Sony PRS-T3 Reader Review
Sep
13

Sony PRS-T3 Reader Review

By

sony t3

Sony will be officially releasing their new 3rd generation T3 e-Reader next week in the US, Canada and overseas. The overall build quality mirrors the previous iterations of the hardware and most of the differences are software related. With minor tweaks and updates, how does this e-Reader stack up against the competition?

Hardware

hardware

The Sony PRS-T3 features a six inch e-ink Pearl display screen with a resolution of 1024×768. This is not quite as fancy as some of the new devices hitting the market in the next few weeks and seems to be using outdated technology from last year. It also is lacking the front-lit display that allows you to read in the dark. Instead, Sony has covers that have a built in reading light and will retail for $60.00 when they are released at the end of October.

Sony made a very odd design choice with the new sleep covers and other cover accessories. If you device to remove the cover you will have the battery, SD Card and other ribbons poking you from the back. Sony basically has mandated that you must always have a cover on the device. It does not have the same backing as every single e-reader on the market.

Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ Freescale processor and 512 MB of RAM. Sony says that the built in memory is 2 GB, but when you take it out of the box for the first time, you only have a paltry 1.2 GB of storage space. If you are a voracious reader, you must invest in an SD Card.

As e-Readers have processed over the years, most have scrapped physical buttons to go with capacitive touchscreen displays. Tablets also have followed suite and all common functions are accomplished with software. Sony has buckled the trend by sticking with the page turn, home and settings buttons. This allows you to simply hold the device with one hand and are able to turn the pages, quickly and easily.

This device as built in WIFI, that will allow you to connect up to the Sony Reader Store and surf the internet. The built in web-browser is actually very solid and has three complete pages of settings and options. You can disable Javascript, popups and even strip away all images. This is useful for blogs that are image heavy and will insure quick loading times. You will have three months of battery life if you read a few books a month.

The hardware basically mirrors the Sony PRS-2 and there are really no differences in the overall aesthetics. If you have had a prior model, you know what you are getting yourself into. The main allure of the T3 is the software.

Software

software

The Sony PRS-T3 is running on Google Android, which maintains the same theme as their entire modern line of e-readers. Nook is the only only mainstream brand that has their OS, much to the enjoyment of hackers who like to root their devices.

If you like to take notes and make quick annotations the T3 is the right e-reader for you. You can use an official Sony Stylus to augment any type of eBook, whether it is a PDF or EPUB. Any changes you make will be saved to your device, but you cannot export the books with all of your notes. Sony has always had deadly support for handwriting and note taking. The one drawback, is unlike previous models, this does not come with at Stylus. Instead, you must buy one from Sony and they normally cost $20.00.

There are a few key software features that make the T3 stand out from the competition. The first is Evernote, which allows you to connect up your account and sync notes, books and text changes directly to your account. The second main element is an Overdrive shortcut, that takes you to the Sony website with a stripped down version of the digital library lending service. You simply just need a library card and your four digit pin code, and you can select your library. Anything you borrow, you can read directly on your Sony e-Reader, and they are the only company that has a longstanding relationship with Overdrive.

The one thing that made me dig this e-reader was a very small factor, but is very unique. Most e-Readers if you are connected to WIFI have a timeout. This preservers your battery life, but automatically shutting off the internet. Kobo Readers are notorious for doing this and if you need to connect to a website, it often takes a good three minutes for everything to reinitialize. Sony has a cool option to let you disable the timeout.

e-Reading Experience

readubg

The PRS-T3 has a dedicated homescreen that lists the four last books you have purchased or open. At the very top is the book you are currently reading and displays the page you are on. The main menu is simply designed and a bit elegant. Kindle e-Readers often have links to books you can buy, directly on your main page, which can be dis concerning to always be prompted to buy something else.

You basically buy this e-Reader for EPUB, PDF and FB2 files, it supports little else. Still, you can buy books from other websites and load them directly on it with Adobe Digital Editions.

The overall reading experience lacks when you stack up the T3 head to head against the Kobo Aura or even the Kindle Paperwhite. Text seems to be a little dim, also there are plenty of advanced options to adjust There are a very options that you change the darkness of the text and background. None seem to really make a huge difference, might may offset the glare from the reading light.

There are nine different font sizes and when you select one, it updates live. This means the text changes in real time and provides the reader with an indication on any changes you make. There is seven different font types, but you would be hard pressed to really know what they do, without trying them out. I mean, when is the last time anyone used “Really No. 2″ or “Frutiger Neue” or even “Univers Next”? I have used over a hundred e-Readers and have never seen such a woeful attempt to not license any official fonts.

