You’ve seen the Kindle 3 but what about the Sony 350?
Well, it’s time for some Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 photos courtesy the fact that Sony 350 started shipping yesterday in Canada. The photos are after the jump (please see the later part of this post).
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350
There are a few things that jump at you right off the bat –
- Sony 350 manages to add touch without interfering with the eInk screen at all. It does this by using infra-red sensors which are all around the edges of the screen. You’re not touching anything – just break the plane of the Infra Red beams and that’s interpreted as touch. It’s actually possible to ‘touch’ an on-screen button without touching the screen at all.
- The Kindle 3, Sony 350 screens are almost identical – with different font settings one seems better than the other and then they seem the same. Both are infinitely better than the Sony 600 screen.
- The Kindle has a whiter background and it especially stands out in sunlight. Not sure how much of an impact the graphite casing has.
- Sony 350 is ridiculously light and small. It’s so light you feel strange because it feels too light for its size. See the comparison shots below for the size comparison. It’s so small it even fits in my jeans though the screen might be too delicate to carry in a jeans or pant pocket.
- The lack of wireless in the Sony 350 is a pain. No instant downloads and no browser.
- Sony 350 spoils the beautiful aluminium case by adding a strange white strip along the edges and by using a plasticky stylus that looks super-cheap. Actually, Sony 350 looks gorgeous despite the white plastic strip and stylus.
- Sony still has its annoying ‘two steps to do anything’ UI. You have to go into a special mode to add notes and highlights. Here’s how you start a note – Press Options, Choose Notes, Choose Create, Click on the special ‘Notes’ button at the top, and then add a Note. That’s 5 separate steps. You can’t write notes and use the touchscreen to turn pages at the same time – There are separate modes for each. The physical page turn buttons still work so perhaps it’s not that bad.
Sony 350 is really good but it can’t beat the Kindle 3.
It almost makes you feel like crying because all Sony had to do was add wireless and a few features and it would have become the joint best eReader or perhaps even beaten Kindle 3. That in turn would have forced Kindle and Nook to evolve quickly and drastically.
Yet, Sony doesn’t think adding wireless is worth it.
How can Sony still not get it?
There are only two reasons Sony 350 doesn’t win – its relatively high price and its lack of wireless. If it had both it would equal Kindle 3.
Will read a book on the Sony 350 and get back to you about how the reading experience on the Sony 350 compares with the Kindle 3 reading experience.
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 – Main Areas Kindle 3 outshines Sony 350
The Kindle 3 is still the better eReader in my opinion. Here are its advantages –
- Much better value for money. For $10 more you get WiFi and 3G and free Internet.
- Convenience of browsing the Kindle store and buying books from Kindle 3 itself. Books in 60 seconds.
- Text to Speech feature. Some Publishers disable this for their books.
- Much better store with more new books and cheaper prices (except for Agency Model books which are 45% or so of new books).
- Much better infrastructure and apps for more platforms. Synchronize your place in a book and your notes and highlights across your phone, PC, and Kindle.
- Kindle 3 has a physical keyboard which is a factor if you prefer having a physical keyboard. There are no number keys so it’s not a huge factor.
- Stereo speakers and music player though with bare minimum functionality.
- WiFi and 3G. For US customers 3G store browsing and 3G Internet browsing is free and free in 100+ countries.
- A pretty solid Browser that’s great for reading blogs and sites (most sites work) and for checking email (all 3 main email providers work – you might have to use the mobile version of GMail).
- Larger screen – Kindle 3 has a 6″ screen while Sony 350 has a 5″ screen.
Kindle 3 also has two promising future developments in store that Sony 350 will probably not be able to match –
- A microphone that might be enabled later on and there might be cool features added.
- Kindle Apps – there might be a Kindle App Store by end of the year. It could end up becoming very significant if it takes off.
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 – Main Areas Sony 350 outshines Kindle 3
Thankfully, the screen is no longer one of them.
Here are Sony 350’s strengths –
- It’s super pretty – especially the back.
- Touch is pretty cool.
- It’s so light and compact it’s amazing.
- It comes in at $10 cheaper at $179. Please note that it isn’t better value for money – just cheaper.
- ePub Support.
