Sony Reader WiFi Touch (PRS-T1)

Although there have been a few changes and additions, the PRS-T1 is pretty much the same device as the PRS-650 — only much better value for money.


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CNET Editor

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.


Sony arrived on the Aussie e-reader market last year with a bang, introducing two touchscreen models that proved increasingly difficult to purchase in the ensuing months (a situation not helped by the effect of a tsunami on Sony's E Ink supplier in Japan).

Now the new generation has arrived in the form of the PRS-T1 six-inch touchscreen reader — and it's already making a better impression, simply by virtue of better stock quantities. Whether or not it stacks up against both its direct predecessor and the current competition in other arenas, however, is a different matter.

Design

Unlike the previous generation of Sony Readers that made it to Australia, the PRS-T1 is cased in a hard plastic chassis rather than aluminium. Although it makes the e-reader lighter — it weighs just 168g compared to the PRS-650's 215g, making it the lightest six-inch reader on the market — we were a bit dubious about how this would affect the sturdiness and feel.

Defying our doubts, though, it turned out pretty swanky. The case is metallic gloss on the front and metallic matte on the back, which looks good, although both surfaces are of the ilk that catches fingerprints. An aluminium panel on the front gives the design visual interest without being distracting, and the row of buttons for back, forward, home, return and menu are clear without being unduly obvious.

Although the reader is lighter, it doesn't feel flimsy — Sony has managed to find the fine line between portability (lightness) and solid build, and it has a good weight balance.

An SD card slit tucks away behind a panel on the back-right edge, and everything else — power button, micro-USB charging and connection port, reset button and power button — are arrayed discreetly along the bottom edge.

One confusing design choice is the stylus. Although one is included in the box, there is nowhere on the device itself to store it, unlike the PRS-650, which had a slot in the top right corner. Unless you spend extra on a case, be prepared for the stylus to go adventuring and not even send you postcards.

Features

The first thing we should probably mention is that Sony has massively slashed the price of its six-inch reader; the PRS-650 launched on the Aussie market for AU$299 — US$229 stateside, which is around an AU$70 price difference. The PRS-T1 goes for US$149 in the States, and AU$179 here; so, not only has Sony managed to drop the price by around 40 per cent, but it has also brought down the Australia Tax by around 60 per cent. We probably have Amazon (which is likely selling its Kindles at a loss, just for context) to thank for that, but whatever the impetus, it's a welcome change.

For that price, what you get is a feature set that almost matches item for item the PRS-650, with a few new changes. The Memory Stick Duo slot is gone, as is support for DOC, RTF and BBeB files; in return, we have IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, longer battery life and a faster processor — 1GHz, compared to the previous model's 532MHz. As you know, though, that doesn't necessarily make it faster — the Sony Reader took nearly twice as long to boot up and open a book as the Kobo (40 seconds versus 23), and does also take slightly longer to open files, although page turns are comparably swift.

One of our favourite features of the PRS-650 and the PRS-350 was PDF reflow, and it's made a return. Coupled with the device's price and performance, this makes it the best e-reader for PDF files on the market. It does struggle with larger PDF files; a 300-page PDF took a long time to open, and another long time to turn a page; but smaller files are a lot faster, and it's a relatively simple matter to break your PDFs down into smaller files before loading them onto the device.

Other features carried over include the multiple dictionaries and audio support, but we're pleased to see that Sony has now also made the step up to include Wi-Fi — although the app for the Google bookstore that does nothing has us scratching our heads (Sony has yet to comment on whether Google Books compatibility is on the way).

Performance

We were rather surprised that the software was still pretty much the same as in the previous edition of the e-reader. This means that the touchscreen can still be a little over-sensitive, and sometimes it doesn't register presses. It's not a massive problem, but we would have hoped that Sony could have cleared it up right now.

There was another software bug that caused some grief — occasionally, the pages would just start flipping forwards very quickly for 10 seconds or so; when they stopped, the touchscreen would become unresponsive, requiring a reset with a paperclip. Apparently this is not an uncommon problem, and Sony does appear to be aware of it and is working on a fix, but it's something to keep an eye on.

