Meet the New Sony Readers
Sony is introducing three new models to its e-reader lineup, with two of them available in two colors; each model represents a different screen size. Pictured here are the Sony Reader Pocket Edition (foreground) and the Reader Touch Edition (middle row); both are available immediately. The Reader Daily Edition (at back) will ship in November. All three models use the latest in E-Ink technology, the E-Ink Pearl display. Every model also has a built-in stylus, micro-USB ports for charging (previously, Sony used mini-USB), Memory Stick and SD Card slots, and at least 2GB of on-board storage.
Glare-Free, Sharp Touch Screen
A central feature to all three models is Sony's new infrared optical technology touchscreen. The touchscreen uses infrared sensors to detect where your finger is, compares that information against a matrix that identifies your finger's position and what action you are trying to accomplish, and then performs that action. As for image quality, the difference is striking: In this picture, you can see at left last year's Daily Edition--note the glare and the fuzzy appearance of text as compared with the crisp, contrasty screen of the new Daily Edition at right. The new touchscreen is super-responsive in use, too.
Pocket Edition Shrinks Down
The new version of the Pocket Edition has the most dramatic redesign of any of the Sony Readers. While it's still made of aluminum, it now has a smooth, grippy, rubberized back. The $179 Pocket Edition PRS-350 comes in mauve pink or silver--and as you can see here, it has shrunk considerably, making better utilization of the available space to showcase the 5-inch screen. Replacing the mess of buttons along the right of and below the screen are buttons that cleanly run along the bottom of the screen, as on the Touch Edition.
Pocket Edition Close-Up
Weighing 5.6 ounces, the Pocket Edition has (from left to right) page-back and page-forward buttons, a zoom button, a font button, and an options button. This line of Sony Readers is the first generation to allow you to adjust the contrast and brightness ratio, too. You can choose from among six font size options, from XS to XXL. At top is the power switch, while the built-in stylus is at the upper right. Look carefully on the screen, and you can see the dictionary, which pops up if you touch a word. New to the Reader lineup is a set of 12 dictionaries, including conversion dictionaries for French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch, plus American English.
Sony Reader Touch Edition
The least changed of the three models, the $229 Sony Touch Edition PRS-650 (pictured here in the middle) has a design that's virtually identical to last year's model. The buttons and slots are the same at the top edge, but this version loses the handstrap slot and dedicated power jack on the bottom. Sony says the new model can last up to two weeks on a single charge, and it weighs 7.9 ounces. Like the other models in Sony's lineup, the Touch Edition has an aluminum chassis, and it has a grippy back.
Sony Reader vs. Amazon Kindle
The Touch Edition's 7-inch screen looks dramatically more substantial than the 6-inch screen on the Amazon Kindle (third generation) shown at center, and the 5-inch screen of the new Pocket Edition (at right). All three e-reader models use the E-Ink Pearl screen.
E-readers are enjoying a boom. For a look at the competition, you might enjoy:
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