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.

Kindle, Sony Reader Review via PhotoSynth

PhotoSynth gives you a 360 degree view of the Kindle 2 and the Sony Reader Touch Edition.

You have to check it out - especially the PhotoSynth comparison of the Kindle 2 and the Sony Reader Touch which is, in some ways, better than a video would be. All the images are excellent clarity and you can change the viewing angle and zoom as you like.  

Kindle 2 Vs Sony Touch Comparison via PhotoSynth.

If you don’t have PhotoSynth, check out this page to download it – Kindle 2 Vs Sony Reader Touch Edition.

The individual photosynths they are on the same page, and include -

  1. Kindle 2 PhotoSynth  - In case you want to see more of the Kindle 2, which you can buy at Amazon.
  2. Sony Reader Touch Edition PhotoSynth - See the Sony Reader from all angles. The 300 Pocket Edition and the Touch Edition are available at Amazon.

If you haven’t used PhotoSynth before you’ll love it – it basically stitches together a bunch of images to give you a panoramic view. You can -

  1. Watch a SlideShow. 
  2. View a single picture and choose one of various angles to get a different perspective.
  3. Hold down your mouse button and rotate through view angles. 
  4. Zoom in and Zoom Out.
  5. Expand the Viewer to fill the whole screen. 

Its basically an absolutely great way of experiencing an object or view or a landscape. In this particular case it’s the best way to see what the Kindle 2 and Sony Touch Edition look like without holding them in your hands.

Thoughts on the Kindle and Sony Reader PhotoSynths

  1. The contrast PhotoSynth really highlights Kindle’s advantage in screen contrast and Sony’s advantage in looks and size.
  2. The amount of reflection on the Sony Reader is annoying. There was none of this on the Pocket Edition so it must have to do with the touch layer.
  3. Neither the Touch nor the Pocket Edition have any side lighting. Again, removed because it messed up readability.
  4. The Sony looks really pretty in red. The navy blue pocket edition looked really good too.
  5. In an alternate reality Kindle and Sony would tie-up to produce absolutely amazing eReaders.
  6. Sony really should add a Journal Application.

The PhotoSynth technology itself is marvellous.

Wonder how long it’ll be before product pages are using PhotoSynth and Videos instead of images?

Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

The Sony Reader PRS-600 is now available for order at Amazon for $299. At today’s (Aug 25th) Press Conference Sony announced you can order it.

Although Sony is not touting it as such, the PRS-600 with its $299 price is a direct competitor to the Kindle 2. Sony Reader PRS-600 comes in with its Touch capability and Kindle 2 has wireless access and free Internet access.

Sony Reader Touch Edition – Review Video, Leaked Manual

A Sony Reader Touch Edition video review –

Here’s a quick video covering the leaked manual -

It seems it’ll be a worldwide release - US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and Netherlands.

The sources the revealed details of the Sony PRS-600 were –  

  1. August 2nd: JR.com briefly put up the Sony Reader PRS 600 Touch Edition for preorder. The Sony Reader 600′s price was listed at $299.
  2. A user at the Sony Insider Forums found the Sony Reader PRS 600 manual. The Sony Reader 600 has some cool features and is a strong play by Sony.

Sony Reader PRS 600 – Key Features

  1. Reasonable Price – $299.
  2. TouchScreen – confirmed from manual.
  3. It mentions MP3 encoding technology which hints at a voice recording or voice memo function.
  4. Might be flexible – the board for touchscreen, eInk, and back pane all say ‘flexible’ in the manual. Could this be a flexible, unbreakable screen?
  5. Excellent Font Support – It comes with an in-built Font Fusion Engine from BitStream that supports Chinese, Korean, Japanese. It also claims to support ANY font. The default fonts look good (these are fonts on my PC, these are NOT on the Sony) -

    Sony Reader PRS 600 Default Fonts

    Sony Reader PRS 600 Default Fonts

  6. Extendible memory – The manual indicates SD Card and Memory Stick Duo are both supported.
  7. Very compact – It’s 4.87″ by 6.87″ by .4 inches. That’s roughly 11 cm by 17.4 cm by .98 cm.
  8. No wireless support although it is planned down the line.

Another big bonus is that Sony will be matching Kindle $9.99 prices on new releases and on bestsellers.

Sony Reader PRS-600 – Details

  1. 6 inch screen.
  2. 8 levels of grayscale and 800 by 600 resolution.
  3. Very light at 10.1 oz (286 g). Very thin at .4″.
  4. Sony Reader 600 will be available in Red, Black and Silver.
  5. Has a touchscreen. The panel below the screen might be touch sensitive buttons (which would be cool).
  6. Freehand highlighting and annotation – apparently its free hand writing with a stylus.
  7. Built-in Dictionary support.
  8. Innovative eLibrary software that supports Windows and Macintosh.
  9. Can be charged via AC adapter or USB. 
  10. Sony Reader 600 has 380 Mb of storage capacity. 
  11. It also has SD Card and Memory Stick Duo support.
  12. Battery Life of the Sony Reader 600 is 7,500 pages.

The picture used for the manual is rather drab – However the press release has much better images -

Sony Reader PRS 600 - Silver, Red and Black

Sony Reader PRS 600 - Silver, Red and Black

The Sony Reader 600 manual in PDF at Google Docs. Or if you want to check it out on your Kindle, the Kindle format Sony 600 manual.

Sony Reader 600 – An Impressive Reader

The Sony Reader PRS 600 is definitely the high end, ‘looking for a fight with the Kindle’ eReader. Its official name is the Sony Reader PRS 600 Touch Edition and the support for freehand writing is pretty cool.

  1. The fact that it’s at just $299 is impressive. Super agressive pricing by Sony.
  2. No Wireless Support.
  3. The testing mode has a ‘draw on the screen’ mode which indicates Sony might have improved refresh speed somehow (not a given).  
  4. There is very little wasted real estate. It’s all screen and it seems it’ll be super compact for a 6″ screen ereader.
  5. There are some buttons right at the lower edge of the screen. Not sure if there are touch controls above it. There is an on-screen touch keyboard.

The Sony 600 is a very impressive device. There are just a lot of good, solid features. At $299 it matches the Kindle 2 on pricing and will give Kindle 2 a solid run for its money.

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