Phone, Smartphone, Notebook and Gadget Reviews and buyers guide
Phone Notebooks & Tablets Gaming Gadgets iPhone & iPad Shop Forum


Home > eBook Reader Reviews > Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900


Sony Reader Daily Edition

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star
Discuss this product
Where to Buy

What's hot: Wireless 3G shopping and delivery of books and periodicals, larger touch screen.

What's not: Price is currently higher than the competiton (though it offers more features).


Reviewed January 5, 2010 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

Sony is the oldest player in the still young ebook reader market. Their first reader, the PRS-500 came out in 2006 and it featured the same Vizplex e-ink screen technology still used today by Sony, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and others. Amazon entered the game at the end of 2007 with their first generation Kindle and it upped the ante with a wireless connection for book shopping, periodical delivery and very (very!) rudimentary web browsing. Sony was slow to add wireless, instead focusing on adding a touch screen feature. That proved no easy task since e-ink displays don't support touch screens nor can they be backlit. Sony released the short-lived PRS-700 which added a less than sharp touch screen layer and side-lights for those who read in bed, dark closets and caves. By 2009 we started to wonder if Sony was living in a cave-- the world might not want the ugly, you can't try before you buy Kindle 1 but a significant segment wanted wireless. Not to mention the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX came out and they were certainly not ugly. In August 2009 Sony released the Sony Reader Touch Edition, washing away the murky-screened sins of the PRS-700. And they let the cat out of the 3G bag: wireless was finally coming in December 2009. So here we are with the Sony Reader Daily Edition, an ebook reader that's basically a slightly larger-screened Touch Edition with wireless courtesy of AT&T 3G HSDPA. FINALLY!

Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 ebook reader

The Sony Daily Edition PRS-900 has a 7.1" e-ink display (the Kindle 2, Barnes and Noble Nook and Sony Touch Edition PRS-600 have 6" displays) that runs at 600 x 1024 resolution (vs. 600 x 800 on the 6" screens). It supports 16 shades of gray which doesn't affect text significantly but makes for better looking grayscale graphics (book covers and PDF illustrations) compared to readers with 4 or 8 shades of gray. The Daily Edition is the same width as the 6" Touch Edition but the height has increased. We like this design because the Daily Edition is still very portable and it's much easier to read shorter lines without losing your place. In contrast, the Kindle DX with its 9.7" display is not terribly portable and the longer lines do make for harder reading, especially in landscape mode. The Daily Edition works in both portrait and landscape orientations, but unlike the Kindle DX it doesn't have an accelerometer; instead you'll use a button to charge orientation. To deal with the challenges of long line length in landscape mode, Sony added a two-page per screen view that looks like a traditional print book opened up. It is indeed easy to read and the resemblance to printed books may be a comfort for those just getting started with ebook readers.

Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 ebook reader

The PRS-900 released at $399, making it more expensive than the competition. In part, the 900's higher price tag has to do with the nice collection of accessories included: a charger, USB cable, leather flip cover and a separately packaged Case Logic semi-rigid zipper case. The Case Logic case is quite nice and is sturdy enough to keep the reader safe in a backpack and perhaps even a suitcase, but we wouldn't be surprised if Sony sells a version without the bundled case at some point to bring down the price. Given the weak world economy, bundled accessories are the first to go in order to bring down prices in a competitive market.


Deals and Shopping:


The Daily Edition supports ePUB and PDF files with and without Adobe standard DRM (Adobe Digital Editions). Digital books in ePUB format are quickly becoming a open standard (not manufacturer-dependant or proprietary) that's used by public libraries, Google for their public domain books and several online bookstores. In addition it supports Sony's original BBeB format but only for non-DRM books. If you've already bought books in their older format, you can download them again in ePUB for free via the Sony ebookstore. The ereader also handles text files, rich text (RTF) and Word documents (you must use the Sony desktop software to convert Word docs first though).

Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 ebook reader

It has a music player and 3.5mm stereo jack and it can play MP3 and AAC files without DRM in the background while you read. Other applications include handwriting and notes. You can use the on screen keyboard to take notes, and you can draw, scribble and annotate pages in books with written notes and highlighting using the stylus that lives in a silo in the Sony Reader. These notes sync to the Sony desktop software and work much the same as the Sony Reader Touch Edition. The Oxford American and English dictionaries are on board and you can access these in-line when reading or just use the dictionary itself via an icon in the applications tab.

