httpwww.teleread.org20100406cleaning-up-epubs-to-work-with-ibook-aggregatorsScreen-shot-2010-09-01-at-9.16.10-AM[1] Tim Carmody has an in-depth review of the Sony Pocket Reader PRS-350 at Wired. He starts by looking at the touchscreen feature, which is neither capacitive (like the iPhone) nor resistive (like the Pandigital Novel), but instead uses a network of invisible infrared beams like movie burglar alarms. As a result, it is very responsive to touch, or even just to getting one’s finger near the screen.

The device uses a slightly smaller version of the same Pearl screen as the Kindle, and since it doesn’t have a keyboard it’s a lot smaller than the Kindle as well. It apparently looks very pretty, and the resolution and lack of glare entirely blow away previous Sony offerings (such as the PRS-700 that I reviewed last year).

Then Carmody goes into the two major problems that dog this Sony Pocket Reader: first, it has no Internet connectivity at all, and is reportedly a trifle difficult to load with books. Second, the price is a jaw-dropping $179.99—just $10 less than the free-3G-forever Kindle 3 and $40 more than the wifi-only Kindle, both of which also come with the ability to run net-enabled apps to extend their capabilities.

Sony famously said earlier this year that it was going to compete on quality rather than on price. That may be Sony’s goal, but Sony might have a hard time making it work. The screen may be pretty, but the Pocket Reader offers fewer features at a higher price than the other major readers on the market, all of which also have the advantage of being connected to big-name bookstores.


  1. you said “Kindle….which also come[s] with the ability to run net-enabled apps to extend their capabilities.”

    Am I missing something? I have a Kindle, but I don’t know of any net-enabled apps yet. Or are they called by another name?

    I’m not interested in the Sony, but the above statement does make me curious about my Kindle.

  2. Some of us find the Kindle ugly and cheap. I would never use a keyboard with an ereader so that space is useless and not ergodynamic for me. As I have posted before, there are many of us that don’t care about wireless connectivity for several reasons: it costs significantly more to buy a kindle book outside of the US on 3G and free wireless is not prevalent where I live. As well, you are tied to Amazon’s format and thus devices unless you strip the drm which 90% of people don’t have a clue how to do. Sideloading books using Calibre to manage a library across the internet (via dropbox), and many devices is elegant and satisfies those of us that like to micromanage our library. Finally, the ability to use metadata tags for collections is much superior than Kindles current collection making scheme.

    For these reasons, Sony makes a device that suits quite a few of us. The Kindle is inexpensive and great for those who really want a well executed closed system that makes it easy for them to get their books with the minimum fuss.

  3. @ igorsk He does have the device or he couldn’t make the comparison pictures.

    Im going for the sony since I dont think a keyboard should be on a dedicated ereader. the extra $ doesn’t bother me so much and I really like the smaller size so I will actually be able to carry it with me most of the time.

    I thought about getting the kindle but I know I would be using the browser in stead of reading and I have a iphone/ipad for that.

    wifi doesn’t bother me also because once I upload some books on it I will be reading those first in stead of browsing through the store all the time (thats what I am currently doing alot on the iDevices

    I do think Ill be missing the buttons on the side and I dont like the “shininess” of the device.

  4. @hoberton – I’m not so sure he has a device; below all the pictures is the line:
    quote: “All images courtesy of iReader Review.”

    Like you, I don’t care about wireless access; none of my readers have any, and I still have more than enough books on each reader (not all the same books, that would be organized:) ). I’ll wander into a Sony Store sometime soon – at least to look.

  5. @Dan … Uh, the sony reader has an on-screen keyboard.the on-screen keyboard is surprisingly responsive, even for e-ink. the touch interface is actually very nice for highlighting and annotating.

    I agree with MarkChan above. I’d take the sony over the kindle any day, for a device. I’d take the kindle over sony for selection and easy buying, though. I’d REALLY be happy if Amazon allowed sony to make kindle-system-compatible devices (and even happier if amazon sold epub).

  6. @William: There’s not enough radiation for it to be harmful. Radiation is simply part of life. Going by your logic, I have to assume you don’t have a cellphone or a microwave… or go outside when the sun is up. All of which could be true for all I know, but it seems like an absurd length to avoid as much radiation as possible. I like living in the 21st century.

