The picture above shows Sony's new Reader Daily Edition, Touch Edition and Pocket Edition.
Prices of e-readers seem to be dropping almost weekly. This week's news concerns Sony's very popular Sony Readers. The new devices -- the Reader Pocket Edition, Reader Touch Edition and Reader Daily Edition -- have been redesigned to be smaller and lighter than the e-readers they are replacing. All three now share the same user interface and general physical style, although only the Daily Edition adds Wi-Fi.
The Sony Readers are also equipped with touch screens that use the new E-Ink Pearl displays -- the same ones used by the recently introduced Kindle DX and Kindle 3 e-readers. E-Ink claims a 50% greater contrast ratio, and thus better readability, for the Pearl than earlier e-reader displays. If you haven't yet seen the various e-readers, I'd suggest you visit a nearby bookstore or computer store to see the units on display. Today's technology provides easy-to-read display screens that produce no glare. The new Sony Readers claim to be even easier to read than last week's products.
The Pocket Edition ($179) is the smallest at 5.7 x 4.1 x 0.3 in. It is also the lightest of the three new models. The Pocket has the same five slim buttons on the bottom that the Touch and Daily editions use. It's available in two colors, silver and pink.
The Touch Edition ($229), comes with a 6-in. display and is slightly larger than the Pocket, at 6.6 x 4.7 x 0.4 in. The Sony Touch adds the ability to play MP3 and AAC audio files; it also expands its capacity with Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD media slots. It is available in black and red.
Neither the Pocket nor the Touch comes with any type of wireless communications. They must be connected to a computer in order to download new books, magazines, and newspapers. However, the new Daily Edition ($299) adds Wi-Fi and basic Web browsing to its AT&T 3G connection. With a 7-in. display, the Daily will be available in silver.
These are not the cheapest prices in the marketplace. Sony claims it is more interested in capabilities than in bottom line prices. Indeed, the Sony devices do have several capabilities not found in cheaper, competitive units.
All three devices include 2GB of onboard memory which is enough to hold about 1,200 books. Each comes with a stylus that lets you take freehand notes, or you can use the on-screen keyboard. Your notes can be exported to your computer via the same included USB 2.0 cable that lets you import and export books.
Unlike the Kindle, the e-readers in the Sony Reader line are compatible with a variety of e-book formats, including ePub (which is as close to a standard as is possible in today's e-reader market), Microsoft Word and PDF. That strikes me as a big advantage for anyone who wishes to copy downloaded (free) books to an e-reader.
Both the Sony Pocket Edition and Touch Edition are available now. The Daily Edition will be available in November.
The next time you take a vacation, which would you prefer to take with you? 2,000 books or a Sony e-reader that weighs about a half pound? Both contain the same amount of reading material.