Edition does a decent job –

Getting Books on the Sony Reader Touch

The Reader Touch doesn’t have wireless or a wireless store (The Sony Daily Edition will) and that makes getting books a bit inconvenient.

Here’s how it works -

  1. You install a software called Sony eBook Library.
  2. You start this program and register for an account with Sony.
  3. You authorize your PC and your Sony Reader Touch (a simple process).
  4. You can also save your credit card information for 1 click buying (although you have to login every time).
  5. Now you can run eBook Library, go to the eBook Store section, and browse and buy books.
  6. After buying a book, it’s downloaded and you can transfer it to your Sony Reader.

Once you get the hang of it, you can get this done quickly. However, there is no ever present store, you have to buy via your PC, and it does take a few steps.

The range of books for new books is on the low side i.e. around 100K books, and Sony supplements that with one million free books from Google Books.

An overall 7 out of 10 stars.

Reading Books on the Sony Reader Touch

  1. The screen of the Sony Reader is good in normal lighting conditions.
  2. The touch layer causes the screen to be reflective and takes away from reading when there are bright lights.
  3. The touch screen is good although its utility is reduced by the fact that a lot of actions are multi-step actions.
  4. The placement of the page turn buttons is poor and the touch page turn action is needlessly complicated.
  5. It’s a very compact and light eReader and makes reading easy on the hands.

 An overall 8 out of 10 stars.

Sony Reader Touch Review – the hugely important eReader functions

Screen Quality and Size

The Sony Reader Touch has a 6″ eInk screen with 8 levels of grayscale and 800 by 600 pixels resolution. Here’s a video –

The Touch layer takes away from reading when there are bright lights.

Sony Reader Touch gets 7.5 out of 10 stars on Screen Quality.

Sony Reader Touch Review – Ease of Use

The addition of the Touch Screen, the small size, the light weight, and the overall usability add up to a good user experience.

Sony could have hit it out of the ball park if they had placed the page turn buttons better and put more thought into the highlighting etc. However, the Sony Reader Touch still does well. 

The Touch lets you -

  1. Turn pages with a swipe gesture. 
  2. Use the on-screen menus and on-screen keyboard easily.

And is a good addition to eReaders in general. 

Solid 8 out of 10 stars.

Reference

The Touch has a dictionary feature which you can access by double tapping the word you want a definition for. There is a small definition summary initially and you can then either pull up the full dictionary definition or search for that word in the book or highlight it.

The lack of free Internet access limits the amount of reference possible.

Overall 5 out of 10 stars.

Search

The search feature is rather good -

  1. We just discussed the tap on word twice and then search for it option above. 
  2. You can also select ‘Search’ from the options menu to bring up an on-screen keyboard. 
  3. The search results highlight the word on the page, and you can circle through wherever the word is found. While this is in some cases not very convenient (if a word occurs 50 times) it works exceedingly well to find exactly what you are looking for when the search phrase isn’t very common.

Overall, 8 out of 10 stars.

Portability

The Sony Reader does exceptionally well on portability -

  1. Its really small as the touch screen eliminates the need for a keyboard. It measures just 6.9 x 4.8 x .4 inches. 
  2. It’s very light at 10.1 oz.
  3. It has a pretty long battery life thanks to the eInk screen.
  4. It has approximately 380 MB memory on-board that can hold a lot of books.
  5. You can expand the memory using the Sony Memory Stick DUO and SD Card slots. 

10 out of 10 stars.

Changeable Font Sizes

The Reader Touch has 5 Font sizes – small, medium, large, extra large, and extra, extra large. It’s also useful that page numbers work with all font sizes (total number of pages changes though).

The really neat addition is a ‘Zoom In’ feature that lets you zoom to whatever font size you like. The downside is that the ‘Zoom In’ feature is on a per page basis.

Overall 8 out of 10 stars.

Sony Reader Touch Review – Annotations

In the ‘Notes and Annotations’ mode –  

  1. You can add a bookmark. 
  2. Add a handwritten note. 
  3. Add a highlight.
  4. Turn pages.  

There are two downsides -

  1. There is a separate ‘Notes’ mode with less real estate for the book pages.
  2. In ‘Notes’ mode you have to flip between different actions i.e. at any given time you can only be doing one of – highlighting, notes, turning pages, etc.

Overall 7 out of 10 stars. This could have been a 10 with more thinking and better design.

AudioBooks

Sony Reader Touch has a decent Audio feature that plays mp3 songs and lets you -

  1. Move to anywhere in the mp3.
  2. See the cover image.
  3. Turn on repeat on 1 or more songs.
  4. Choose to shuffle songs.