An Intro for Newbies, Sony Reader Vets and Kindle Users

If you're new to ereaders, here's a quick rundown of the technology: their biggest selling points are portability, extremely long battery life and that they're much easier on the eyes than computer and smartphone screens. E-ink readers like the Sony use very little power and with wireless off they can last up to 2 weeks on a charge. That's because they only use power to re-draw new pages and don't use any power to display a page. They are extremely readable and look something like a real book with light gray rather than white pages-- they don't look like a computer screen. They're much easier on the eyes because there's no overly bright backlighting, no constant screen refresh and little glare. Unlike many smartphone, PDA and tablet screens, they're highly viewable outdoors in sunlight (great for beach and backyard reading). There is no backlight, and that means just as with a print book, you'll need ambient light or a book light to read. Sony's touch screen readers maximize screen real estate relative to device size because they use on-screen keyboards rather than the hardware keyboard on the Kindle and the separate color LCD touch panel on the Nook.

If you're an old hand at ereaders and own an older Sony Reader, this is business as usual with one caveat: the Sony online bookstore original ebook format, BBeB or .lrx support is gone. The PRS-900 doesn't support DRM lrx files though it still supports the non-DRM .lrf version. They've recently switched over to the more open ePUB standard and you can re-download any books you'd purchased in lrf format in ePUB (free of charge). You can download the books using the Sony desktop software for Windows and Mac or download them directly to the Reader using its wireless connection. There is no charge for using the wireless connection. Full justification fans: the PRS-900 gets it right. If a book is produced with full justification, it will display that way on the Reader (no ragged right margin).

If you've been using a Kindle or other brand of reader, the Sony's attractions include a touch screen with on-screen keyboard and support for more open standards (ePUB and PDF). That means you can download and read books from your library if they offer digital services. You can also read books from Google's million public domain classics, but you must load these using the desktop software or a storage card since there's currently no way to download these directly using the Reader's wireless connection. The Sony has both an SD and Memory Stick Pro Duo slot so you can load books that way (the Kindle 2 and DX have no card slots to load books and expand storage). While the Kindle ships configured to use your Amazon account, you must enter your account information or create a new account using the Sony Reader or its desktop software before you can buy books. That makes it easier to give as a gift but adds one more step for those who want the absolute simplest way to get going. Unlike the Kindle, you don't have to use one-click buying: you can turn on cart-based shopping which helps prevent accidental purchases. While Kindle ereaders use Sprint 3G, the Sony uses AT&T 3G. The Sony Daily Edition doesn't have the Kindle's basic web browser, so that wireless connection is just for shopping, downloading books and periodicals.

The Daily

Sony calls this the Daily Edition Reader because you can subscribe to newspapers and magazines, just as with the Kindle. Sony is still adding publications but they've announced a good list of papers including the Wall Street Journal (enhanced edition), The LA Times, the New York Times and quite a few smaller local papers. If you leave wireless on in standby mode, the PRS-900 will automatically download your new subscriptions, so they'll be waiting for you each morning. The prices are the same as Amazon's, but the layout is more attractive than the Kindle's with a front page presentation that has several graphics and article links rather than Amazon's standard single article presentation.

Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 ebook reader

The Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600 and the Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900.




Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 ebook reader

The Sony Reader Daily Edition and the Amazon Kindle DX.



Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 ebook reader

The home screen shows the latest periodical delivered up top.
Icons are large and finger-friendly so there's no need for the stylus unless you writing notes and annotations.

