Hands-On Review: Sony Reader Touch PRS-600 vs. Kindle 2

With the rise of Amazon’s kindle, the Era of eBook readers commercialized faster than it did till date. Till last year, they were the only BIG players in ebook reader industry till others woke-up to beat up the limitations.

Sony came with a reader, so did so many other companies. Amazon updated to Kindle 2, and next year Apple plans for All-Killer device, Mac Tablet.

Eventually, Sony announced Openness in library books, and offline storage. Their first device, as we know, was  the PRS-700 – left me complaining  and now they are out with yet another device PRS-600. And this time, I was surprised by what I saw.

Update: Played with the device for 4 days. Added more experiences.
What’s Inside

image Credits Sonystyle.com

The Sony Reader Touch Edition has 3 colors to choose from Red, black ,Silver (as in the image above), which comes in a small box (just like Apple) . It charges from USB just like you iPhone or any new gadget.

It’s pretty easy to install this device. Plug your new PRS-600 into  PC and a pop-up informs of new software availability (current release goes like this 1.0.01.xxxxx). Hit Ok and there you go with latest Firmware. Kindle’s firmware upgrade is relatively time consuming.

Overall Feel of the Device
I never adjusted with Idea of Kindle. The reason being it was bonded to a cellular network and a single Books vendor. The hardware too was never as-good. Sony, since beginning believes in designing great design for it’s gadgets. And this Reader is no exception.

The current PRS-600, hasn’t changed atleast dimensions wise as compared to the previous PRS-505. The metallic semi-metallic front and soft touch back is perfect for a good grip.

More on  Hardware
The device attracts you with it’s 6 inch touchscreen. It has 5 buttons with five buttons for Navigation and browsing through your Book collection.

via Sonystyle.com

Other standard buttons like power, reset, and ports like miniUSB and 3.5mm jack are at the bottom. I would have preferred at Top though.

What adds to the goodness is it’s slim nature. With thickness of  0.4″ only, it does a good job while you hold it.

Sony also puts a stylus with this device, which I rather found useless. Finger touch was pretty accurate. More about it in Touchscreen section.

Formats & Media Support

Yes, This is the leader in this one. Music playback quality is pretty decent. It plays almost all MP3 music bitrate. From what I tired 448kbps VBR ran well . Bass and Treble were normalized, tuned for clarity, though you can override them.

On the Docs side, It opens all .doc files with a charm, but .docx seems unsupported. I tried to check with Sony support, but no response yet.

PDF was the best thing you could get on this device. PDF font was very-much readable and soft to prolonged reading. Scrolling through the pages was silky smooth. Not as smooth as the iPhone, but yes, best of it’s kind on eBook readers.

As Sony comments on multiple Formats on their website –

Providing more than just a superior reading experience, the Reader Touch Edition, supports Adobe® PDF, Microsoft® Word, BBeB Book® and other text file formats, as well as EPUB/ACS4 and connection with Adobe Digital Editions. In addition to being PC and Mac® compatible, you can even play back unsecured MP3 and AAC audio files.

The Touch-Screen and UI

Sony has done some good Homework this time. They completely redesigned the UI small icons are replaced with Big buttons for each Continue Reading, Collections, All Notes, Text memo, Handwriting and Books. The touch screen is a big Value-add and most of the UI tricks have been added to support it well.

There is a on-screen keyboard which makes-up well for any hardware keyboard. The keyboard is not very large and may not be good enough for Big fingers. Here you might find the ling stylus useful.

If you are not pleased, use the handwriting for writing. My handwriting ain’t that good, still It was able to catch most of it.

It seemed like device is learning from the way I wrote. The accuracy increased over time. or may be it was just me.

The screen does seem to get some grime from hands but the display is still visible. Though when you move to outdoors, the fingerprints cause trouble. May be that’s why Sony included and stylus.

Library

Sony has a more open model towards eBooks unlike the Amazon’s limited model. The result – Millions of cheaper eBooks, available via Sony library.

Deal for the constant traveler, daily commuter or leisurely reader, the Reader Touch Edition lets you carry up to 350 of your favorite books at a time. You can even expand the capacity with optional Memory Stick® PRO Duo or SD media (sold separately).

Battery Life

Sony claims battery life of two weeks and 7,500 continuous page turns. Practically, I was able to achieve battery life of 48 hours. All this time, the device was left ON. Practically, this comes out to be 16 days (Approx. 2.5 hours reading everyday).

Pretty impressive for a eBook Reader. This is much better as compared to Kindle 2 or 1.

My Wishlist

I would like this device to have few more things. As OLED is becoming popular and cheaper, It’s possible to shrink this device to 0.2″ thickness. I know that would add 100 to $200 more, but it would be nice to have as an option.

The current device doesn’t ship with a charger. Only way to charge is via USB. now this could get hard when you are sitting outside without your notebook or when your notebook battery is already running out of juice while traveling.

But it could be just me.

Verdict?
What’s more than what I discussed is the Open-ness. This means you can get millions of eBooks on this device for free or cheap. Why? Because you can get PDF and ePUB formats OOB on this device.

The most important thing about a eBook reader if the crispness of the text — How well it does with your eyes over prolonged reading. I’m happy and proud to state this. I’m convinced. Such displays use technology called eInk Display also called EPDs, and Sony seems to have best of it’s kind.

Coming to the price of $299, it’s a fair deal to most. But some will argue on getting Netbook instead. But trust me, it’s a pleasure reading on this device.

Definitely, this is a better device to go for than Kindle 2. But wait what about Mac Tablet?

If you feel I missed something, feel free to write back. I`ll be happy to comment.

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Credits to ZDnet (for similar review), SonyStyle.com (for photos)

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