There are eight different dictionaries that are loaded on the T3 by default, but will really differ depending on what region you bought it from. The Canadian edition has different versions of French, English and Spanish. If you don’t know what a word is, you can long-press on it and select the dictionary you want to use.

The T3 does not have an accelerometer or gyroscope. Instead, if you want to get out of the standard portrait mode, you can hit a settings button and visit landscape. This may suit different types of media better, such as newspapers, magazines or graphic novels.

The PDF experience allows you to re-flow the text with settings options. You have to really go through a series of trial and error configuring, until you find that sweet spot. You can also pinch and zoom to more quickly find the perfect viewing perspective. When you are in the process of zooming a small notification area appears, that gives you a sense on where you are within the document. It pales in comparison to Kobo’s options that actually lists text and images in in the preview pane, instead the Sony just has white on black. Once you find your ideal prospective you can use the page turn keys to flip a page and maintain your settings. You cannot use touchscreen swiping and gesturing to turn a PDF page, if you are zoomed in.

Wrap up

final
The Sony PRS-T3 really feels like the company isn’t even trying anymore. They are using hardware internals that e-Readers in early 2012 were using and haven’t really updated it in any significant way. Considering the new Nook, Paperwhite and Kobo Aura are using cutting edge technology, this feels sluggish in comparison.

Sony used to have the BEST PDF support in the business for many years, but have quickly become a distant number three. They haven’t been able to solve the refresh issues with constantly turning pages or zooming in. This is mainly because they failed to use e-Ink Regal technology, which drastically reduces “ghosting” and refreshes.

You should buy this device if you have a panache for using a stylus and taking notes. The T3 really shines when you are drawing or just drawing arrows and diagrams. I can see this being very useful for people who need to augment technical PDF files or for school. This reader is also perfect who just want to read and don’t need a ton of distractions with games, lights and all the other gobbledegook. If its your first e-Reader, it is a solid investment.

If you are a fiendish reader and looking for a hot new item to really use as your main digital book reading device, I would go with something else. Turning it on for the first time and using it for a few hours, just felt like a dated unit. A few days of using it, and I long for the Aura, which is superior in every way.

PROS

Solid Stylus Support
Internet Experience is great
Physical buttons
PDF options

CONS

Outdated Hardware
Faded text and weird font options
$60 for a lighted case?
If you remove the sleep cover, it back internals jab at your hands

Rating: 6.5/10


Michael Kozlowski (4065 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com


  • André

    The saga with the prs e-readers continue… No stylus, no lighted cover, no really good improvements… If I were to buy a prs, I probably would by a prs-t1.
    I sincerely hope that they do everything right with the upcoming 13.3” digital paper.

  • packoffour

    I bought a PRS t1 and have used it to read more than 100 library books. When I found out that the prs t2 does not have audio, the prs t1 were no where to be found in the US. It is now available on the Sony Canadian website as a refurbish item, but called Sony and they said they cannot ship to the US.

  • rkmr

    i wanted to know that do you know anything about the release of sony 13.3 inch ereader.i really want one.AND i would like to give you a suggestion for the 13.3 inch ereader for improvement,if you could pass this on to sony it would be really greatful-(if they could add bluetooth or something like that so that external keyboards can be connected and we can do all the programming or coding stuff on an ereader rather than a pc.i guess would be great for college students)
    thanks
    pls reply

  • Jason

    Oh, Sony. What were you thinking?

  • rkmr

    if you could please help me on this-i want to buy small ereader till sony 13.3 arrives which is the best ereader to read pdf if i reflow it on pc -(kobo aura hd-as has a large screen, kobo aura 6′ or sony prs t3)
    will appreciate your response
    thanks
    pls reply

  • Michael Kozlowski

    i recommend the aura

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I would like to know this as well! it would be cool if they covered different kind of snap backs, and did not lock customers into having a case.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    There is no word, Sony, the Japanese Schools, eInk, no one will talk about it.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    you can check out shopereaders.com

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I Agree, the 13.3 seemed like a fairly polished product. I think it would just be aimed at schools, i remain doubtful if it will ever see a wide release.

  • rkmr

    I just saw kindle dx price it’s reduced to 239 dollars . so should I buy dx or aura for technical PDFs?
    Pls reply
    Thanks for your responses
    I m really gratful

  • Bob Swindle

    You don’t really need to buy a dedicated stylus pen for handwriting. Just any pointing object can be used and it does the job right. If you are mentioning an extra $20 expense you really do not need, then it should be fair to say that Sony reader comes with a cover worht $20. What do you think?

