Sony have released e-readers that suit many different users, all of the readers that Sony currently have on the market are touchscreen readers with a high contrast eInk pearl screen.
The new model (Reader Wi-Fi) ditches the sleek aluminum build for plastic -- a change that has annoyed some fans of the old devices. What used to set Sony apart from its competitors is the sophisticated design used on the range featuring an aluminium bodice rather than the plastic seen in a majority of readers. But not anymore.
The new generation reader (PRS-T1) has merged all three lines into a single model now. The old models now longer produced are the Sony Pocket Edition (PRS-350), The Sony Touch Edition (PRS-650) and The Sony Daily Edition (PRS 950).
The Sony have been developing the PRS range over a long period of time and each new version presents a more advanced and fine-tuned reader than the previous. In general the Sony readers are accepted by the users as they are well designed readers with good solid functions and more support for open formats than the Kindle or Nook readers.
The customer service at Sony has a very good reputation therefore problems can be sorted fairly easy if help cannot be found on many of the online support forums, which is an unlikely occurrence due to the Sony being a very popular reader.
The readers produced by Sony are good quality, there is no doubt about this; user reports includes positive feedback on the high quality technology used within the readers and the high quality resources used to construct the device, making the Sony range well known for their excellent quality. The major complaint with the Sony reader range is the price of the devices. With the current Reader Wi-Fi being around $120 RRP, Sony’s devices are competative with the Kindle offerings by Amazon.
The major complaint used to be that the Sony readers were twice the price of the Kindles and Nooks, but the new generation of Sony readers are about the same cost of a Kindle 4 or Nook.
The 650 and the 350 don't offer any sort of Wi-Fi connectivity or 3G support. The Sony 950 Daily Edition does, however.
Sony PRS-T1 (Sony Reader Wi-Fi)
This is the newest Sony reader. Gone is the aluminum body, replaced by plastic. Also gone is the steep price; the new reader is under $120 dollars, compared to the nearly $300 the older models used to cost.
Read our Sony PRS-T1 review.
Sony PRS 950 (Sony Daily Edition)
The Sony PRS 950 is also known as the Sony Daily Edition, this is the reader that is the top of the range by Sony, and unlike any of the other readers in their range the PRS 950 offers Wi-Fi connectivity allowing the user to download books straight to the device. The basic built-in web browser on the reader also allows the user to browse the web at their leisure. The Sony PRS 950 also has the 3G feature, meaning that access to the internet can be gained most of the time giving the user ultimate freedom.
The major benefit of the Sony Daily Edition is that unlike the other readers in the PRS range there is the feature of wireless connectivity meaning that the device is much more portable and also allows for the exclusion of a computer as a necessity if a charger for the mains is bought which opens the reader up to a whole new market.
Many Sony Reader fans regard the Sony PRS 950 as "the best" sony reader. And there's a lot of truth to that, considering that this reader offers a 7" screen (only ebook reader on the market to offer this), Wi-Fi, 3G, ability to read PDF's on the screen without scrolling, and more support for open formats than the Kindle readers. It's also the most expensive of the bunch at over $300 dollars.
Read Our Sony PRS 950 Review
Sony PRS 650 (Sony Touch Edition)
The Sony PRS 650 is also known as the Sony Touch Edition, featuring a 6” eInk screen with a touch screen interface. The 650 is the newest edition of the touch which is much smaller than has been seen in the past making the PRS 650 perfect for transport weighing in at only 7.5 ounces. The PRS 650 has faster page turns than its predecessor (PRS 600) and also has a larger internal memory, now holding up to 2GB of data on the device, that’s hundreds of books! The touch edition also has 12 dictionaries meaning that the user can hold full confidence in the reader to deliver the users literate requirements. Unfortunately there is no wireless on the touch edition, however this can be found on the daily edition for users who need this feature.
The touch screen on the PRS 650 (and other current models) is top of the range infrared technology, as in previous models a touch screen layer over the screen was used however this caused problems with the screens performance.
Although the touch screen is not a unique feature amongst the Sony readers now the PRS 650 offers a device that is slightly more advanced than the PRS 350 with music playback but without some features such as Wi-Fi, cutting the price slightly and making the reader suit users who only wish to read and playback music.
Read the Sony PRS 650 Review
PRS 350 (Sony Pocket Edition)
The Sony PRS 350 is also known as the Sony Pocket Edition due to its slightly smaller 5” display, the major advantage of the pocket edition is the portability that comes with the smaller screen. The PRS 350 is the most up to date model of the pocket edition and, like all the other readers released by Sony, uses a completely touch interface. The Sony PRS 350 is the lightest reader ever released by Sony weighing in at only 5.5 ounces, making the pocket edition the perfect companion for a user that will be carrying the reader around with them on a regular basis. Unlike the other reader ranges by Sony the PRS 350 is much more book orientated, eliminating the feature of audio playback.
The main benefit of the PRS 350 is that it is lightweight, small and portable and can easily be fit into a handbag or a pocket making the PRS 350 the perfect companion for daytime use. Not only this but this reader is particularly popular amongst older users as its lightweight and is therefore not strenuous to hold for long periods of time.
