Kindle Vs Sony Reader Pocket Edition

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Pocket Edition becomes rather interesting thanks to the Pocket Edition’s excellent screen contrast, lower size and lower price.

Should the Kindle 2 be worried about the $199 Pocket Edition? Let’s find out.

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Pocket Edition Video

Sony has done well to hit a $199 price point and the Pocket Edition looks good –

Have to admit that the contrast on the Pocket Edition blew me away.  

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Pocket Edition – Pocket’s Advantages.

  1. $60 cheaper than Kindle 2. 
  2. Much more portable and much smaller in size.
  3. Excellent Contrast –  Sony have somehow managed to make the background impressively white. There is a difference in normal lighting. However, in bright sunlight the difference is huge. Do note that the ‘Wow’ and other special effects are courtesy a Sony salesgirl – 
  4. Like the buttons on the right side that can be used to jump to pages, and perhaps for other things. 
  5. ePub Support.

The size and portability of the Sony Pocket Edition combines well with its $199 price to create an entry-level eReader that will appeal to a lot of people who can’t afford a $259 Kindle 2.

Here’s a rather haphazard video contrasting size –

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Pocket Edition – Kindle’s Advantages.

Once again, WhisperNet and the Kindle Store ride in to the rescue -

  1. 60 second book downloads. 
  2. Better range of books and cheaper prices. 
  3. Free Internet Access.
  4. Whispernet (wireless downloads for books) works in 81 countries. These countries get Free Wikipedia too and Amazon have said they’ll eventually get Free Internet.
  5. A larger 6″ screen – 5″ is too small.
  6. Read To Me is a great feature to have, although some authors turn it off.
  7. Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone. Kindle for Mac is slated to arrive in a few months.
  8. Syncing across different devices thanks to WhisperSync.

As in our previous comparison, the Kindle as a service totally overcomes the limitations of Kindle the device.

Thoughts on Kindle Vs Sony Reader Pocket Edition

The Kindle 2 and the Sony Reader Pocket Edition really are different devices.

The Pocket should come in at $150 given its total lack of wireless connectivity, expandability, etc. and at that price it would be a huge hit.

At $200, Sony 300 can’t compare with the features of the Kindle 2, which is definitely worth the extra $60. Just the free Internet, free wikipedia, and larger size are worth more than that.

Conclusion – Kindle 2 wins, Sony Pocket Edition sets a new bar for Screen Contrast and Pricing

The Kindle 2 wins, again relying on the wonder that is WhisperNet and its range of content.

Sony do set a new bar for pricing and screen contrast and put a ton of pressure on Amazon for Kindle 3.

Amazon really ought to figure out what deal Sony struck with the devil to get such excellent screen contrast.

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Touch Edition

Thanks to the fact that Sony hasn’t forgotten Canada exists, here’s a set of Kindle Vs Sony Reader Touch Edition videos that review the differences.

Nov 24th, 2009 Update: The Kindle 2 has now added PDF support, Kindle for PC, and is priced lower at $259.

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Touch Edition 

Here’s the first video contrasting the Kindle 2 with the Sony Reader 600 -

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Touch Edition – Touch Advantages

Sony Reader Touch Edition has some clear advantages over the Kindle 2  -

  1. More portable thanks to the smaller size.  
  2. Touch is a very good feature.
  3. Being able to draw using touch is very impressive – 
  4. ePub support.
  5. Smaller Size.
  6. Looks better and available in a variety of colors – Red, Black, and Silver.  

The touch does affect the readability of the Sony Reader Touch Edition and readability is especially bad when there are bright lights.

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Touch Edition – Kindle Advantages

Kindle’s advantages over the Sony Reader Touch Edition -

  1. $40 cheaper.
  2. WhisperNet and 60 second book downloads. 
  3. Free Internet Access. To be expanded to all WhisperNet countries in the future.
  4. Free Wikipedia. Kindle Whispernet works in 81 countries. As does Free Wikipedia.
  5. Better Screen Contrast. Here’s a video – 
  6. Better selection of books.
  7. Better placement of page turn buttons. Allows for one handed reading which is difficult/finger-tiring on the Sony Reader Touch Edition.

