Sony's recently-announced new lineup of Readers was launched this morning in New York. The top item: a "Daily Edition," offering similar 3G wireless capabilities to the Kindle alongside a 7-inch touchscreen display. It'll be out in December, for $400--cheaper than Amazon's own large-format model, the DX.
Two other models will also hit 8,500 stores nationwide in the coming weeks: a basic $200 pocket-sized reader, and a $300 touchscreen edition that lacks the built-in wireless connection and giant display of the flagship model.
A touchscreen, useful for scribbling notes or turning "pages" by hand, isn't offered on the latest Kindles. Moreover, Sony plans to differentiate itself by embracing open formats, in contrast to Amazon's aggressive and much-criticized DRM scheme. Sony earlier responded to Amazon's missteps by cuddling up with Project Gutenberg, the online repository of public domain texts. An always-on internet connection to Sony's online library gives these moves sharper teeth.
The new models will be fully compatible with Apple's OSX as well as Windows, unlike previous editions that offered only basic file transfers on the Mac unless customers got additional third-party software.
It also announced a social networking site for readers, WordsMoveMe; a partnership with the New York Public Library; and a range of pointless accessories.
Sony has achieved something remarkable: it's delivered exactly what was wanted of it, in timely fashion, at a competitive price, without losing its way on the design front. This Christmas is going to be a good one for electronic Reader gadgets.