The PRS 350, 650, and 950 are the current models on the market by Sony (featured above) however there were other models previous to these which have now been discontinued, these are listed below. The main features that Sony has changed throughout the years are the support for audio playback and the amount of memory on the device, both internal and expandable. There is also the inclusion of a touch screen interface in all of the readers rather than just the touch and the daily edition.
Read the Sony PRS 350 Review
PRS-900 (The Sony Daily Edition)
7” eInk display, Touch screen interface, Wireless Connectivity through both 3G and Wi-Fi, Up to two weeks battery life. Only available in black, the reader is not available on the Sony store anymore but can be found on some online market places such as eBay, at a slightly lower price than the newer model. The main complaint with this model (and to the same degree, the PRS 600 series), is that the screen has a bluish tint that affects the clarity of the text. This is caused by the extra touch screen layer above the text. The Sony PRS 650 and 950 newer models fixed this problem and don't have this extra "screen" layer that causes the tint.
PRS-600 (The Sony Touch Edition)
Touch Screen due to a touch layer over the screen which was known to cause a reflection, counteracting the features of the eInk display used on the device. 6” screen, 8 shade grey scale. Available in black, silver and red allowing the user to have a more personal choice for their reader. The PRS 600 is not for sale anymore due to reflection on the screen which made reading on the device hard for users. This was due to the touch screen operating on a touch layer that was placed over the screen.
PRS-300 (The Sony Pocket Edition)
Retailed at $150, 5” eInk display, 8 shade grey scale, Unlike newer models within the Sony range the PRS 300 does not have a touch screen interface and is the entry level reader, 440MB user accessible memory, no SD card slots. This device is very basic and was purely designed for the purpose of reading books. In terms of memory the 440MB would store a couple of hundred eBooks and is therefore an acceptable size as the reader does not have support for audio and therefore would not be holding particularly large files.
6” eInk display, touch screen interface, note taking and on screen keyboard, page turning buttons, page turns can also be made by a motion on the touch screen, LED lighting, allowing the PRS 700 to be views in poor light conditions, internal memory of 512MB. Only available in black. The most interesting feature on this model was the inclusion of an LED light so that the user can read the device in poor lighting as due to the eInk display and the lack of a backlight the display can’t be read. The LED light was not a success as it was not bright enough for the user to be able to read without straining their eyes.
6” eInk display (Vizplex), 8 level grey scale, faster refresh time than the 500 model, also thinner measuring 8mm depth and larger internal memory, 256MB to be exact. Available in dark blue, silver, custom James Patterson special edition skin and sangria red, the large range of color choices was one of the most popular features on the PRS 505 and the general speed of the reader was much faster than its earlier model (PRS 500) and was therefore a very popular option for users.
6” eInk display, 13mm thick, 64MB internal memory, 4 level grey scale, Expandable memory, maximum of 4GB, Up to 7500 page turns on a single battery charge. One of the first readers with the (then new) e-Ink technology released, the PRS 500 is very basic, only allowing the support for eBooks. The battery life on the PRS 500 is probably the strongest point of the device, allowing the user to read an average of 10 books on a single charge, making the reader fairly reliable. No sort of fancy options introduced in later models like a Touch screen, wi-fi, or any of that. However, for a basic ebook reader with an e-ink screen, it's was great.
Books for the Device
Overall the supported formats on the Sony readers are diverse with all current models supporting the same formats (excluding audio formats on the PRS 350). Sony readers support both DRM free texts and DRM protected text meaning that books from a range of stores are compatible with the Sony readers. Any sort of EPUB formatted book will work on the device as will HTML, TXT, and RTF.
Sony not only has their own brand store with a range of titles, eBooks can also be found in stores such as Waterstones where the readers can also be purchased. Books purchased from Amazon and Barnes and Noble will not be compatible with the Sony readers. Books can be bought for the Sony range from the Sony Reader Library store (Which does not stock a large range of titles), Diesel eBooks, Books a million and Kobo, providing that the files you are purchasing are ePUB or PDF and not mobi/kindle formats.
The one problem with the Sony devices in supporting open books is that they have not made it clear to their consumers that the mobi file which kindle uses in the majority of their eBooks will not be supported on the readers, therefore it is important to check exactly what the format of any book is before you it is purchased.
The Sony readers also support PDF files therefore many textbooks, say for educational use can be viewed on the readers, yet again it is still important to check the format of the purchase with the supported formats on the device.
The Sony range offers a large selection of accessories for the readers which can be found in many stores other than the Sony store. The Sony store offers users cases and chargers. The cases seen on the Sony store are fairly varied with styles such as zipper cases and cases with built in lights. In terms of chargers, Sony offers an AC charger so that the devices can be charged from any mains outlet. The online store Amazon also offers a range of accessories for the Sony PRS range, this yet again includes cases, lights and power adaptors to charge the device although Amazon have a greater range of colors available.
Like all ebook readers, a case and a light for night reading are pretty much "must have" accessories -- both which are available by Sony.
The accessories offered for the Sony are fairly basic however they are all good quality, for example most of the cases are real leather and are therefore aesthetically pleasing and good quality. They are much sleeker looking than say the Kindle 3 cases by Amazon. Other accessories that can be purchased in conjunction with the Sony readers PRS 650 and PRS 950 are headphones as both of the readers have audio playback but Sony do not provide headphones with the device, so this is something to consider buying before the reader arrives.