Note that if you prefer a physical keyboard, Kindle has one.

Thoughts on Kindle Vs Sony Reader Touch

Kindle’s position as the best available eReader was in danger – the recent additions have again made it a better choice than the Sony Reader Touch Edition.

  1. If the Sony Reader Touch Edition had wireless and free Internet access, at the same price point, it would perhaps beat the Kindle.
  2. It’s the better service i.e. Whispernet, range of Books, $9.99 price, and customer service that is helping the Kindle.
  3. By adding PDF support the Kindle has removed a significant negative.
  4. When it comes to the device itself, screen contrast is the only significant advantage Kindle has.
  5. Sony Touch Edition’s features, especially touch navigation and freehand drawing, are extremely impressive. 

Amazon have significantly upped the value proposition of the Kindle in the last month (November 2009).

Conclusion – Kindle 2 wins

The Kindle 2 is the better overall choice thanks to WhisperNet, Free Internet, wider range of books, cheaper ebook prices, and other factors like Read To Me.

Sony Reader Touch may very well be the better ‘ereader’ – However, its lack of wireless downloads and limited range of ebooks kill it.

While the Sony Reader Touch is a bit of a danger to the Kindle, the Kindle, thanks to the latest feature additions, is better overall.

Basically, Amazon have added a lot of features and made the Kindle 2 a more compelling choice.

Kindle Vs Sony Reader Touch Edition tilts in favor of the Kindle 2.

Kindle 2 Vs Sony Reader Daily Edition

We’ll have to wait until December for a full Sony Reader Daily Edition review. However, Sony’s stance that ‘this is Sony’s answer to the Kindle’ means that a quick Kindle 2 Vs Sony Reader Daily Edition comparison is in order.

Kindle 2 Vs Sony Reader Daily Edition – Videos

All indications are that the 7″ Sony Reader 900 will look almost identical to the Sony Reader 600. Here’s a combination of videos –

The YouTube video has good notes on screen quality (or lack thereof). It certainly seems that the 600 suffers from glare and screen contrast issues that affected the 700. This will almost certainly carry into the 900.

Kindle 2 Vs Sony Reader 900 – Price of Device and Value for Money

The $399 price of the Sony Reader 900 kills its chances to compete with the Kindle 2.

As we look at the next two sections on Killer Features we’ll see that the killer features of each balance each other out leaving the Kindle 2 as much better value for money (relatively).

When we look at book prices, we have balancing factors i.e.

  1. Cheaper Prices in the Kindle Store, and more free book offers on new books. 
  2. Sony’s Free public domain books from Google and the Library ebooks factor (explored below).

Kindle 2 Vs Sony Reader Daily Edition – Kindle’s Killer Features

Kindle 2 has a few killer features -

WhisperNet Vs Wireless Store

Sony’s wireless solution from AT&T will only include access to the Sony store and will not have free Internet access, leaving some of Kindle’s advantage intact.

It also wouldn’t be a stretch to say that most people would prefer Sprint’s network over AT&T’s.

Kindle Store Content

The Kindle Store has much more content and at cheaper prices than the Sony. Sony has said it will announce some deals soon. However, Amazon has been the leader in adding new books and promoting the $9.99 price point and has a substantial lead.

Better Screen Contrast

As the video above demonstrates Sony hasn’t fixed the glare and contrast issues that afflicted the touch 700. After trying out the Sony Reader 900 myself (in December) will update this section.

Sony Reader Daily Edition Vs Kindle 2 – 900’s Killer Features

TouchScreen

One obvious competitive advantage the Sony Daily Edition has is the touchscreen. The addition of free hand notes makes it even more compelling.

This is a serious disadvantage that Amazon ought to address in Kindle 3. What makes it really challenging is that touch has to be added without hurting screen contrast.