The Video Review, and the Glare

Here's our 13.5 minute video review where we cover the design, comparisons to the PRS-600 and Kindle DX, show the store interface for shopping, the new home screen, PDFs, newspapers and lots more. Yes, like the PRS-600, the PRS-900 has more glare than a non-touchscreen device but it's nothing like the unappealing PRS-700 and it's slightly better than the PRS-600. Our video lights make the glare look worse, and the camera isn't at the viewing angle you'd be when reading, which adds to the glare. That said, if you didn't like the PRS-600 Touch Edition Reader's display, you likely won't enjoy the PRS-900. To our eyes, the glare isn't bad at all-- it's nothing like a notebook screen or the PRS-700, and it's worth it for the immense usability improvements the touch screen adds. Clarity is good with none of the murkiness of the PRS-700 but contrast isn't quite as high as the wonderful non-touch e-ink Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300 and the Kindle 2. The screen resists fingerprints mightily, and that's a good thing since no one wants to read through a smeared fog of finger goo.

The Store

The Daily Edition has direct access to Sony's digital ebook store, and that means you never have to use desktop software if you're buying books from Sony or are loading non-DRM books to an SD or Memory Stick Duo card. If you wish, you can also use their desktop software for Windows and Mac to purchase and transfer content to the Reader. If you want to download library books, you'll need to use the desktop software that works in conjunction with Adobe Digital Editions to handle DRM. Library books are a joy: no need to drive to and from the library and there are no overdue fees. The book expires, typically after 14 days. If you wish, you can check the book out again and you can return it early if you're done reading it before it's due back. I'd been using my PRS-600 with the Mac desktop software to download library books and I didn't have to do anything with Adobe Digital Editions when I added the PRS-900: the desktop software automatically authorized the 900 to my existing Adobe account.

The on-device store is intuitive and easy to use-- watch our video review to see it in action. The PRS-900 has a tabbed home screen and the store uses one of the four tabs. While neither the Kindle nor the 900 load the store super-quickly, the Sony was a bit faster in our tests though the wireless network can be a factor. Once the store is loaded and you've been logged in, viewing books and loading new store pages is quite quick (assuming you have a passable 3G connection). AT&T coverage is good in our area, as is Sprint's which is used on the Kindle, but we found that the Sony managed a stronger signal (we compare signal with phones from the same carrier) and has more aggressive power management to improve battery life.

If you want to get a taste of the store, you can visit Sony's web browser version here: Thanks to pressure from Amazon, many best sellers are $9.99, but those not on the bestseller list are sometimes $1 to $3 more expensive than Amazon. For most popular books, Amazon and Sony have a similar selection, though Amazon still offers more books overall. That said, I've found that the books I'm interested in are available at both sites since publishers usually release in several formats at once. But I suggest you visit Sony's online bookstore with your web browser, so you can see if the titles and prices suit you.

Since the Sony uses standard ePUB with Adobe DRM, you can purchase ebooks from other sources like Books On Board and (formerly You can't use books sold by Amazon for the Kindle because Amazon uses a proprietary format that doesn't work on competing ebook devices nor can you use Barnes and Noble books meant for the Nook because they don't use standard Adobe DRM on their ePUBs. Alas, DRM is still a pain in the pants, just as it used to be for digital music downloads.

Downloading books over AT&T 3G is very quick and newspapers are even faster. By default the wireless connection is turned on, and it goes into standby after a few minutes of inactivity. You can still receive publications when the radio is on standby. That means your new publications will be waiting for you in the morning when you wake up, just as with the Kindle. We like Sony's status icon that lets you know signal strength and connection type and lets you know when the radio has gone into standby.

Battery Life

Oh happy day, the Sony PRS-900 has a removable battery under the back cover and it comes with a charger. Both are good ideas for a device with wireless since that means more frequent charging. The Reader ships with the battery out of the unit and the back cover removed. That's a good thing since it's quite hard to remove the back cover which is made of plastic with a faux-leather texture. While most Sony Readers are nearly all metal, the back cover has to be plastic to avoid interference with the wireless radio. The front bezel is metal and the included leather flip cover is removable but the connecting tabs are delicate so follow the instructions to avoid tearing them.

The Lithium Ion battery looks much like a cell phone battery and in our tests it's been good for 5 days on a charge with the wireless radio on. In my tests I read for at least 1.5 hours per day, had the Wall Street Journal auto-downloaded daily, perused the store for 15 minutes per day and downloaded 10 books over wireless. With the wireless radio turned off in settings, the reader should reach 1.5 to 2 weeks on a charge depending on how many hours (and page turns) you go through. The music player will shorten runtimes, but it's not a terribly power-hungry technology.

Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 ebook reader

The Sony Reader Store on the PRS-900 ebook reader.


Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 ebook reader


The Sony Reader Daily Edition is at the top of our favorite ebook reader list. The size and screen size make for a perfect combo of portability and reading pleasure, the wireless works well and we really enjoyed the Sony ebook store experience directly on the device. The Reader is attractive and it comes with all the goodies in the box so you won't be shelling out extra to get basic accessories. That said, the Sony PRS-900 is more expensive than the Kindle and Nook, and in this difficult economy, that puts the Sony at a disadvantage. Whether you prefer an on-screen or physical keyboard is a matter of taste, much as it is with smartphones. Thus we won't give the Kindle or Sony an advantage there, though we have one comment: removing the keyboard allows for a smaller reader. We'll take the Reader Daily Edition over the Nook any day since the Nook's color LCD doesn't really improve navigation and at times stands in the way of ease of use. We also don't like Barnes and Noble's use of proprietary DRM with ePUB, which is misleading for folks who think it's the usual, more open ePUB standard DRM. Book sellers should be in the business of selling as many books as possible rather than locking customers into a specific piece of hardware. Likewise, we're not thrilled with Amazon's proprietary ebook format and lack of ePUB support, much as we applaud the Kindle's brain-dead ease of use when it comes to buying books. Amazon is good at selling and it shows on the Kindle. But forget reading library books on the Kindle: no can do.

Pro: Excellent size to reading area ratio, and the PRS-900 is still very portable. Supports ePUB, PDF and Adobe DRM so it works with library books and Google free books among others. Attractive and sturdy design with a metal bezel. All the goodies are in the box, even the separately packaged zipper case. On-device bookstore experience is excellent and downloads are quick. Reliable daily delivery of periodicals in our tests, and the Sony has a strong wireless radio with good power management.

Con: More expensive than the competition. Sony's books sometimes cost more than Amazon's (check out and to see if they offer better pricing).


Price: $399 $249

Web Site:

Display: 7.1" Vizplex e-Ink. Resolution: 600 x 1024, supports portrait and landscape modes. 16 shades of gray.

Wireless: 3G HSDPA on AT&T (no charge for wireless use).

Size and weight: 5 x 8-1/8 x 19/31 inches. 12.75 ounces.

Supported ebook formats: ePUB (standard Adobe DRM), PDF (and standard Adobe DRM protected PDF), text, RTF and Word (Word docs require conversion using Sony desktop Reader software). Works with library books in ePUB and PDF format that use Adobe DRM (Adobe Digital Editions used by most libraries). Works with Google books (over a million free public domain ebooks). Works with non-DRM .lrf files but not DRM-protected .lrx files.

Music Player: Has a music player that supports MP3 and AAC files (not copy-protected) and has a 3.5mm stereo jack.

Storage: 2 gigs internal flash storage with approx. 1.6 gigs available.

Memory Expansion slots: 1 SDHC SD card slot and 1 Memory Stick Pro Duo slot.

Battery: Lithium Ion, user replaceable.

In the box: Reader, stylus, charger, USB cable, flip cover and bundled Case Logic semi-rigid zipper case.


All Phone Reviews
Smartphone Reviews
Android Phone Reviews
Windows Phone Reviews
HTC Phone Reviews
LG Phone Reviews
Motorola Phone Reviews
Nokia Phone Reviews
Samsung Phone Reviews
Sony Phone Reviews
AT&T Phone Reviews
Sprint Phone Reviews
T-Mobile Phone Reviews
Verizon Phone Reviews
Unlocked GSM Phone Reviews


All Tablet Reviews
Android Tablet Reviews
Tablet Comparisons
Android Tablet Comparisons



Laptop Reviews
Ultrabook Reviews
Laptop Comparisons
Best Ultrabooks



Bluetooth Headsets
iPhone and iPad Accessories
eBook Readers

iPhone Game Reviews
iPad Game Reviews

iPhone Case Reviews
iPad Case Reviews


RSS News Feed

About Us

Contact Us


Site Map