Aside from these issues, the PRS-T1 is easy to use. Although its interface isn't as intuitive as the Kobo's, most people shouldn't have any problems navigating, and a direct link to a browser on the home screen makes buying books online fairly easy — although you will have to navigate to the bookstore yourself. If you still want to buy your books online, you can bypass the Sony software by installing Adobe Digital Editions; and, as always, non-DRM material can be transferred by opening the device on your computer as external storage. It should also be noted that even using the Wi-Fi from time to time, the battery lasts a few solid weeks.

Conclusion

Its close similarity means that our experience with the PRS-650 still more or less applies. This means, in turn, that the PRS-T1 is also a great device, especially at the price point — it's not a purchase that you'll regret. However, given that the PRS-650's competitors have made significant moves forward, it was a little disappointing that Sony has not.

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Post comment as
seriousreader
2
Rating
 

"Hate it - clumsy and slow system with difficulty purchasing books in Australia"

seriousreader posted a review   
Australia

The Good:light and cool looking

The Bad:no back light, erractic touch functioning, complicated process to put books onto it in comparison to kindle

I was given this ereader for Christmas. Up until then I had used Kindle for PC and purchased books from Amazon - or got them for next to nothing. I was pleased with the gift as it is a bit clunky to take a netbook around with you to read a novel. However, I have been very disappointed with this ereader and have gone back to the netbook! Why? The following are my issues with thsi ereader -
1. It is just not set up for Australians - forget it if you are in Australia - you have to purchase from either of two expensive Australian stores but also go through an elaborate process to put the book onto the ereader - none of this one click process that occurs with kindle. I did buy a book from Fishbone but then couldn't get it onto the ereader.....
2. The cost of the books to buy therefore are almost the same as a real book.....and take a lot of mucking around to get.
3. The touch function is very jittery - turning pages with a swipe of the finger randomly works - therefore I go for the arrows underneath.
4. Perhaps I am spoilt with the iphone system but the workings of this ereader are just clumsy - if you want to turn it round 90 degrees and read, it doesn't work automatically like the iphone but you have to go into the menu and find the right button to press to turn it round - about three clicks to muck around - and then it stays like that for the rest of the book unless you put it back again. Also to change the magnification, it should work by touch but it does not have the fine tuning of the iphone to do this - again I have found that I have to go into the menu and do it by hand.
5. My greatest disappointment with this reader is that it is hard to read because the contrast is not great - when I tried to make the contrast better, it makes no difference. It has no backlight so it is nigh on impossible to read at night with a lamp on - I have been used to reading the netbook at night with no light so that my husband can sleep without disturbance - I have taken to wearing a head torch to try and read the rotten thing at night.

So - not a success at all - I have two going cheaply or off to the opshop. Don't waste your money.

drwho
9
Rating
 

"This e-reader is great!"

drwho posted a review   

The Good:Simple to use-layout is basic and easy to figure out. I was concerned that the "flash" at each page turn would annoy me but I found that I think of it as turning a page as I would with a real book. I was concerned about the fact that Sony hasn't open their reader store yet but I managed to find MANY books from many different sources including google books. I have really enjoyed using the reader so far. It will never replace hard copy books but it is an amazingly useful and very light!

The Bad:I haven't had any issues with it so far. Although I must admit I was very unimpressed by the cost of cases for the reader. I ended up purchasing one online because the Sony cover was just too expensive!

I have never been sold on the the whole e-reader craze. I always thought that I would be the last person to get one because I love hard copybooks so much. However, I have started travelling more frequently and I don't have the space to carry my much loved books.

After much deliberation I decided to get the Sony reader.

 

RobertS5 posted a reply   

you get the case for free at Myer at the moment

 

MissAdorkable posted a comment   
Australia

Michelle,

In relation to my comment below, I was wondering about how you buy eBooks for the Sony PRS-T1. According to the Sony website, their eBook store is only available to people in the US and Canada, and so Australian residents have to buy eBooks from Borders or Angus and Robertson. These are so much more expensive! Is their an alternative?

 

MissAdorkable posted a comment   
Australia

Hi Michelle,

I've been reading all your reviews on ereaders, as I am planning to buy one. I have a couple of questions that I'd really appreciate it if you answered.