Library eBooks

This feature is getting a lot of praise. While it might end up severely affecting ebook sales, its good to see Sony push the envelope on features.

If you contrast the limited range of paid new books in the Sony Store with -

  1. Presence of 500K (soon to be a million) free books from Google. 
  2. Ability to access Free Library eBooks.

You have to ask – Does Sony even care about selling content?  

It certainly looks like Sony will corner the market on people who never want to pay for an ebook. Amazon probably doesn’t mind that at all.

Sony Reader 900 Vs Kindle 2 – Portability, Screen Size and Looks

Chances are the 900 looks just like the 600 and is about the size of the Kindle -

Sony Reader 900 Vs Kindle 2 - Predicting the Design

Sony Reader 900 Vs Kindle 2 - Predicting the Design

 

  1. Battery life will not be much of a differentiating factor.
  2. The 7″ screen is somewhat better than 6″ – however, it is not a big factor.
  3. Sony clearly wins on looks, not to mention availability in various colors.
  4. Sony will actually end up being a little smaller or the same size as the Kindle 2, thanks to the lack of a keyboard.
  5. Some users will actually miss having a keyboard (even one as tiny as the Kindle 2’s).

Conclusion – Waiting to test out the Sony 900

A final verdict depends on possible improvements between now and December. It certainly seems like Sony is making a big mistake by taking on the Kindle 2 with a $399 ereader when there’s the $299 Sony 600 available..

Its particularly inelegant strategy given that price is the single biggest impediment to eReader adoption. 

Sony have played up Sony 300 Vs Kindle 2, and now are promoting Kindle 2 Vs Sony 900. It almost seems like a kung-fu movie where a succession of poorly matched fighters are followed by the real enemy Boss.

Unfortunately, the enemy Boss Sony Reader 600’s lack of wireless might kill its chances of putting up a spectacular ending.

What’s behind Sony’s all out eReader assault?

There are two rather interesting sides to Sony’s sudden influx of Sony Readers and features -

  1. What has Sony seen to suddenly get so focused on the eReader market? 
  2. What Impact will this have on the Kindle and on eReaders in general.

What does Sony know about eReaders we don’t?

Sony saw something in its Sony Reader sales and from its Kindle competitive intelligence to decide that after years of relative inactivity they would suddenly -

  1. Introduce a $199 eReader. 
  2. Introduce the arguably best touch eReader available. 
  3. Come out with a wireless feature by this Holiday Season. 
  4. Start supporting Library eBooks – a rather risky move given the possible impact on ebook sales.
  5. Introduce eBooks for PSP and PSP Go.
  6. Aim to support newspapers and magazines by end of 2009.

Obviously, Sony thinks this holiday season and 2010 will be when eReaders really take off and its preparing itself.

What is the data that Sony used to arrive at this conclusion?

Sony haven’t updated their 400K Sony Readers sold figure since end of the year. Is it because it’s really good, or really bad?

Sony saw something so compelling that not only do we get 3 new Sony Reader models, we also get ebooks added to the PSP.

What Impact will this have on the Kindle?

Sony is not only attacking Kindle on features that Kindle has never been challenged on i.e. wireless support, its also adding features that the Kindle doesn’t have -

  1. A sub $200 price point. 
  2. Touch, and pretty decent touch. 
  3. Free Library eBooks.
  4. ePub support and ‘artificial openness’ (since there’s DRM).
  5. An installed base of 50 million mobile devices (PSPs) that are wirelessly connected back to Sony.

With the December release of the Sony Reader 900 aka Daily edition it’ll be the first time Kindle’s WhisperNet will have a real rival.

By the way, the main stream blogs and news sites that have been so happy to attack the Kindle are already showing their bias – Engadget were fawning over the ‘pretty slick design’ of the 7″ Sony Reader. Just one flaw with that assessment – it’s based off of a non-working, blank screen prototype.

