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CNET First Look
Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300RCWhile Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300 has a basic feature set, its $200 price tag, compact size, and Epub file compatibility make it an appealing e-book reader.
>> David: Hi, I'm David Carnoy, Executive Editor for CNET.com and I'm here with the Sony PRS-300 eBook Reader; this is also known as the Sony Reader Pocket Edition. The key thing here is that this has a 5 inch display instead of the 6 inch display found on most eBook readers these days including the Amazon Kindle 2. Now, this isn't a touch-screen model. Sony also has the PRS-600 the step-up model which costs $100 more and that is a touch-screen model. And by going with the 5 inch screen you can see that it's considerably smaller than a 6 inch model. It's not quite pocketable but it does slip into the inside pocket on a coat jacket and you can also slip it into a cargo pant pocket, so in that sense you could say that it is pocketable. This is really a pretty basic model, there's no built-in wireless. There's also no expansion slot for more memory you'll find that on the PRS600. This has 512MB of built-in memory only 440MB of that is used [inaudible] about 350 eBooks. And its eBooks Store now has best selling titles for $9.99 which matches Amazon's pricing. Overall we really did like the look and feel of this unit. It does fit in your hand better because it is smaller. That said you will find yourself turning a lot of pages with this because you can't get that many lines per text per page. There are 3 different font sizes, there's a small, medium and large. With the smaller font size you can get about 17 lines of text on here. Maybe a 300 page book actually comes out to about 1,000 pages on this little eBook reader. The battery on the unit is non-user replaceable, which means if the battery does die you will have to send this unit back to Sony to have the battery replaced. However, the battery does give you pretty good battery life. One of the good things about Sony eReaders is they do read a lot of file formats, so this one's compatible with BBED files, ePub files as well as TXT space files, PDF's and Microsoft Word files. For PDF's this is not necessarily the greatest device 'cause it is so small and it does slow down with bigger PDF files. It's also worth noting that this device is compatible with the eBooks that you can download from your local libraries; those are in a special ePub format that expires after 21 days. There's no MP3 audio on this device, that's not a huge deal but more importantly you don't have the ability to add annotations or notes. You can add bookmarks, you can navigate using the 4 way button on the front, you could also use the numbers on the side to go to corresponding numbers on the screen, those are sort of like shortcuts. It's worth noting that the contrast on the screen is actually very good on this model. It measured up nicely to the Amazon Kindle. It's also better than Sony's PRS600, which doesn't offer quite the contrast because it has a touch-screen, that model also has some glare issues; this has no glare issues. At $199 the PRS300 isn't a total bargain around $150 it would, but because it's more compact and costs $50.00 less than the Kindle 2 that does make this an appealing eReader that a lot of people are going to be looking at. If you're looking for an eReader with some extra features and not such a basic feature set this is probably not for you. But if you're looking for something that's a bit more compact and costs a little less this should probably be on your short list. Despite these shortcomings we really did like it. I'm David Carnoy and that's the Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300. ^M00:03:27 [ Music ]