With its smaller, 5-inch screen, the Pocket Edition is smaller than the average bear, small enough (as suggested by the name) to slip into a largish pocket and weighing in at just 155g. This makes it super-portable, easy to slip into a bag pocket and easy to hold in one hand for extended reading sessions.
The screen dominates the front of the reader, with a minimal spread of slimline buttons located along the bottom for navigation, Home, zoom and options. The screen itself is touch-sensitive, based on infrared sensors around the perimeter, which means most actions can be performed via the touch interface as well as the buttons.
A plastic bumper borders the aluminium chassis on three sides, with a power/sleep button at the top, a micro-USB port at the bottom and a stylus couched in the top right corner. This is a useful addition, for writing, but navigating can be performed just as easily with a finger. It's available in three colours — silver, pink or dark navy blue.
A smaller, pared-down version of the Sony Reader Touch Edition, the Pocket still boasts features such as an infrared touchscreen and multiple dictionaries for both English definition search (easily achieved by double-tapping the appropriate word) and translation to and from Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The touchscreen allows you to make notes and highlight text as well as navigate menus and bookmark pages. However, also like the Touch Edition, the touchscreen on the Pocket can be a little over-sensitive, responding to something as small as a stray hair or dust mote.
Using the options menu, you also search text, go to specific pages, make notes, keep a word log, adjust the screen settings for more comfortable viewing, delete books from the device, or switch to a landscape orientation.
A couple of notable feature exceptions are Wi-Fi and audio support.
Like the Touch, the Pocket's processor is slick and fast, taking very little time to process page turns or wake from sleep.
The touchscreen, as mentioned above, is quite sensitive, but does take a moment to process your taps and swipes; we found it faster to turn the page using the thankfully quite comfortably placed buttons than swiping the screen; for menu navigation, however, the touchscreen was an intuitive and comfortable method of getting around. We've seen many people try to tap on the screen of an e-reader before realising that this particular technology doesn't work that way, so its integration here is fantastic.
Getting files onto the reader can be as simple as opening the folder in your computer's directory and dragging and dropping, which we found preferable. It also comes with its own desktop app, which appears to be a re-skinned version of Adobe Digital Editions, with its own book store hosting books in Sony's proprietary BBeB file format. It's relatively easy to use if you don't like fiddling around with folders.
We also particularly like the way the Sony readers handle PDFs; rather than zooming in on a page, making for awkward scrolling back and forth to read text, the Pocket (and the Touch) extract the text from PDFs and make it independently resizable. Do note, however, that a scanned page will still need to be zoomed as a whole.
For a highly portable, sleek and zippy e-reader, the Sony Reader Pocket Edition is an excellent performer. It may be a bit lighter on features than some of the less pricey e-readers on the market, but its compact form factor, excellent hardware, PDF handling and input options make it a great little unit for someone who wants max portability and great performance.