Sony Reader Touch Edition review

Full review: Is Sony's new eBook reader a Kindle killer?

Image 1 of 2 Sony Reader Touch Edition blue
Sony Reader Touch Edition blue
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Sony Reader Touch Edition pink

It's got the touch and almost the power

The original Sony Reader Touch was a brave but ultimately flawed attempt at a touchscreen eReader. The main problem with it was that to make it touch sensitive a film had to be put over the screen – one which added reflection. Anyone with an Apple iPad knows that a reflective screen is like Kryptonite to ebooks, so Sony had to go gone back to the drawing board.

Second time around the PRS-650 Reader has a touchscreen that doesn't impinge on the quality of the screen – an impressive first for the eReader market.

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The Sony Reader Touch is a solid piece of kit. The chassis is made from a tough metal, making it feel like a premium product. The screen at 6 inches the right size for reading (the size of a paperback) and the use of the latest E Ink, Pearl means there is a brilliant zing to the fonts.

Couple this with the 800 x 600 16-level greyscale resolution means that it really feels like you are reading a book.
At 220 grams, the device is light too and when it comes to buttons, the Reader certainly has a minimal look and feel. Unlike the Kindle's bulky QWERTY bottom, Sony has opted for five thin buttons which sit flush with the frame of the screen.

Sony Reader Touch Edition review: touchscreen controls

The touch-sensitive screen is a joy to use when reading an ebook. Swiping to the left or right swiftly turns the page and double tapping on a word will bring up the Oxford English dictionary – which a great addition. The touch isn't so good when it comes to using the virtual QWERTY keyboard but Sony has included a stylus, so if finger touching does get to much you can tap away with that.

Another feature unique to the Reader Touch is note taking, where you can scribble missives on to the books you read, like a virtual graffiti artist. Again this works better using the accompanying stylus.

Sony Reader Touch Edition review: Memory and battery life

The Sony Reader Touch comes with a surprising amount of memory. In-built is around 2GB, which is enough for 1,200 ebooks but this is expandable two ways: through Sony MemoryStick or SD Card.

And all this reading hardly drains the battery. Sony quotes two weeks' use and with several days use, we did not seen an ounce of drainage – it is such a low-powered machine.

Sony Reader Touch Edition review: ebook library access

Sony may not have the backing of a store like the Kindle has, but it does have a decent trick up its sleeve with free book rentals. Sign up to one of 50 libraries in the UK supporting the scheme and you can virtually rent books. Couple this with direct access to the free books in Google's archive and there's a multitude of free reading you can do.

If you want to purchase books, then you can do so in stores which uses EPUB eBooks (Adept) BBeB eBooks. Sony has tried to make the Reader Touch Edition has open as possible and this can only be a good thing.

So, is the Reader an Amazon Kindle killer? When it comes to form factor and screen it knocks it out of the park but it does have a few flaws. A complete lack of Wi-Fi or 3G means this is a tethered device and not one that you can purchase stuff on while on the go. This is a real gripe as the rest of the device shows so much promise. Cost is also a bit of an issue. Considering it is retailing at a full £50 more than the Kindle 3G, this is one device which comes at a premium.

Link: Sony

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SPECIFICATIONS
Screen size/res: 6-inches, 600x800
Memory: 2GB (expandable)
Battery: 2 weeks
Card slots:SD, MemoryStick Pro Duo
Formats supported: EPUB eBooks (Adept) BBeB eBook, PDF, Word, TXT, RTF
Connections: 3.5mm jack, high-speed USB
Dimensions: 168x119x10mm/220g

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