  7. Ben : “Radiation” is a catch all technical term. It includes heat and light and x rays and nuclear radiation. Infrared is very similar to what your body gives off by just being warm and is nothing to worry about.
    Wifi radiation is something to be aware off but the amount of it is infinitesimal and comparable to what your mobile phone is emitting every second.

  8. Okay, I actually have a PRS-350.

    This thing is so light and compact, it makes reading a natural experience, one-handed or otherwise. Furthermore, the touch interface is as sensitive and perfect as one could want, and a subtle swipe of the screen to change pages is wonderful. One doesn’t need to even move one’s hand to do it — just a small gesture with one’s thumb is sufficient. Since above all else, the goal of such a device is to READ BOOKS, a device that’s pleasant to use, lightweight, and effortless … is the TRUE winner in the e-book wars. Do NOT underestimate this device!!

    I have also read about those who had “trouble” loading books onto this device. All I can say is they must have been rather stupid or just clueless about computers. It was a difficult as dragging files from the “Library” on your computer to the “Reader” that’s connected via USB. Anyone who has ever used iTunes would not be challenged by this procedure. Anyone who is has no business reviewing tech. devices. The only thing (clearly states on-screen!) is that one has to activate the new unit with the Sony Reader Store before one can add content. Took 1 minute.

    I only read one or two books simultaneously. Transfers take only a matter of seconds, and I usually have a small queue of books on the reader. Therefore, wireless is irrelevant to me. Most of my books are ePUB or PDF. Kindle would be unable to help with this.

    Like previous Sony Readers, this unit is built rock-solidly, with aluminum on the front and back, and around one side, just as all previous Sony Readers have been. Sony is correct in their statement: This unit WILL sell on quality, rather than price. It looks AND FEELS like quality.

    Kindle has a very loud voice, but that doesn’t make it the best. To wit, all the complaints on Amazon’s comments section about faulty units, rattling pieces inside; frequent crashes, etc… I was tempted by the Kindle 3, but I now know that I made the right choice.


  9. I owned well still do a sony prs-300. Till a family member bought a Kindle wifi 3GS.
    Aked me to set it up for them, for which I did, Meaning I had a Good Feel of this devise how it performed and how it captured new books, It Impressed me, except for points.
    1/ Plastic, including the feel of the buttons.
    2/ Size, felt to big to me, after using my sony prs-300.
    3/ Only able to use Amazon Kindle website for Book Purchase, because of the format they use. of cause there are obscure programmes out there that state they can convert epub etc, But that to me doesn’t feel right,
    What the Kindle did have which blew my prs-300 away was the wonderfull paper Display, which left my device back in the stone ages.

    But I stayed Loyal to Sony and bought myself a SONY PRS-350.
    by the way Only £119.97p From Tesco Express. 31/05/11.

    Glad I bought this devise, Realy first class build and looks.
    The Display about 5% less wow than the Kindle, But 75% better than my old PRS-300. Its best to see this side by side, But believe me its cracking.

    O/K No wifi no 3GS, But I don’t find that a problem, being used to using my Mac to down load A book from Any Ebook store of my choice, Except of cause The Kindle Site.
    The Process I find down loading books Is easy Using the Free Sony Programme.
    Once you have it, you plud your PRS-350 into the computor it auto finds the Sony Programme, and from tht Programme you click on book stores, which take you in an instant to WH.Smith or Waterstones or Sony. Purchase your book. it Appears in your Sony Programme on your Home Page, Where you can leave it or Drag onto your Sony Device. Which brings me to a couple of other points.

    You Dont Have to fill your Device up full of Books If you Don’t Want you can keep them in reserve in your computor if you so want to so you don’t have a Memory limit at all.

    My Last point Is This Ebooks I mean up to date new releases are not cheap, and I think the temptation would be With the Kindle to Keep ON using their wifi / 3G as the Novelty Is there, and to spend spend spend wherever you are, Instead of Just using the Reader to Read, And thats what it is for to take with you A library of Book choices TO READ.

    Take my advice You Can’t and will not go Wrong With A Sony PRS-350.

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