Kindle vs Sony Review – Kindle vs Sony 350

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 – 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. The Kindle has a whiter background and it especially stands out in sunlight. Not sure how much of an impact the graphite casing has.  
  4. 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.
  5. The lack of wireless in the Sony 350 is a pain. No instant downloads and no browser. 
  6. 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.
  7. 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 – 

  1. Much better value for money. For $10 more you get WiFi and 3G and free Internet.
  2. Convenience of browsing the Kindle store and buying books from Kindle 3 itself. Books in 60 seconds.
  3. Text to Speech feature. Some Publishers disable this for their books.
  4. Much better store with more new books and cheaper prices (except for Agency Model books which are 45% or so of new books).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Stereo speakers and music player though with bare minimum functionality.
  8. WiFi and 3G. For US customers 3G store browsing and 3G Internet browsing is free and free in 100+ countries.
  9. 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).
  10. 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 –   

  1. A microphone that might be enabled later on and there might be cool features added. 
  2. 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 – 

  1. It’s super pretty – especially the back.
  2. Touch is pretty cool.
  3. It’s so light and compact it’s amazing.
  4. It comes in at $10 cheaper at $179. Please note that it isn’t better value for money – just cheaper.
  5. ePub Support.
  6. 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.
  7. Support for Library Books.
  8. 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’.
  9. There is a ‘word log’ for every book which keeps a record of words you looked up. A really cool feature.
  10. Small Advantages – The main screen and settings pages are slightly better. There’s an option to turn off the screensaver.
  11. 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 – 

The Box in which the Sony 350 shipped

Rather interesting that Sony would pick Great Expectations Sony delivered my Sony 350 6 days before the release date. Apparently, Canada gets the 350 before any other country. Let's look at what the Sony 350 looks like - Sony 350 in all its beauty

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 – 

A front shot of the Kindle 3

Kindle 3 head-on

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 – 

Comparing Kindle 3 and Sony 350 - Medium Font

Medium Font - Kindle 3 vs Sony 350

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) – 

Comparing Kindle 3 and Sony 350 up-close

A macro mode photo comparing the screens

Here’s a comparison showing the largest font size – 

comapring the largest font size on Kindle 3 and Sony 350

Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 - Largest Font Size

Kindle 3 has a considerably larger largest font size. 

Here’s one showing the smallest font size – 

Smallest Font Sizes compared on Kindle 3, Sony 350

Smallest Font Sizes on Sony 350, Kindle 3

Sony has an absolutely tiny smallest font size. 

Finally, a comparison showing a close-up of the smallest font size – 

Comparing Smallest Font Sizes Up Close

A closer look at the smallest font sizes

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 – 

Comparing how book covers look on each

Contrasting Book Covers - quality was different so a bit unfair

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 Browser Webpage vs Sony 350 Book Cover

Another unfair comparison of images

Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 – Size 

Looking at them side by side – 

Relative Sizes of the Kindle 3 and Sony 350

Sony 350 is impressively small

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 – 

Comparing the backs of the Kindle 3 and Sony Reader

The reverse of the Kindle 3 and Sony 350 - Sony 350 doesn't have speakers

Next, the Sony 350 on top of the Kindle 3 – 

Comparing the Sizes of Kindle 3 and Sony 350

Again we see how much smaller Sony 350 is

Here’s another one to see the difference – 

Comparing size of Kindle 3 and Sony 350

Sony 350 is super compact

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. 

Comparing Kindle 3, Sony 350, Sony 600

Bright Sunlight and Sony Reader Evolution

Next, we look at some images (book covers) on each – 

Comparing images on Kindle 3, Sony 600, Sony 350

Images on Kindle 3, Sony Readers

Finally, an image with a mix of sunlight and shadows (perhaps a bit unfair to the Sony 600) – 

Comparing Sony 350, Sony 600, Kindle

Another comparison shot with light and shadows

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 – 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

29 Responses

  1. [...] Why The Sony Reader Pocket Edition Just Might Save Sony Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 Photos [...]

  2. wow, i think Sony’s touch screen technology just rendered Kindle’s keyboard obsolete. i have yet to use an eReader, but i would have to guess (after pondering the photos) that a keyboard is needed, what, less than 5% of the total time the device is on?

    here’s a thought – for Kindle to inevitably add touch without compromising screen quality, i wonder if they’ll have to license Sony’s infrared technology. pretty darn clever.

  3. This is probably off topic but I have a question for fellow Kindle 3 readers. My Kindle 3 is working perfectly and I enjoy reading on it immensely. However, there is one thing that slightly annoy me. The area under in the back of the page-turning buttons on the right is a bit loose. When I press on it, it feels like pressing a button. The gap between the buttons and the back cover on the right is wider than than one on the left too. This of course doesn’t affect any function of the Kindle but is still bugging me. Does anyone has a problem like that and does this warrant a replacement? Any feedback is appreciated !

  4. one big issue i have with non-apple companies attempt at touch screen, is that they’re not as sensitive as the apple one

    • You’ll be pleasantly surprised by Sony’s! It’s as sensitive and nice as you could want. I have an iPhone, so I know what you’re saying.

      Sony’s PRS-350 is the most ideal reader I’ve used. It is very nice and natural turning pages with a subtle gesture of your finger on the screen (which does not leave fingerprints, I should mention).

