Sony Reader Touch Edition

It's hard to beat the Kindle's price point, but the Sony reader matches it otherwise almost feature-for-feature without falling prey to DRM. If you're looking for a full-featured, simple-to-use and elegant e-reader, the Touch is in a league of its own.


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Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.


It has been four years since the launch of the Sony Reader family in the US, but in Australia we've not had much of a look-in. Now, presumably because e-readers are finally gaining in momentum and popularity, two of Sony's models have finally arrived here. The Sony Reader Touch Edition, the larger of the two, is the third-generation model, and has only just been launched globally, and it's looking like it will be the most full-featured and affordable reader to date.

Design

Unlike most other readers, the Sony Reader Touch Edition is constructed of sleek aluminium. One would think this would make it heavier than plastic models, but its smaller form factor combines to make it the lightest six-inch reader in Australia, coming in at 215g — 6g lighter than the previous holder of the title, the Kobo.

The smaller physical size of the reader is due partly to a streamlining of button placement and the omission of a QWERTY keyboard. The front of the device only has five slender horizontal buttons, left and right for turning pages, the home key, a magnifier for easy access to text resizing and the Options menu. This allows for a smaller size in spite of the standard 6-inch screen.

The bottom edge of the Touch hosts a volume control, 3.5mm audio jack, power jack and reset button, while the power button and two memory card slots (one Memory Stick, one SD card) reside at the top, and a stylus is discreetly tucked away in the top right corner.

Features

As the name states, the big selling feature of the Touch is, well, a touchscreen. It uses infrared sensors around the edge of the display to detect the position of your finger or the stylus when you tap or swipe the screen. It's surprisingly sensitive and responds pretty smartly, but that carries problems of its own. A stray finger on the screen can take you where you don't want to go, but other things can set it off too; say you accidentally trail a sleeve over the screen, or cradle the reader in the crook of an arm as you go from one room to another carrying a cup of tea and a biscuit.

But a touchscreen, of course, has a whole bunch of other advantages too. You can double-tap the top right corner to bookmark a page, and it also means the device can be smaller and lighter, as any keyboard required for searching is displayed on the screen, eliminating the need for additional physical buttons on the actual device.

Using the stylus, you can also make notes in any text, either handwritten scribbles or highlighting by dragging the stylus over the text you wish to note. These notes will then be archived and can be accessed from a menu on the home screen, or erased by selecting the eraser tool and tapping the mark you wish to eradicate.

The Touch also comes bundled with 12 dictionaries in a variety of languages: both British and American English, and translation dictionaries between English and French, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Italian. If you want to look up a word, all you have to do is double-tap and the definition or translation is displayed at the bottom of the screen.

Now, the Touch doesn't have either 3G or Wi-Fi, unlike other e-readers on the market. Some might see this as a disadvantage, but ... and this will probably vary from person to person ... the absence of these features means the battery will last longer, so depending on what you want, this could be viewed as a good thing. The Touch's battery will last around 10,000 page turns at full charge.

The Touch's closest competitor on the market in terms of features is probably the third-generation Kindle. The Sony is more expensive, at $299 Australian compared to the Kindle's $189 American, but for some users, the extra dosh is worth having a device that supports open format and expandable memory in the form of slots for both SD card and Memory Stick. The Touch supports ePub, PDF, TXT, RTF and DOC files, among others, as well as audio files such as MP3 and AAC so you can listen to music from the device while you read, or use it for audio books.

Performance

The brand new Touch Edition has one slick and fast processor. Page turns are almost instantaneous, and the device takes only a second to wake from sleep and return to your page. It also had no problems at all remembering the last open page in multiple documents.

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. It's relatively easy to use if you don't like fiddling around with folders.

The Sony Reader Touch Edition is fast, light, intuitive and loaded up with excellent features that make for a superior e-reading experience. Even without Wi-Fi, it is without a doubt the best e-reader we've seen to date. It's available now from Sony Centres, and Borders and Angus & Robertson book stores.

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betty1 posted a comment   

The Good:esy to read good range of download programs

The Bad:far to easy to break

I have gone through 2 sony eReaders since Nov 2010. Both have died with a small knock to the screen. I had the cover alas to no avail. Surely these machines should be tougher. One knock as it was carried in a bag, ( i think mobile bumped it) and the screan died. Sony should invent a hard cover for it, one that will properly protect the oversensetive screen. I am about to try with my third. So while best invention since sliced bread for us bookworms, far to fragile. And the batteries only last a few days reading, i imagine the claim they can last for up to 2 weeks reading is based on some-one doing an hour or 2 a day.

