Sony is back to take on the Kindle juggernaut and for that, it has equipped itself with three e-readers. Though they are the same that Sony was selling for quite some time now, the e-readers have been thoroughly refurbished to make them competitive enough for the changed market dynamics. Or so thinks Sony, and the latest e-reader news indicates they have introduced touchscreen version of the same three e-readers along with some other tweaks to renew their battle for the number one selling e-reader brand.
Sony has switched to the ‘Pearl’ screen from E Ink that offers a much better contrast while ensuring that the touchscreen layer on top of it does not lead to a murky or cloudy sort of effect. Instead of the capacitive touchscreen (as is in vogue these days and can be seen on many a smartphone and tablet PCs) Sony has opted for the optical touchscreen. This results in a crisp, sharp display that offers a thoroughly enhanced reading experience. The only e-reader Sony had in its line-up that included a touchscreen interface was the PRS – 650 Touch Edition and this as well as the other two in their latest avatar are a generation ahead of its predecessor. Having optical touchscreen also ensures responsiveness to even little finger actions as well as stylus inputs.
So the baby of the lot, the Sony PRS-350 Pocket Edition, has also been endowed with the optical touchscreen, making it perhaps the smallest e-reader of repute to be so. However, what remains the same is the 5 inch screen and 2GB of internal memory along with an SD card slot that will let you stretch your storage options. However, the one other important thing that has remained unchanged is the price so that the PRS – 350 still starts at $179. That too without either WiFi or 3G.
“The bottom line is we didn’t want to compete on price.” “We wanted to build quality and overall experience. We want to give consumers the feel of buying an e-reader, not a toy,” is how Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading business division justified their move to keep price unchanged.
What this means is adding e-books to the Pocket Edition will require connecting it to the PC via an USB cable. Compare this to the WiFi only versions of the new Kindle that cost $139 while the Nook costs $149. Both the 3G enabled versions of the Kindle and the Nook are slightly more than the Sony Pocket Edition and it would be interesting to see which way consumer preference goes.
The Touch Edition with a 6 inch display has been priced at $229 and comes with a 2 GB onboard memory which can be jacked up to an additional 32 GB by way of the expansion slots. The Touch Edition is also capable of playing back audio files, has Wi-Fi connectivity and weighs in at 4 pounds.
The costliest of the lot is the Daily Edition that includes both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, with the display being bigger at 7 inches. Onboard storage still is 2 GB with the option of enhancing it to 32 GB via the expansion slot. Price has been kept unchanged at $300, making it perhaps the costliest e-reader around when it hits store shelves around November.
Sony is betting on better design and not price to make their e-readers an enticing buy. The new Sony e-readers are colorful and are available in shades of hot pink, red, silver and black and come with an aluminum body. This provides them with a better finish and feel compared to the Kindle or the Nook which can look and feel plasticky at times.