Sony makes some of the best ebook readers, and they've earned several firsts: they made the first mainstream US E Ink ebook reader in 2006, and they were the first to employ IR touch technology that didn't interfere with display quality or drive up prices significantly. So why don't they own the market? Until recently, Sony specialized in high end consumer electronics with matching high price tags, and their readers were no exception. When Amazon entered the market, they were willing to sell their ereaders near or at a loss in order to dominate the market and sell more ebooks (they were the largest bookseller in print books wanted to do the same with ebooks). Amazon's easy to use ebookstore and their low prices eclipsed Sony, so the first to market didn't translate into having the largest marketshare 5 years later. It's 2011 now, and Sony has learned a few important lessons. Their latest reader is fairly competitively priced, and it has WiFi with easy access to not just Sony's ebookstore but the public library and Google books.
The Sony Reader WiFi has a 6" Pearl E-Ink display with IR touch that's very responsive. As with last generation Sony ereaders, they include a stylus for making notes, highlights and diagrams, and there's a dedicated notes application in addition to book annotation features. The reader weighs just 5.9 ounces (a tenth of an ounce lighter than the Kindle 4), and it fits easily into a bag, roomy pocket or purse. As the name implies, it has WiFi 802.11b/g/n but there's no 3G option. You can download books using the on-device bookstore and you can use the web browser to download books from other sources like the public library. The Sony has a basic MP3 player, a microSD card slot and 1.3 gigs of usable internal storage. It's compatible with ePUB and PDFs with and without Adobe Adept DRM, but it's not compatible with B&N Nook books that use a different form of Adobe DRM, and it's not compatible with Kindle books (only Kindles and Kindle apps are compatible with Kindle books). The PRS-T1 is compatible with public library books, Google books, Kobo books and others that use standard Adobe Adept DRM.
The Sony Reader is available in black, red and white. It has a gloss front bezel and a soft touch matte back. There are hardware buttons for page turns, home, back and menu.
This is our lightening review and video review. In the coming week we'll update this page with our full written review.
Display: 6" Pearl E Ink display with IR touch sensors. 16 level grayscale display. Comes with a stylus and you can use your finger.
CPU: ARM Cortex A8 family CPU, likely clocked at 800MHz.
Storage: 1.3 gigs available internal storage.
Expansion: microSD card slot, compatible with cards up to 32 gigs.
Size: 6 7/8 x 4 3/8 x 3/8 inch. Weight: 5.9 ounces.
Battery: rechargeable Lithium Ion battery (not user replaceable). Claimed use time: over a month with WiFi off and 3-4 weeks with WiFi on. Up to 14,000 continuous page turns. Charges over USB, wall charger sold separately.
Desktop software: Windows and Mac OS X. It is not necessary to use the desktop software.