Bigmack
9
Rating
 

Bigmack posted a review   

The Good:Beats paper everytime

The Bad:Nothing of signifigance

Fantastic to have and use whilst traveling. E books open up many unpublished titles that are not available in some countries. Sony Readers has been used by my wife and I on multiple os trips without any problems.
The cover and ac charger are vital.Built in LED light in cover is great at night or on planes and the single AAA lasts a reasonable time. The only downsize some may find is that you can't download from Amazon---but who cares, there are many other place to buy at the same prices with the same range

Samoa
4
Rating
 

Samoa posted a review   

The Good:Liked SD memory & MP3

The Bad:It Froze

Bought it in DEC10, lasted till mid-JAN11.
I would have liked a lock screen slider. and a covered hatch on the Chip Cards. i used my Touch as a MP3 player for Talking books and music and also reading, drawings and typing docs.
Great bit of kit, wish it would work.
Still waiting on warranty work 4 weeks later, dropped it off in Perth WA.

Liv
8
Rating
 

Liv posted a review   

The Good:Beautiful, easy to use

The Bad:Nothing

I bought mine from Borders and after a week, the screen froze. I took it back and promptly got a new one in exchange! I've had it for months now and (touch wood), it's working perfectly.

It's electronic, so it's bound to stop working in the future. But even with a one year warranty, I feel covered as I've been able to read a lot more books in the last few months than in the last year.

Buy it from Borders - excellent return/exchange policy.

davegh
6
Rating
 

davegh posted a review   

The Good:easy to use

The Bad:not responsive

I recommend to visit your local Sony store, and play a few minutes with one of these e-book readers, so you know what you're buying. I did it this morning, with the prs-350 (the prs-650 was not in stock) and I found the screen was not responsive all the time.I was surprise that the same happens with the buttons. Some times I was needing to touch the screen or click the buttons several times in order to get an action from the reader.

Also a couple of times the device was freeze in the same page (cannot change to another page) so I was needing to go to the main menu and back to reading the book to get it working ( something that can be done very quick, but it's annoying).

I found the screen to be more reflective that I was expecting. If the light source is just on top ( like reading on the bed) the reflection could be very annoying as well.

The screen is sharp, but still have the feeling of a digital screen, not that close to read in paper. I think the technology is promising, but it's not mature enough.

I like the simplicity of this e-book reader, I don't need any fancy features. Also get started right away, when other devices take several seconds to start.

I was planning to buy a e-book reader today, either the prs-350 or the prs-650, but after play with the small one for a while, I decided to wait until the technology and the devices matures a little bit more.

Barb
1
Rating
 

Barb posted a review   

We bought a touch reader 4 weeks ago. I was reading when the screen started to break up. I took it to the Sony technicians who said there had been "physical damage" and that I might as well throw it away. "How can't I help you" attitude. Rang Sony, who, after being threatened with legal action, said they would investigate. There is no evidence of physical damage. The screen itself shows no splits. It is a touch screen - so is one not to touch it? Sony displays shocking customer service. No more Sony equipment for us.

 

Liz posted a comment   

I was given Pocket addition for Christmas and I have had no end of trouble with the screen freezing since. How many times should a reset button have to be used?
I am not happy despite looking forward to purchasing and saving the paper.

I also have tried to register on My Sony but despite putting the correct detail in the boxes the submission failed because I hadn't added the detail.

I am totally fristrated at this and can't wait to read a book!

ollie
2
Rating
 

ollie posted a review   

bought one last week from Sony Shop in Nunawading. downloaded about 5 books, read one and now the screen is bleeding and will not reset. took it back to Sony shop to be told that can't send it away for repair until middle of January or I could take it myself and leave it some 2 hours from where I live.

I was told that I must have dropped it even though it doesn't look like it. The attitude was it must be my fault rather than faulty equipment. Athought I was advised that if it is found to be faulty it will be replaced but this will take another few weeks. Was a very expensive investment to break down so quickly. The reader was fine when working THE AFTER SALES SERVICE TERRIBLE

 

louie posted a comment   

Question, Thinking of getting the Sony touch, what is the selection of books available like and what do you pay per book?

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Louie,

Borders and Angus & Robertson have ebook sections on their websites, you can take a look there for a rough idea. I also like the Book Depository (UK website). Also remember websites like Manybooks and Project Gutenberg, where you can download out-of-copyright ebooks for free.


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Reader Touch Edition

  • betty1

    betty1

    "I have gone through 2 sony eReaders since Nov 2010. Both have died with a small knock to the screen. I had the cover alas to no avail. Surely these machines should be tougher. One knock as it w..."

  • Bigmack

    Bigmack

    Rating9

    "Fantastic to have and use whilst traveling. E books open up many unpublished titles that are not available in some countries. Sony Readers has been used by my wife and I on multiple os trips withou..."

  • Samoa

    Samoa

    Rating4

    "Bought it in DEC10, lasted till mid-JAN11.
    I would have liked a lock screen slider. and a covered hatch on the Chip Cards. i used my Touch as a MP3 player for Talking books and music and al..."

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