  • Richard Croy

    You might not recognise the fonts, but your comments about them, including that they are not officially licensed, are just incorrect assumptions you made up! All of the fonts, with the exception of Verdana, are ‘official’ fonts that can be licensed from Linotype. Verdana is from Microsoft. Frutiger and Univers are fonts by Adrian Frugiter. Palatino is by Herman Zapf. Really No 2 (Linotype) was probably chosen for its strong support of Cryllic, Greek and Latin scripts.

    I like your work Michael, but shouldn’t you do a bit more research before you post writing like that?

  • André

    Thanks for the reply and sorry for the off-topic.
    I thought it would be released this fall (at max, in october), because school time is just begining. Seems I was wrong. I just hope they release it this year, at least. Even if it isn’t a wide release.

  • celticgirl

    Forget the Kindle DX. You cannot annotate or highlight text. I’ve been waiting for a bigger screen for peer reviewed journal articles, PDFs, etc. I was ready to go with Onyxboox M92, but am waiting…..

  • celticgirl

    I don’t understand why the release is just aimed at schools. Many people have been looking for this for a long time.

  • Rowena

    Bit worried by this review, my prs t2 is dying & have been awaiting this release quite keenly, as Sony has been the only ereader who make organising books by series easy – had to return both a kindle & nook as it was a nightmare trying to organise my books by reading series. This is not something ever mentioned in reviews but for me, with 000′s of books, I find it an essential feature to get my reading order right! Is this still available on the Sony, or should I be researching a Kobo – I heard this is the only other ereader that does this bearably with Calibre?

  • Nevertheless

    This is a very superficial review. Some of the people before have already pointed out many of its flaws.

    1. Yes, the fonts are among the commonest ever, plus in the list they are already listed in their actual outlook.

    2. No need for a dedicated stylus. I actually lost mine for my T2 and I am using a little paintbrush on either side (the brush side makes a gentler browsing.

    3. Sony still has the best rendering of PDF files. It’s enough to enlarge the font and you will get a smooth reflow. Annotations and word look-up are however visibly slower on PDFs.

    4. Who care about ghosting? If you’re really immersed in what you are reading you will never notice it. I would be hard pressed to tell when does my ereader black out..

    5. Do you have lamps in your home? You know, bedstand lamps, desktop lamps, like anyone reading physical books would have? If you have these you do not need front-lit devices. This is my case. I don’t read in badly lit places (subway or back alleys..) –this has helped me to keep my eyes sharp. I have always used strong, well focused lamps fro reading. The result? I still don’t need glasses even if I’m over 50.

    Where SONY need to grow is in the annotations department. Searching among one’s many annotations produces non-permanent results. So the search has to be repeated many times. One cannot sore one’s annotations (Example: I read a volume of shortstories and I grade them on a 1 to 10 scale. Why can’t I list them in an ascending order of their grades..?)

    Nevertheless

  • Nevertheless

    correction: “one cannot SORT one’s anotations”

  • Nevertheless

    Another useless comment you made: “You don’t need to use CROPPPING.”

    I beg to differ. You may need cropping nore frequently than you think.
    Many ebooks might badly formatted. For some reasons, some have margins that are too large (maybe emulating physical books?). As I don’t like these, and I want to maximize my text, I find myself frequently using the MANUAL CROP function to get rid of those ungainly margins.

    Nevetheless

  • packoffour

    Not available.

  • Qba

    Just bought Aura HD for PDFs and I am disappointed :

    - no annotations in PDFs,

    - no highlighting so no translation from text (uness you like to retype text to be translated which is cumbersome)

    - clipped display of PDFs when not zoomed,

    - no memory for zoom level (if you get to your favorite size , lets say 143% its easilly resets and you have to readjust zoom which is cumbersome)

  • Jonathan

    he he, that’s Japan for you, everything is a state secret. Maybe it’s not going so well, replacing paper reference books as an interface is a tall order.

  • Jonathan

    I took the plunge and bought the PRS-T3, that was after I tried a Kobo Aura HD. As others have mentioned, Sony still delivers the best PDF reflow experience and hardware reliability, which is why I bought it.

    E-ink doesn’t need a massive amount of assistance for low light readability, just a small push. The light layers used on other devices do reduce contrast, but it’s up to you whether it bothers you or not.

    Biggest problem I have with the Sony are the choice of fonts, which are not heavy enough for an e-ink screen. I have loaded Caecilia and it has transformed the readability, but requires processing each e-book before it’s loaded onto the device.

    The PRS-T3S is the same reader but without the built in cover. It’s cheaper.

    So what upgrades can we expect from Sony next year, a Carta screen perhaps?

  • cobe123.wordpress.com

    1 GHZ Freescale processor and 512 MB of RAM ? are you sure ? how can i get the info from the reader ?

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