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Sony is first off the boat with its new PRS-T2 e-reader for the 2012 Christmas season, beating Kobo and Amazon to the punch — but, unlike the Kobo Glo and the Kindle Paperwhite, it lacks a built-in front-light. Nevertheless, Sony's offering will be able to maintain its place in the e-reader marketplace, due to a few new features ... and fixes.
Like thebefore it, the PRS-T2 is cased in hard, lightweight plastic — gloss finish on the front and matte on the back, available in white, red or black. It carries through many of the design elements: the gently curved bottom edge, slanting bezel and five buttons, but the design has been cleaned up a bit, making the reader look more compact — even though at 173x110x9.1mm, it's 0.2mm larger than its predecessor.
It also comes in at four grams lighter, at 164g, making it the lightest 6-inch Sony Reader to date; but you'll not notice that much, especially if you use Sony's official case — which will, admittedly, add another 33 per cent to the price tag, but it is also really useful in a blackout, as it happens.
The five buttons have likewise been pared back; instead of the baguette-shaped strip, each of the buttons is now formed in the shape its icon: page back, page forward, home, return and menu. On the bottom edge is the power button, micro-USB port and reset button, and the MicroSD slot is hidden behind a panel on the back left edge.
Notably absent is the audio jack — because the PRS-T2 no longer supports audio files. We can't say that's something we miss.
Sony introduces its software changes gradually, with few differences between models; but, while the PRS-T2 runs on pretty much the same software as the PRS-T1, there have been a few notable additions.
First, the hardware — both the T1 and the T2 run on a 1GHz processor and support IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. The new Reader, though, has doubled the battery life from three weeks to six, and has an updated E Ink screen that uses the latest Pearl technology (V220), although still at 800x600p resolution. It doesn't really break any new ground, but it's a bit less grey than before.
As noted above, the PRS-T2 has dispensed with audio support, a change that we don't find surprising — we can't imagine anyone using their e-reader to listen to music, or even ebooks, when they have a smartphone in their pocket, and Sony has never supported text-to-speech (TTS) technology for vision-impaired readers.
The e-reader does come with a stylus, but once again, there is no handy place to store it; we found ourselves using fingers, which work just as well for basic tasks, such as item selection, page-turning and highlighting, although not for scribbling notes. However, the screen is a little more accurate when it comes to the latter than before, meaning the hand-scribbled notes we did make were slightly more legible.