The downsides are -

  1. Audible doesn’t list Sony Readers as compatible devices which means audible audiobooks are out.
  2. There are no speakers so you have to use headphones or speakers to listen to audiobooks.

Overall 6 out of 10 stars.

Sony eBook Store Usability

The Sony eBook Store is interesting. There are some positives -

  1. It has a decent design.
  2. There are a ton of ways to navigate through it i.e. categories, price, bestsellers, new arrivals.
  3. It’s quick.  

And some negatives -

  1. Very few customer reviews.
  2. Not that much book information.
  3. You can’t have multiple tabs open.
  4. You can’t access it via the Sony Touch itself.

Overall 7 out of 10 stars.

Language Support

The Sony Reader Touch comes with an in-built Font Fusion Engine from BitStream that supports a lot of languages including English, French, English based languages, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Japanese. Do check with Sony in your country as languages are not listed on the product page.

Overall, 8 out of 10 stars.  

Time and Date

As far as my understanding goes the only way to access Date and Time is in the Settings Menu. On the plus side you can actually change it yourself and choose a variety of formats.

Sony Reader Touch Review – One Handed Use

It’s just not very easy to pull off one handed user of the Sony Reader Touch Edition. The placement of the buttons makes it hard. Plus, the way taking notes works, its pretty much impossible to do one handed notes, highlights, etc.

Overall, 5 out of 10 stars.

Content Rights and Content Portability

The Sony Reader Touch supports both PDF and EPub and thus allows a lot of freedom.

Do keep in mind that any new books you buy from Sony have DRM and are not really ‘open’.

Sony gets 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Book Organization (Folders)

Sony has a folders type feature called Collections -

  1. You have to use the eBook Library software to create collections. 
  2. You can put one book into multiple collections.
  3. The collections you create show up on your Sony Reader as pseudo Folders.

It’s a useful feature although its limited by the inability to do the ‘collecting’ on the Reader itself.

7 out of 10 stars.

Sony Reader Touch Review – the nice to have eReader features

Looks

Here’s a look at the Sony Reader Touch’s looks and some basic features –

It really is a good looking device and the choice of colors means you can choose your favorite out of red, black and silver.

8 out of 10 stars.

Drawings and Memos

Sony Touch has two interesting features that can be used to keep personal notes -

  1. There is a Drawings feature that lets you scribble freehand notes and drawings and save them. 
  2. There is a Memo Feature where you can add notes, reminders, etc.

These features work well and it’s a good add-on feature.

Overall, 8 out of 10 stars.

Extensions and Utilities

There are no extensions such as a calendar or address book.

0 out of 10 stars.

Background Music

The background music feature has a lot of options and the ability to loop songs and shuffle them.

The lack of speakers means you must have headphones which takes away from the feature a bit.

Overall, 7 of 10 stars.  

Device Lock, Lost and Found Options

While there are no lost and found options, there is a useful Device Lock that password protects your Sony Reader.

5 out of 10 stars.

Sony Touch Review – Personalization

You can get a utility (free, $5 donation requested) online that lets you change a lot of the options on the Sony Reader 505 and this utility will almost certainly be ported for the Touch soon.

You do have skins, cases, sleeves, etc. available from third parties.

7 out of 10 stars.

Sony Reader Touch Review – Overall 7.75 stars rating

The Sony Reader Touch has the potential to be a great eReader. It does decently on reading and amount of content and very well on some other areas i.e. looks, touch, portability, ePub and PDF support.

It just seems that Sony haven’t done the 7th, 8th, 9th iterations of design and testing that would have helped correct things like the terrible placement of the page turn buttons and the overly confusing, multi-step highlighting and annotations.

There’s a big opportunity for Sony to make its core functions excellent and turn the Sony Reader Touch into a great eReader - hopefully they do that in the next generation Reader Touch.

Do look at the Kindle 2 Review to see which eReader rates better based on the criteria important to you. Personally, reading on the Kindle is more enjoyable for me – Sony just make the basic things like getting a book and turning pages too difficult.

Based on my experience, and the ‘What makes an eReader good for reading’ criteria, this Sony Reader Touch Edition Review gives the Touch a 7.75 stars rating - Sony are close to the magic formula but haven’t hit it.

2 Responses

  1. [...] iReaderReview – Reader Touch gets 7.75 out of 10.  Doesn’t quite beat the Kindle but Sony is getting really close. [...]

  2. RE: “And some negatives -

    1. Very few customer reviews….”

    my personal experience regarding sony’s lack of customer reviews…sony does not publish anything less than a “4-star” review and censors customer reviews which they feel are “spiteful” or “violations” of their guidelines which they state “ensure(s) the best customer experience”…neither amazon and B&N censor or violate one’s freedom of speech

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