While some people think Kindle and Sony have 45% and 30% share of the market, in my opinion the figures point at 60%+ share for Kindle, and 30% or less share for Sony.

The new releases from Sony (especially the Sony Reader 600) put in place conditions that both Kindle and Sony can exploit -

  1. Sony could grab a larger share of the market – perhaps hit 40%.  Its retail locations certainly hint at the possibility.
  2. If Amazon uses knowledge of Sony’s offerings to release a much improved Kindle 3, then it could totally clean up this holiday season.

There’s no question that without a Kindle 3 Amazon will lose share in the eReader market this holiday season.

What will be Amazon’s answer?

Kindle Vs Sony Reader 300 – Sony’s Misdirection

Adage wrote a rather misleading article on Kindle Vs Sony Reader 300. This is just the latest in Sony’s rather strange attempts to compare the $299 Kindle 2 with its ill-suited $199 Pocket Edition.  

Kindle Vs Sony Reader 300 is a ridiculous comparison

Kindle Vs Sony Reader 300 is a ridiculous comparison

Here are the reasons that the Sony Reader 300 is no match for the Kindle 2 -

  1. Kindle 2 has free Internet.
  2. WhisperNet  gets you books in 60 seconds.
  3. Sony doesn’t have as many books and they’re not as cheap.
  4. Kindle 2 beats Sony 300 on memory –  440 MB vs 1.4 GB.
  5. Kindle 2 beats Sony 300 on screen size. 

You get a lot more for that extra $100. Value for Money is what customers are looking for – not just the lowest sticker price.

It makes no sense that Sony would throw in the lightweight 300 when it has the Sony Reader 600.

The Real Comparison: Kindle 2 Vs Sony Reader 600

Kindle Vs Sony Reader 600 is a much fairer comparison.

Kindle Vs Sony Reader 600 – The 600’s advantages 

  1. The touch screen, being able to draw freehand on the touch screen.
  2. Expandable memory.
  3. Perhaps a non-breakable screen.
  4. Multiple Colors.
  5. The whole ‘do no evil’ and ‘be open’ angle.

Of course, Sony’s new found ‘open’ mantra doesn’t apply to battles they win like Blu-Ray.

If you look closely at most companies that play the ‘be good, be open’ card, they do not promote openness in areas they own, only in areas they lost out in.

Kindle Vs Sony Reader 600 – Kindle’s advantages

  1. WhisperNet.
  2. Free Internet.
  3. Read to Me. No idea if 600 will have this.
  4. More on-board memory. The 600 has just 360 MB.
  5. More books and cheaper books.

Regardless of who you thinks wins this fight (I think it’s the Kindle) its a much fairer fight than Kindle Vs Sony Reader 300.  

Sony misunderstands Readers and the eReader Market

The Kindle Vs Sony Reader 300 article unintentionally points out some obvious flaws in Sony’s view of the eReader market and customers -

  1.  At times they are borderline delusional -

    In one way, the Kindle’s rapid rise has actually benefited Sony. “The president of our division has said many times that Kindle has been great for expanding awareness for digital reading,” a Sony spokeswoman said. “Now everybody knows about it, so we don’t have to market that.”

  2. Continue with that approach Sony, and you won’t just have to not market it, you won’t have to sell it either.

  3. They still don’t get that its about books. Sony’s range of titles is rather limited. No one cares about 500K free public domain books.
  4. They don’t get that its about convenience. Without wireless downloads its too painful to buy online and transfer to the Reader.
  5. They’re banking too much on ‘the price cut’ and ‘an aggressive retail presence’ and ‘openness’.  

While Sony are doing some things right, including adding Sony Reader 300s and 600s in WalMart, Target, CostCo, etc. they are still approaching the Kindle Vs Sony Reader battle from an outdated, non customer-centric mindset.

Wide Range of reasonably priced Content and WhisperNet are the 2 big Kindle advantages Sony must match to have any hope of winning the Kindle Vs Sony Reader battle.

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