Sony Steals a March on Kindle

SonyTouchReaderSony has finally made a bid to take back the e-book market which Amazon’s Kindle has been dominating since it was released. Sony has released the Reader Touch Edition. Yes, you read that right. Sony has a touch screen e-book reader, which gives you the choice of colors (something Kindle has yet to offer.) Okay, the color selections are minimal: black, silver or red, but it is still a selection.

Let’s get down to the more nitty gritty aspects of the differences. For those who prefer a touch screen to pressing buttons, the inclusion of a touch screen is huge. It also has a graphical interface which is becoming more and more the interface of choice. The usual graphical keyboard is present and the stylus can be used to take freehand notes. **Note** The reason I use a keyboard is my handwriting deteriorates as I write so by the time I’m finished it is completely illegible and I have lost the thoughts I meant to preserve. So I would continue to type my notes.

Here is a brief comparison between the two products. For further details, such as formats, etc, check out their respective websites:

Kindle 2 Sony Touch
Dimensions: 8” x 5.3” x 0.36” 6.9” x 4.8” x .4”
Weight: 10.2 oz. 10.1 oz.
Display size: 6” 6”
Touch screen:

No

Rotating Display: No
Storage: 1.4GB user 512 MB user
Expansion: No
GrayScale: 16 levels 8 levels
Font Size: 6 5
# Books: 1,500 350
Text-to-Speech: No
Dictionary:
Battery Life: 2 weeks 2 weeks
Wireless: 3G 3G

One of the discussions I found most interesting was that Sony is promoting the ability to download library books (both e-books and audio books) using your library card from your local library which then expire at the end of the check out period. I think this is a very cool feature because now there is no waiting for someone else to finish reading the library book and returning it – you simply download it and it is no longer available once it has expired. You don’t even have to remember to return it to the library. Why wasn’t that included in the comparison above? Well, it seems that there is also the ability to do this with the Kindle 2, but it is not an advertized feature and the instructions are somewhat buried. If you would like to read more about obtaining library books on the K2, read this forum thread on the Kindle Boards. Also, there is a great thread on some hacks for the K2 at MobileRead including what they call the Visual Kindle Guide which is well worth your time to check out.

Of the things Sony has done with the e-book reader, one of the items I question was why the small storage? Sony had full advantage of knowing what Amazon had out on the market and instead of matching or besting it to make their product more attractive, they fell woefully short. Of course, they might argue that they returned the expansion slot to us, so have made the capacity once again unlimited (and easy to carry with), but really, 512MB as opposed to 1.4GB? You’ve got to be kidding me. It makes the expansion slots a necessity instead of the luxury it should be. By the way Amazon, this should be an indication to you how much we miss the expansion slot. Please put it back where it belongs.

Sony has hit a hot smash in Amazon’s direction. The ball’s in your court Bezos, the question is what will you do with it? I can’t wait to find out.

Originally written for the LL Book Review

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