Sony has two new ebook readers: Pocket or PRS-300 and Touch or PRS-600. Names can get so confusing. I’ll be focusing on the Touch, or PRS-600, which has a 6-inch electronic paper display. The Touch is so named because you can actually touch it. The touch technology used is resistive so the display depresses a bit when you’re using the stylus. One thing right off the bat:
Resistive It is old technology. Sure there are some companies that are reinventing resistive technology to do some amazing things, but the real touch technology is capacitive, the touch technology on the iPod touch and iPhone. Capacitive is smooth as silk; resistive is not as smooth as far as I know.
Design As far as product design goes, the Touch looks quite nice. I’m not too fond of this particular color for an ebook reader (white or off-white looks best in my opinion) but it doesn’t look too bad. Other colors include black and silver. Guess I’m out of luck. The UI or user interface looks a bit better compared to the last version where you had a dozen buttons to choose from.
No WiFi Sigh. When will Sony really get this ebook reader business? No WiFi connectivity. What a shame! 3G connectivity? Not a chance! A USB 2.0 connection is what you’ll need to sync your ebooks from the PC (and Mac!) to the PRS-600. You can also use a Memory Stick or a SD card. Because there is a 3G-toting Kindle to compare this to, the non-connecting PRS-600’s success seems to be already quite limited.
US$299 The price is pretty decent but think of it this way: what are you really buying? An ebook reader is as good as the store that it can buy from. If you want to load just public domain books, then the best thing to do is to get the cheapest ebook reader. But a lot of Kindle users actually buy books from Amazon. Sony has announced that it will slash the price of bestsellers from $11.99 to $9.99–a good thing, but you still need to first buy it from your PC or Mac and then sync it. Back-assed, in my opinion. Sony’s ebook store versus Amazon. A touch-enabled PRS-600 versus the 3G-connected Kindle. The choice isn’t as easy as before since the Kindle lacks touch capability but still Kindle connected to combined with the world’s largest online bookstore is hard to beat.