Sony Touch and Pocket Reader ebook line-up – Hands On

E-Books, Features, Previews, Tech Digest news

Sony Reader range top.jpgSony have today been showing off their updated range of ereader devices. Both the Pocket and Touch Reader devices have been given a once-over, with revamped touchscreens on both models, as well as smaller and lighter builds. Tech Digest went hands-on with both devices this morning. Read on for our initial impressions, and scroll down for some photos of the gear.

Apart from the sizing differences (the Touch features a 6 inch display whilst the Pocket sports a 5 incher) there’s not too much to separate the two Readers. Both use e-ink optical touch screens at 800×600 resolutions, making it far easier to navigate your library than the button-heavy Kindle. Finger swipes are all that’s needed to turn pages and flick through settings, though a stylus is included with both the Touch and Pocket. Glare whilst reading in direct sunlight has also been reduced across both units, whilst contrast performance has also been improved, with sixteen levels of greyscale available.

Top of the list of new features is a rather nifty dictionary function. Double-tap any word on the devices and you’ll be brought straight to its Oxford English Dictionary definition, as well as translation dictionaries for 5 major European languages.

There’s also a new sketchbook application to go along with the note and highlighting functions. Though both the Touch and Reader are running on the same chip, we found the Touch to be a little bit more responsive when taking notes and sketching. Our input seemed instantaneous on the Touch, whilst there was a little lag when using the Pocket edition.

2GB of storage is on-board for each, enough for around 1,200 books, and the Touch edition also features memory expansion through Memory Card and SD, useful if you’re thinking of making heavy use of the MP3 and AAC playback features. PDF support has been improved with intelligent scaling now added. A single battery charge should last for around 3 weeks, or 10,000 page turns.

Sony have also smartly teamed up with Google to offer a link through the Reader website with which to download any number of the 500,000 Reader-compatible books that the search giants have digitised, giving every owner instant access to a vast personal library without having to spend a penny. Likewise, digital books can be downloaded from your local library through their websites, which will automatically return themselves once your loan period is up.

Lightweight, comfortable, and most importantly, very readable, the Readers are looking pretty good. Though the Kindle’s screen may still be a little less reflective, the touchscreen controls look set to put Sony’s gear at the top of the e-reader pile.

Due in shops on September 17th, pricing has yet to be confirmed, though you’re looking at around £100 for the Pocket and £150 roughly for the Touch. We’ll have a full review soon, but for now, feast your eyes on the hands-on pics below.

Gerald Lynch
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  • Hi, Darran, and thanks for your comments to my reply. I agree completely, I think specially if your library allows you to borrow ebooks after a while you’ll actually be making up for the difference in price against the KIndle. That’s why I opted to get a Sony PRS 505 last year and am now going to upgrade to the new prs 650. I don’t really mind if there’s no wireless connectivity on the Touch as it’s such a simple thing to move an ebook to the reader and it’s not like I often have to buy a book while I’m out at the grocery or gym where I pretty much go most of the time. It’s more important for me to have many sources of books and also, in the future, if another maker comes up with a better reader and i want to upgrade again, it would be no problem to just move my books to it as almost all other readers use the EPUB format.

  • In addition to your comment Chris I think another point often unnoticed is that if you buy a Kindle then you can only buy books from Amazon and the only e-Ink device you can use to read the books will be a Kindle.

    For Sony which uses the Adobe DRM for EPUB there are many bookstores that sell the books, including libraries with free books to loan and there are many more devices that support Adobe DRM EPUB also allowing a move to different devices in the future.

  • People keep mentioning Sony’s higher price as against the Kindle, they fail to realize the Sony has a touch screen and also allows the use of the included stylus in annotating and even drawing etc as well as being able to translate words from English to several European languages. There’s also a zoom feature and it’s made of a sleek looking aluminum as against a plastic chassis of the Kindle. So you really can’t expect the same price with all these extra features. While most readers are dropping prices, Sony has chosen to up the quality and I guess it would be the higher end of ereaders which some people would go for. If you think about it, 80 dollars more is really not that much considering you get a touchscreen and will be using it for years.

  • You`re welcome.
    Readers look great but I think they`re overpriced Sony.
    Still leaning towards a Kindle but giving you time to rethink your pricing.

  • Typo?

    “Apart from the sizing differences (the Touch features a 7 inch display whilst the Pocket sports a 5 incher)”

    The PRS 650 has a 6 inch display

    The PRS 950 to be released later has a 7 inch display

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