Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600 review: Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

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Typical Price: £240.00
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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

1 stars 1 user review

The Good Easy to read; supports multiple ebook formats; annotation function is great for students; no bookstore lock-in as with Amazon's Kindle; integrated MP3 player is a welcome touch; memory-card slots allow for storage expansion.

The Bad Expensive; touchscreen is glossy and reflective; requires a computer to transfer ebooks.

The Bottom Line In many ways, we prefer the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600 to Amazon's Kindle. But it's a more expensive product and its glossy screen detracts too much from the reading experience. It's a capable device, and a good choice for students, but we prefer most competing ebook readers overall

6.5 Overall

With Amazon's Kindle finally available in the UK, Sony's ebook readers have more competition than ever. The Reader Touch Edition PRS-600, one of Sony's two latest models, lacks many features of the Kindle, but brings touchscreen navigation to the world of ebook readers.

It's on sale now for about £240. That's roughly £20 more than the Kindle, and £70 more than the smaller, non-touchscreen Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300.

What's on display?
All ebook readers we've seen, including the Touch, use e-ink displays. This screen technology only requires power from the battery when 'turning' pages. Once a page has loaded, the screen is essentially switched off. As a result, you get no more eyestrain from reading text on an e-ink screen than you get from reading a physical book.

You can realistically go for days and days without ever charging the Touch (we didn't need to charge it once during our review period). It has 512MB of internal memory, which is roughly a third of what the Kindle has, but enough to store about 350 paperbacks at any one time nonetheless. SD and Memory Stick card slots can expand the internal memory by up to 16GB each.

The main difference between the Kindle and the Touch is that the latter's e-ink display is touch-sensitive. You can turn a page by swiping your finger from the right-hand side of the screen to the left. More notably, you can also easily underline sentences, circle passages and add annotations using the stylus. You can browse lists of annotations, and can quickly jump to whichever book and page they were made on.

The problem is that, probably for everyone but students, the touchscreen adds nothing to the experience of actually reading. Worse is that the resistive touchscreen has an irritating reflective gloss, so text looks nothing like a printed page, as it does on the Kindle or the Pocket. It's still comfortable to read and text is clear, but other displays are much better.

Open to competitors
Certain other features compensate to a degree. The Kindle bookstore uses DRM that ties the books you buy from it to Amazon devices. Sony's bookstore, however, supports the more widely used ePub format. Although many ebooks bought from sites such as Waterstone's use DRM, the DRM itself is supported by more than just Sony's devices. By buying an ebook in the ePub format, you're not restricting yourself to just one manufacturer's products. Be warned, though: navigating the Waterstone's ebook store is not fun. In fact, it's downright painful. The Kindle wins the battle for sheer computer-free simplicity.

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