1. Kobo Touch or Sony PRS-T1? Which is, overall, a better ereader?

2. With the Sony one, I have Overdrive Media console that holds any ebooks I have borrowed from my local library. Are these compatible with the PRS-T1?

3. Just to be certain, can books on either the Kobo or the Sony be purchased on the ereader? Do they have to be bought on a computer and transferred?

Thanks a lot :)

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi MissAdorkable!

Ooh, that's a question. Which one is better really depends on what you want to do with it. The Sony now deserves a higher score than what I initially gave it, seeing as its software glitches have been resolved.

What I like about the Sony is its PDF reflow support. If you read a lot of PDFs and would like that ability on your e-reader, get the Sony, no question. I like the Kobo because it's amazingly user-friendly and responsive.

The PRS-T1 is compatible with OverDrive.

Yes, they can, but you need to have a Wi-Fi connection. The Kobo e-reader has an on-board Kobo store and, if you go into Settings - Extras, a browser as well so that you can purchase books from other places online. The Sony Reader only has the browser.

As for your final question above, I like the Book Depository, but have a look here for other resources, including free ebooks:

http://www.cnet.com.au/ask-us-where-to-get-ebooks-339313078.htm

 

Squidy posted a comment   
Australia

Hi there,

Thanks for the great review of this. I was tossing up between this and the Kobo but after reading this review I bought this one instead. I was in love with this device... Until my girlfriend stole it so I had to go back and buy another! ha! Now we both own one and are incredibly happy with it :)

I must admit I loaded a few PDFs I bought a while ago and wasnt happy with the quality or size of the text (although it's probably just an issue with PDF itself) but the epub titles are incredibly clear.

A very nice device to have. I bought some books in epub format to save myself carrying around the books and now I'm actually reading again and loving it.

 

bbb1983 posted a comment   
Australia

I just got the new Sony e-reader for Christmas and it has been fantastic. So good that for the past 3 or 4 days I've not been able to use it because my wife has stolen it off me!! Lucky it's her birthday this weekend so I've bought her one. Could not find a white one anywhere but at the Sony store in Brisbane.

The media player I haven't quite figured out (I think you have to go back through the home screen to change songs) but that is my only gripe so far. Dictionary and Wiki function are fantastic.

I might be a bit biased as the Sony is my first reader but I found it is a fantastic way to read. Whether it is perception or not, I find that I read faster, more comfortably and in turn want to read more often with my ereader, especially with the Sony case and light (i can read while my wife is asleep).

I've already loaded it up with about 15 books that I am keen to read (and will probably take 3 or 4 months to get through) so not having the ability to update via WiFi isn't an issue yet. It might be handy for periodicals though I'm still an e-reader learner.

 

VincentE posted a comment   

This review is inaccurate.

1.Software updates can be done over wifi (refer to Sony Australia's update page and without the need for a computer).

2. Books can be deleted. Tap books, click the options, tap delete books.


Finally, if you like to borrow books, make sure the reader you plan to buy is compatible. For instance, the Brisbane City Council library doesn't support the Kindle.

 

CAE posted a comment   
Australia

Any news on the HTC Flyer? the one with the stylus, handwriting recognition, note-taking, phone, camera etc?
CAE

 

CAE posted a comment   
Australia

Thanks for answering my question re Sony's eReader WiFi 's ability to save notes

 

Bernadete posted a comment   
Australia

Could someone help me please. Am I able to go to the back page of a book on my sony e-reader? i.e. to read the summary.

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Bernadette,

I'm afraid not. There are a few things that ebooks still don't do, and the back cover is one of them.


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Reader WiFi Touch (PRS-T1)

  • seriousreader

    seriousreader

    Rating2

    "I was given this ereader for Christmas. Up until then I had used Kindle for PC and purchased books from Amazon - or got them for next to nothing. I was pleased with the gift as it is a bit clunky..."

  • drwho

    drwho

    Rating9

    "I have never been sold on the the whole e-reader craze. I always thought that I would be the last person to get one because I love hard copybooks so much. However, I have started travelling more fr..."

  • MissAdorkable

    MissAdorkable

    "Michelle,

    In relation to my comment below, I was wondering about how you buy eBooks for the Sony PRS-T1. According to the Sony website, their eBook store is only available to people in..."

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