- Better PDF Support – Sony 350 supports PDF reflow but it breaks down often when there are tables and/or images. Highlights always work while on Kindle 3 highlighting often doesn’t work.
- Support for Library Books.
- There’s an option to ‘adjust view’ that lets you try out various screen contrast options like saturated and detailed. You can make your own ‘view’.
- There is a ‘word log’ for every book which keeps a record of words you looked up. A really cool feature.
- Small Advantages – The main screen and settings pages are slightly better. There’s an option to turn off the screensaver.
- Will confirm this in a bit but think Sony 350 allows custom screensavers.
Overall, the Sony 350 does have a lot of advantages – some are major ones (ePub, touch, compactness and lightness) and some are minor ones. However, the areas in which it loses to Kindle 3 are pretty major (value for money, 3G+WiFi, Free Internet, Book range and prices, Infrastructure).
Kindle 3 manages to win the Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 contest – However, the gap is far less than the gap between Kindle 3 and Sony 600.
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 Photos …
After the jump we have lots of Sony 350 vs Kindle 3 photos.
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 Photos – Starting Off
Let’s start with the box the Sony 350 came in –
It’s beautiful. Since it’s so compact it can probably be used as a ‘fits in my pocket’ eReader. Though you would have to be a bit careful.
Let’s take a quick look at the Kindle 3 to see what we’ll be comparing Sony 350 against –
The background looks whiter but the Sony seems to have sharper/more stylized fonts.
Well, it’s time to get started.
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 – The Main Course
Here’s our first Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 photo –
Note that in the photos we will keep switching the positions of the two eReaders to account for any possible advantage due to where/how they are placed.
Here’s an up-close comparison of medium/large font sizes (around 4 or 5 for Kindle and ‘L’ for Sony 350) –
Here’s a comparison showing the largest font size –
Kindle 3 has a considerably larger largest font size.
Here’s one showing the smallest font size –
Sony has an absolutely tiny smallest font size.
Finally, a comparison showing a close-up of the smallest font size –
Next, let’s look at a few other Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 aspects.
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 – Images
Both are great at showing images. This section is pretty hit and miss because image quality varies a lot.
First, two book covers –
The quality of the covers was different so it’s a bit unfair.
Next, we have an image in the Kindle 3 browser versus a relatively low quality book cover on Sony Reader 350 –
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 – Size
Looking at them side by side –
The Kindle 3 gets a bit cut-off at the top but hopefully the image still gives you a good idea of the sizes.
Back view of the Kindle 3 and Sony 350 –
Next, the Sony 350 on top of the Kindle 3 –
Here’s another one to see the difference –
It’s just the camera distance that makes it seem Sony 350 is extending far beyond Kindle 3’s edges – they were quite closely aligned.
Kindle 3 is compact while Sony 350 is super compact. Sony 350 is also so light it feels unreal.
Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 vs Sony 600 – What a long way Sony has come
The following three images convey quite well how much better Sony 350’s screen is when contrasted with the Sony 600.
Next, we look at some images (book covers) on each –
Finally, an image with a mix of sunlight and shadows (perhaps a bit unfair to the Sony 600) –
Kindle 3 does have an impressive white background and is perhaps a little better than Sony 350 – However, the difference isn’t much.
The screen contrast improvement in the new Sony 350 shows how critical a mistake Sony made by using a touch layer in the 600. It probably lost the eReader Wars because of that and because it didn’t add wireless support (which it still refuses to add).
Anyways, the Kindle 3 at $189 and the Sony 350 at $179 are both very good eReaders. Here are my recommendations –
- Get the Sony 350 if you prefer – support for library books, a very pretty eReader, super compact size, very light weight, support for ePub, touch screen, custom screensavers.
- Get the Kindle 3 or Kindle WiFi if you prefer – great value for money, 6″ screen, ease of use, better PDF support, better ebook store, the promise of microphone based features and kindle apps, text to speech, the browser and free Internet.
Sony comes very, very close and if not for its stubborn refusal to add wireless support and compete on price it would have had the better eReader. As it stands, the Kindle 3 is a clear winner unless you need a touch screen or ePub support or must have an eReader that fits in your pant pocket.