Sony was one of the first companies to take eBook reading into the mainstream. They’ve been in the market for five years now, and have had a number of successful models. Unfortunately for them, however, high prices and the lack of an internet connection meant that they lost a lot of their market to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Sony are back and ready to face the competition with a new improved Sony Reader Wi-Fi, but have they done enough to impress customers?
Sony Reader Wi-Fi Key Specs
Average Price: $149 Release Year: 2011 Battery Life: One Months (Wi-Fi off) Screen Size: 6 inch Screen Type: e-Ink touchscreen Weight: 5.9 oz Storage Size: 2GB (expandable by 32GB) Internet: Wi-Fi Main eBook Format: ePub
Pros Of The Sony Reader Wi-Fi
Design: Sony have given their last line of eBook readers a revamp with the Sony Reader Wi-Fi, but it’s still clear to see that this is very much a Sony product. The good news is that this reader is lighter than ever before (due to the fact that it now uses a plastic, not metal, casing) and is lighter than any of the other major 6″ eReaders out there today. It also comes in a choice of black, pink or white for those who like the option of a slightly personalized eReader.
Touchscreen Technology: Sony was the first to come out with a touchscreen eReader all those years ago, and have worked to ensure the best reading experience. The Sony Reader Wi-Fi uses the same touchscreen technology as you’ll find in the Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Kobo Touch Edition, which is very responsive and makes it a breeze to get around your device.
The Sony Reader Wi-Fi does differ from these devices, however, in that it also features some physical buttons for those who want them. Although you can turn the page with a swipe of the finger, you can also control the page turns using the buttons at the bottom of the screen. There’s even a stylus option for those who’d rather operate the device and make notes that way instead.
Internet: Fans of the Sony Reader will be pleased to see that they’ve included Wi-Fi on this device. This brings it into line with its main rivals: the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. Included Wi-Fi means that you can now access the Sony bookstore and download titles whenever you’re connected up to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The good news is that there’s also an experimental web browser included. Although no eReader browser can be used for complex browsing functions, it’s useful for checking the odd email or looking something up on Wikipedia, and performs better than the Kindle browser.
MicroSD Card Slot: With 2GB onboard memory, there’s plenty of storage space for your books. You’ll fit around 1200 titles onto the included memory, though you can take advantage of the MicroSD card slot to add up to an extra 32GB. You don’t need a computer to manage all your files, either: manage your book and music library right on the device itself.
Library Features: Thanks to the fact that the Sony Reader Wi-Fi uses ePub eBooks, you can easily borrow books from your local library. The reader comes with a dedicated icon to make accessing this feature easy, though you have to be a member of a local library who offers this service.
If you can’t take advantage of library downloads then the good news is that you can access a number of free eBooks through the Google Books section of the Sony book store, right from the device.
Battery Life: The battery on the Sony Reader Wi-Fi is designed to last for 14,000 page turns, which equates to around one month before you’ll need to charge it. Keep the Wi-Fi turned on and you will run it out a lot faster, however. One month is definitely the standard for quality eBook readers, though doesn’t quite match up to the Kindle Touch and Nook Touch.
Audio: Unlike the Nook, the Sony Reader Wi-Fi lets you play your MP3 and AAC audio files directly on the device. You’ll need to purchase headphones separately, though.
Cons Of The Sony Reader Wi-Fi
Cost: Sony is almost famous for pricing their eBook readers very high. The good news, however, is that the price has come down for the Sony Reader Wi-Fi. It’s also more equal to its main rivals in terms of specs and extra features. It is only $10 more than the Nook and Kindle Touch (without special offers), which isn’t too bad but could still affect sales.
No iPhone App: The best readers, such as the Kindle, Nook and Kobo, all have a whole host of apps that allow people to sync their book collections between smartphones, tablets and computers. This also makes books of various formats accessible to all, even if they don’t own the specific device. Although the Sony Reader has an Android, PC and Mac app available, there’s no iOS app. This is a big deal for many users, as the iPad and iPhone are both extremely popular devices.
Is The Sony Reader Wi-Fi Worth Buying?
The question is, will the Sony Reader Wi-Fi help Sony regain some of its lost market share? They’ve done a lot to make sure this happens, from reducing the price significantly, to adding a Wi-Fi internet connection and using an excellent quality touchscreen. Unfortunately, however, it’s still a little more expensive than we’d like, but aside from the cost this is a serious contender in the high-end eReader market.