The Good The PRS-600 is sleeker than the Kindle; touch screen is more responsive than last year's Sony Reader; interface offers better ergonomics and is mostly easy to use; with the addition of an optional memory card (SD or Memory Stick Pro), it's capable of storing thousands of electronic books; five font sizes; decent battery life; displays Word and PDF files (with zoom), shows most image files, and plays MP3 and AAC audio; Sony's eBook Library software is now both Windows and Mac-compatible, with bestsellers costing $9.99 (just like Amazon); EPUB file compatibility lets you access thousands of free classic Google Books and loaner files from many local libraries; built-in dictionary now included.
The Bad Screen is still glare-prone; screen contrast (how dark the letters are) isn't as good as what you'll find on competing models; lack of wireless access means all files must be dragged and dropped from a PC; battery is sealed into unit; notation and markup functions can be cumbersome; USB charging only works from PCs.
The Bottom Line While it's an improvement to the company's previous touch-screen model, Sony's Reader Touch Edition PRS-600 is saddled with a screen that's short on contrast and prone to glare--and it lacks the wireless convenience of Amazon's identically priced Kindle.
Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600
Editors' Note (July 6, 2010): As of July 2010, Sony has lowered the suggested retail price of this product to $169.99.
Editors' Note (January 25, 2010): Due to competitive changes in the marketplace, we have lowered the rating on this product.
When Sony released its touch-screen PRS-700 Reader last year, it had a few noticeable flaws. First, its contrast--or how black the letters appear on the screen--wasn't as good as that of the Amazon Kindle or even Sony's earlier PRS-505 Reader. Secondly, its screen reflected light and created a glare issue if you didn't hold the device at just the right angle when viewing it. Thirdly, the side-lit screen theoretically allowed for reading in dark environments, but it was more trouble than it was worth. And finally, the touch screen wasn't quite as responsive as it should have been. Those flaws were especially disappointing because the PRS-700 was otherwise a pretty good e-reader, and we found the touch-based interface to be more intuitive than navigating on the Kindle.