Sony has been all about the e-reader lately, announcing the Digital Reader Pocket Edition and Touch Edition earlier this month, then following up yesterday with the Digital Reader Daily Edition, a high-end product with a touch screen and 3G connectivity. It's clear that Sony's approach is anything but half-hearted, and I think the company is in prime position to knock Amazon's Kindle e-reader of its perch. Here are five reasons why:
Simply put, Sony will be selling three current-generation e-readers, and Amazon sells only two. More isn't necessarily better, but each reader offers a distinct improvement over the last, allowing buyers to save money by abandoning features they don't need.
Old-schoolers lament how e-readers lack the tactile pleasure of a print book, but touch screens are as good a consolation as it gets. Two of Sony's readers, the Touch Edition and the Daily Edition, have this feature, while Amazon's Kindles are stuck with buttons. Who presses their way through a book, anyway?
For $300, it's a toss-up between the Kindle's 3G connectivity and the Touch Edition's touch response, but Sony's clearly got the upper hand when you move up or down in price. The Pocket Edition seems more desirable for $200 than a first-generation Kindle, and at $400 Sony offers a 3G reader with a 7-inch touch screen. That's not as large as the 9.7-inch Kindle DX, but it's also $89 cheaper.
Sony has apparently learned from the ATRAC days that open file formats are more preferable than proprietary ones. By supporting the ePub format, Sony's essentially guaranteeing that your digital library will always have a home. Stick with Kindle's proprietary format, and you're forever a slave to Amazon's device.
Remember libraries? If you buy a Sony e-reader, you won't have to give them up thanks to the company's partnership with OverDrive -- an e-book provider that works with a network of public libraries. Sony's Daily Edition reader is also connected to a Scribd site called "Words Move Me," where people can post and share their favorite book passages. If an e-reader's going to connect to the Internet, it might as well be social about it.