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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  • rose

    great review. i’ve been following the various e-readers coming out on the marketplace, and i wonder how the name of the device affects the reception to the product. interesting article over here: http://onthebutton.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/books-are-so-yesterday/

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  • Brian J

    Does it have a wireless connectivity feature too?

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  • Nah, It’s not there. A simple wifi & 3G would have done wonders but I guess to extend battery life, Sony didn’t consider it.

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  • Druzil

    I bought a Hanlin EZReader – which I’m loving. It’s not as well known as the Kindle’s or Sony, but after some research I thought it was better value. It supports more document formats and is slightly lighter than the Sony. The battery life is brilliant ( I read about 1-2 hours a day and leave the ebook “on” constantly. I’ve had it for 3 months and have charged it twice since then.) I don’t see the need for a touchscreen on a reading device – I prefer my hand being stationary between page turns, on the button where you naturally hold the book.

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  • brevityverb

    Aside from the hardware issues like glare and low contrast, bugs in the software make owning the reader a nightmare experience. Imagine purchasing expensive books that you can only read in the pc, not in the reader itself! You also cannot manage the books from the reader; you have to connect it to the pc and delete/manage/add collections using the pc. Sony has always had problems with software (like SonicStage for its walkmans) and very poor support. You always have to charge the reader by connecting it to the pc.

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  • brevityverb

    Aside from the hardware issues like glare and low contrast, bugs in the software make owning the reader a nightmare experience. Imagine purchasing expensive books that you can only read in the pc, not in the reader itself! You also cannot manage the books from the reader; you have to connect it to the pc and delete/manage/add collections using the pc. Sony has always had problems with software (like SonicStage for its walkmans) and very poor support. To charge it, you always have to connect the reader to the pc.

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  • richcornell

    Basically the readability of the prs-600 is intolerable. You can't read it well in anything except perfect conditions and even then a .pdf with highlighted links is virtually blacked out completely. It's a beautifully designed unit and I love it so much. The Kindles are crap but can be read in virtually any kind of light except in the dark and are far over-priced. The prs-600 has three shades for reading – medium grey, dark grey and almost black. The idea of these things is to be able to read them – I'm keeping my crap Kindle – taking back the prs-600 and waiting for Apple to take over the the entire market. Save your money for now.

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  • Angie Poe

    Does the sony reader 600 have a backlight?

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    • Unfortunately, it doesn't but it's still readable in almost all lightning conditions (except for dark of course)

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  • gtas

    Are programming books look ok..like source codes and snippets?

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  • All text looks good, Source code (particularly in Lucidia console) looks all fine. however you can check out B&N Nook Review: http://www.taranfx.com/blog/review-nook-ebook-r… Nook is better than Sony PRS. But currently out of stock for holiday season.

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  • gtas

    Are programming books look ok..like source codes and snippets?

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    • All text looks good, Source code (particularly in Lucidia console) looks all fine. however you can check out B&N Nook Review: http://www.taranfx.com/blog/review-nook-ebook-r… Nook is better than Sony PRS. But currently out of stock for holiday season.

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  • Mixalis2008

    I bought a PRS-600 three months ago to replace my old PRS-550. I agree with the advantages of the touch screen and intuitive controls, but I have one major gripe: whereas the battery of the original Sony lasted at least two weeks, the 600 runs out of juice after a couple of days and, probably, no more than 500 page turns. I complained to Sony and they advised me to switch off the device after use. This is really not convenient and I prefer to leave it in sleep mode. I also think the touch-screen has less contrast and is more difficult to read than the screen on the 550; I've read other comments mentioning this. Anyone else with similar problems?

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    • Drmbm

      Definitely the battery is hopeless—switching it off rather than putting it in sleep mode makes no difference whatever. On a good day I can get 100 pages mostly 20 or 30.

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  • banjobama

    Someone needs to proofread this article!

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  • The Sony PRS looks nice. Still I think that e-readers are still overpriced, considering their technological complexity. I believe that when the Asus and the other companies get the momentum that the prices will go down, while the features will go up.

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  • It's a perfect review and I must say other users will also like it.

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  • Pier

    The contrast of the screen in a real life situation is much lower, and actually is more grey than white. Don't be fooled by those super lit, post processed pictures of the reader….

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  • Drorez

    Wow, it hurts to read such poorly written review. Get some real writers please.

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  • Drmbm

    Ability to change font size is a bonus —means I can read in bed without glasses—-or I should be able to do so if battery lasted even a tenth of advertised page turns. maximum I ever got from a charge was 100 pages (once) usually it is 20 or 30 and it always loses charge if left unused for a week…..not a good prospect for taking all my books on holiday. It only charges from USB through laptop not from regular USB charger or even USB car charger. Did I get a dud version or is this the normal —except for a few published “excellent reviews”

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    • Jamesdwalters

      Sorry but your unit is either defective or you are doing some thing wrong. I read a LOT average 200-300 pages a night. I just received this unit from a friend who didn’t use his. Yes there is some minor glare issues but I can’t compare it to anything else except my smart phone and it is WAY better then that in sunlight. I read 600 pages last night on my first test run and it went down about 1 tick on battery indicator. I did have some issues at first getting windows 7 to recognize it but changed usb cables and was good to go. It does have a little flip out led light that works great if you angle it correctly to keep from getting any reflection from it (also a handy night light/flashlight). All in all after a little getting used to not holding the book I was VERY satisfied with it. Had I payed $100+ for it I would probably been less happy with it until I got used to it but I think it is a great device and see myself using it for years and saving a TON of money on books as I go through them at a rate of about 1 every other day or so (can’t sleep at night alot).

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  • Seriously awesome, thanks!

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