- Editor's Rating
- Excellent hardware
- Beautiful display
- Elegant user interface with plenty of customization options
- Touchscreen notetaking
- Zoom feature that really works
- No wireless option unless you opt for the larger/more expensive model
- Must charge via computer USB port or purchase Sony charger
- Desktop software isn't bad, but it is required to purchase books from the Sony Reader store
The Sony Reader Touch Edition is an electronic reading device with a six-inch eInk Pearl screen, 2GB of onboard memory, and dual SD and Memory Stick Duo expansion slots. It supports ePub, PDF, plain text, and RTF files in addition to JPEG/PNG/GIF/BMP photos and unencrypted AAC and MP3 audio files. It sells for $229 and is available from SonyStyle.
BUILD & DESIGN:
Sony always makes beautiful things, and the Reader Touch Edition is no exception to that rule. When you first pick it up you will likely be surprised by how thin and light it is. It measures just a hair over 6 ½ inches and is 4 ¾ inches wide and less than half an inch thick. The Sony Reader is significantly shorter than the Barnes & Noble Nook, which shouldn’t be too surprising. Since it has a full touchscreen display, there’s no reason for a separate LCD underneath the display like the Nook.
The front of the Reader is made of metal, and the back is covered in a material with a subtle grip to it — you won’t have to worry about the device slipping out of your hands while you’re reading. The left side of the device is just slightly thicker than the right, which also serves to make it easy to grip and comfortable to hold.
The display is absolutely gorgeous, with excellent contrast — 50% better than previous models. Reading both eBooks and PDF documents is a dream on this updated eInk Pearl display. Illustrations are crisp and clear, even when zoomed in. Sony has truly worked a marvel here, because the display is also a full touchscreen as well. Earlier versions of the Sony Reader suffered from a few issues because there was a touchscreen layered over the display, which was less than ideal and sometimes suffered from dust issues.
The new model doesn’t suffer from any of those issues and is surprisingly responsive. I’ll discuss this more in just a moment, but you can use either your finger or the included stylus to navigate your library and annotate your books and PDFs. In other words, the best way to describe this display is to use a single word: amazing.
Other Buttons & Controls
The power slider button is on the top left edge of the device, and the Memory Stick Duo and SD card slots are on the top right edge. The stylus silo is on the top right corner; it’s easy to remove but also sits securely in the slot so you shouldn’t have to worry about it falling out.
On the front of the device, underneath the display, you’ll find the page forward and back buttons, then Home, search, and options. I particularly like the placement of the page forward button, because it rests right underneath my thumb when I’m holding the Sony Reader in one hand.
The reset button, charge/sync port, headphone jack, and volume keys are on the bottom edge of the device. Everything is easy to find and is in the perfect spot, nothing out of place. Please note however, that the Sony Reader can only be charged by plugging the included cable into the USB port on your computer. Your only other option is to purchase the special $29.99 Sony AC adapter that works with the Reader, but isn’t included.
I have a vast(!) array of third party chargers thanks to my years of experience reviewing mobile tech, but none of them will work with the Sony Reader. Since the same is true of the Sony PSP Go, I must conclude that this is a design choice on Sony’s part, and one that I most certainly do not agree with. It isn’t even a question of cost, because I do expect to pay a premium for Sony products — but I resent the space that special charger and cable take up in my gear bag or suitcase, because it looks like a standard micro USB port.