      Also, it fits in the hand so nicely, and weighs only about 60% of the K3, and in fact this is also a reason why it’s such a pleasure to use. Yes, the screen is 5″, but I think the 5 Oz weight, easy fit in the hand, and natural and therefore flexible page turning method (and there are physical buttons too, if you must have them) make for a killer device. Do not underestimate it! READING is the primary focus of these devices, not browsing the internet or even buying books. The act of reading and how it achieves this is by far the most important thing, and that’s why I am so glad I chose the Sony over the K3 (although I very nearly did buy the K3 on price.). Sony speaks volumes (pardon the pun): People WILL buy this for quality, not price. It’s also built very solidly, unlike the Kindle 3 (from what I’ve been reading).

  5. hey, thanks for the review.

    what about the sony 650 reader? any good?

    • That doesn’t come out till next week. Will add a comparison here when it’s out.

    • I can say with virtual certainty that it’s just as good (and identical in nearly every way) to the PRS-350, except of course it’s 6″, not 5″, physically larger as a result, and has expansion slots and audio capabilities. I had a PRS-505 for several years, and not once did I use the mp3 player. That’s how I knew for a fact that I had no use for one on my new Reader. I have my iPhone for that purpose and it’s much better at it anyhow. Besides, it leaves more room for BOOKS, if you don’t load it up with songs.

      I think the new Pearl screen, which is fantastic, and a vast improvement over the previous e-ink screens, goes a long way towards making a 5″ screen seem fine, coming from a 6″ one on my PRS-505.

  6. How do we get to have the book cover show on the Kindle 3, can we use it instead of the random screen saver picture? I guess there’s still a lot for me to explore on my Kindle :-)

    • There’s no way to do that. Amazon doesn’t have support for custom screensavers and you can’t show the book cover or your own photos as screensavers.

  7. This is an unfair comparison not only because of the size differential. Compare the Sony eReader PRS 950 to the Kindle please. They’re the ones that both have wireless and 3G.

  8. > if not for its stubborn refusal to add wireless support
    >and compete on price it would have had the better >eReader.

    Sony eReader is open and that means Sony can’t rely on book sales to generate profit.
    It’s not they won’t compete on price, it’s simply they can’t.

    Providing wireless connection costs money and not everyone needs wireless, Sony’s decision to provide a off grid device seems reasonable?

    Sony 350, in my opinion, beats kindle3 as a dedicated eReader, mostly for its lightness. As a multimedia device, kindle3 still beats Sony 350 easy though.

  9. How is highlighting on the Sony? I know the Kindle can highlight passages, has an easy way to view those highlights, as well as the ability to view selected sections of text online.

    How do notes show up? With the Kindle, they are in the My Clippings file, can be found directly within the ebook, as well as saved for online viewing later.

    Does the Sony have a built in dictionary? With the Kindle, place your cursor in front of a word and the definition automatically shows up.

    Does the Sony have a search feature? With the Kindle, you can search text within one book, or across the entire library. Results are shown as a list, with excerpts shown. You can easily search through the results without having to advance through the actual text.

    • Sony does have a built-in dictionary. Double-click on a word and the meaning shows up.
      It has a very good search feature. However, if you flip through the results you are taken to that page and you have to go back to where you started yourself.
      Couldn’t find a ‘search all books’ option but let me check more.

      There is a Notes Mode in which you have buttons to highlight, add notes, or erase notes or highlights. There is also a ‘Notes’ button that shows you a list of your notes. Also a button to add bookmarks.
      It’s a bit of a pain to switch between the different modes.

      Couldn’t find how to look at notes you’ve made via PC but again – let me check. I heard someone from Sony say in a video that there’s a tiff file or rtf file that keeps notes.
      However, I can only see a .annot file.

      • Sony has several dictionaries in several languages, too.

        You can draw anything with Notes. There are demos on the Sony that show this, and I’ve seen YouTube videos illustrating this feature. It is very accurate too (the digitizer).

  10. I have a kindle 3, and while I love it, the pdf support on the Sony’s is still better simply because Amazon has not added PDF reflow. Test it for yourself.

    • Thanks for your anonymous comment. Am writing another post covering just that. Sony 350 does have better PDF support and this post has been updated. Reflow often doesn’t work when there are tables and images. However, at least Sony tried. Sony 350’s highlighting always works while Kindle 3’s highlighting sometimes breaks down.

      • Sony has a neat feature that I played with tonight. You can zoom in on photos quite deeply, and you can pan around the photos with your finger relatively smoothly (it is e-Ink, so it’s not instantaneous, but it’s quite acceptable). You can double-tap to zoom+center as well.

        Don’t know if the Kindle3 has such a functionality (via the keyboard, of course).

        Photos render very well in 16-levels of greyscale. I was impressed.

  11. [...] Posts Free Kindle Books, Amazon Kindle Book, Amazon.com BooksKindle 3 vs Sony 350 Photos50 Free Books in the Kindle StoreKindle PDF conversion – View PDF on KindleKindle vs Nook [...]

  12. No one ever mentions that weird font on the Kindle. I just can’t stand it. So fekkin hard to read!

    I’ll take ANY ereader with a standard font over a kindle just because of Amazon’s alien font.

  13. [...] my conclusion from my Kindle 3 vs Sony 350 post – Sony comes very, very close and if not for its stubborn refusal to add wireless support and [...]

  14. thank you very much to all!!
    paolo

  15. Can anyone tell me the best way to clean a Kindle 3 screen? It’s seems to attract smears much more so than any other device I own.

    Thanks ever so much

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