Sony’s new Reader has a touchscreen

sony_reader_700.jpg

Sony’s latest e-reader. the PRS-700, looks good: it features a six-inch touchscreen, allowing you to look up words, tag bookmarks and turn pages with the press of a finger. Built into the sides: a series of LED lights for reading for up to 8 hours in dark environments. It should be available in November for $300.

I like it. The Kindle’s EVDO connection is still its killer feature, and every other e-reader out there pales in comparison, no matter how much the Kindle looks like an e-reader glued back together after being hurled violently against a wall. But the touchscreen is certainly a nicer way to interface with a book than clunkily tabbing through words.

Sony debuts touchscreen Reader, the PRS-700 [DVICE]

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8 Responses to Sony’s new Reader has a touchscreen

  1. hohum says:

    Wondering about formats and Mac compatibility (not just with the device but with whatever software is needed for whatever DRMified formats are going on inside)… A non-issue with the Kindle, as I know I can get more recent books, as well as access to public domain books… Still, this thing looks promising… The last gen Sony was the first time I saw e-ink in the flesh and it really did wow me.

  2. Bugs says:

    #4 – If you dislike the faff of Gutenburg, there are several sites that will avoid that. manybooks.net seems to have a huge library and will output the books in loads of formats, including epub (designed to work well on any compatible reader regardless of screen size) and custom-sized .pdfs.

    I agree with your point about digitisation entirely though. I don’t own a reader, but I wouldn’t feel terribly guilty about buying a real book then downloading a pirate ebook version. I see it as morally equivalent to ripping a CD to my MP3 player, especially given that the eBooks I’ve seen for sale cost just as much as the hardcopies for exactly the same content.

  3. Bugs says:

    Sony has largely given up on its own proprietary book format. Assuming the PRS-700 uses a firmware similar to the new one for the PRS-505, it’ll be happy with open and emcrypted .pdfs and the new epub format, which, unlike pdf, is designed to reflow easily for book readers while preserving chapter breaks etc.

    The new 505 firmware can reflow A4 .pdfs to its screen, but I’ve heard mixed reviews of how it handles complex documents like scientific papers.

    A few of the major free book repositories already offer epub downloads, and “several major publishers” were preparing to release DRM’d epub books in the press release I saw a few months ago. I haven’t actually sen any for sale yet though; Watersones (a big UK book shop chain which has just started selling the PRS-505) is selling its ebooks in encrypted pdf format instead.

    @1:
    For the encrypted pdfs, I believe you need to be able to install Adobe digital editions. If you can find this, you should be fine. I get the impression that epub and other format books can be dragged and dropped onto the device using any OS, but I’m not certain. the mobileread forums are a good place to get info.

  4. Bugs says:

    Sony’s “virtual press kit” (is it really still necessary to prefix every piece of information online as “virtual”?) is here: http://news.sel.sony.com/assets/Reader_2008/

    Full specs for the PRS-700 aren’t up yet, but presumably will be soon.

    There’s a bit more information at the top of the news section at http://www.mobileread.com/

    Interestingly, mobileread give a different price, at $400.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Kindle’s killer feature isn’t the EVDO connection, it’s the Amazon store.

    I own one of the first generation Sony Readers. The hardware is nice, and the UI on the reader is nice. The software for loading books is acceptable – just. But the store is very poorly organized and has a very limited selection. On the first generation devices, you’re pretty much limited to the Sony store, text files, or a lot of work formatting RTF or PDF documents (because the first generation device won’t reflow).

    The problem for all readers, though, is that you can’t do with books what you can do with CDs and even DVDs: digitize your existing content. You can import a CD into your iPod in minutes, a DVD in less than 2 hours (though obviously you have to use third party software for that), and the total amount of user intervention is a minute or two. Scanning a book takes tens of hours of actual person-time (and not just computer time), and the result always needs to be cleaned up.

    Yes, there’s always Project Gutenberg; but those are all 70+ year old editions, and still require a good deal of work to format properly for any electronic reader.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Bugs (I’m the same user as the posting you replied to, #4),

    I’ve tried manybooks. The problem there is that whatever tool he (? I think there’s one principal behind it, but with some helpers) was using for creating the files back when I was trying it (most of which are from Gutenberg) didn’t handle verse very well. I use the past tense because I think he was working on fixing that problem.

    Nori1520,

    I don’t know what’s so unreliable about the Sony Reader. Mine never crashes, the battery lasts a pretty good amount of time, there’s a lot more screen space for the foot print than the Kindle, and it was cheaper ($300 versus $359 for the Kindle). Frankly, though I think that right now the Kindle is the better buy, I’d also have to say that it’s not for the reasons you’re claiming. As I said above, the key to a successful electronic book is the store (so long as a high proportion of the content you want to read is only available in DRM). On that score, even the Palm Reader software beats the Sony Reader, and the Kindle blows both out of the water.

  7. nori1520 says:

    Why would someone want to buy this? It’s more expensive and not as reliable as Amazon’s Kindle. The Kindle is so much better than any other electronic reader out there.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The price is actually $400 not $300.

    The source was wrong and has updated their price.

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