Sony Digital Book Reader Touch Edition – Is There a Place For it in the Digital EBook Reader Market

Back in August, when Sony Corp made the announcement they were to release three next generation digital eBook reader models, questions were asked about their rational in including the mid range Sony digital book reader touch edition in that line up. Few industry analysts, if any, thought there would be any takers for a model that pitch itself, right there, up against the very popular Amazon Kindle, which was also the market leading device at that time.

In the short time since the release, it is now crystal clear that the prs600 has caught the imagination of the buying public, in a way Sony must have only dreamed of, fully justifying their brave (some may even say risky) decision to include the model in their impressive product range.

I have always maintained the need for more affordable models, cut down on some of the needless hi-spec and give the public affordability so more people can join the reading revolution. Sony, in my eyes, have given us that with their entry level model, the Prs300. In December their new wireless model, the Daily Edition, will hit the stores and slot straight in to the high end of the market, retailing at an expected $399 US. What the Prs 600 Touch Edition does is compromises and gives buyers a real choice. It sells at $299, the same price as the wireless Kindle 2, but offers potential purchasers the obvious differences between the two models.

Although this is not the first Sony touch screen model, it has to be said, it is unrecognizable from the Prs 700 that included a backlight. Done to improve readability in strong sunlight, it’s inclusion only resulted in poor contrast and higher than necessary battery load, due to having to keep the light on even in normal reading conditions. Things move on and eInk have made massive improvements in their e-paper technology, since the release of the Prs700 back in early 2008. Gone has the back light, draining the battery every couple of days, you can now buy a cover for your digital eBook reader that includes a light, but this will set you back another $50 or more. The touch edition does not have the elegant case of past models, but does however come with a neoprene cover giving the devices display protection, unlike either the DX or 2 from Kindle that don’t include a case of any description.

Let’s take a closer inspection of the main reason to opt to buy the Touch Edition over the Kindle2, the touch screen.

No button to turn the page with this Sony digital book reader, a simple swipe of the finger, customizable to the left or right, results in the page being turned backwards or forwards. Not exactly how you would turn a real page but as close as dam it and a step closer in my mind to that missing link between user and machine.

By double tapping a word on screen you can discover the words meaning from an in built Dictionary. The book marking facility can be accessed through the touch screen too, just double tap in the corner of the display to add or remove bookmarks. Options is also accessed through the screen, making this probably the most intuitive digital eBook reader in the price range, bringing up the menu on screen so you can operate the digital drawing tool or highlighter. Any drawing or highlighting you make is then saved to be downloaded at a later date, with support for PC or Mac.

Another handy feature, one I can see myself using regularly, accessed through the touch screen is Text memo, where you are able to store any notes such as contact names and numbers, shopping lists, in fact most anything you need to remember. In place of a keyboard like the one used on the Kindle, which is visible on the device at all times, the Sony Digital Book Reader displays one on screen. This small point makes the Prs600 more elegant and pleasing to the eye than other digital eBook reader devices, notably the Kindle. You can also use the handwriting option from the screen, which lets you use the supplied stylus or even your finger to make notes, transfer them to word and then edit and export them.

As I said at the top of this article, the Touch Edition does not use wireless connectivity, to connect to the online book-store, but by using your computer and the USB 2.0 supplied you are able to download straight from the Sony eBook Store. Here you can access free ebooks from the 1 million plus titles in Google’s library and the library finder can direct you to libraries in you locality that give you a three week, free rental service on digital books, for use on your digital eBook reader. Handy feature Sony. The Sony Digital Book Reader is available in red, black and a silver livery, and the touch screen, wireless PRS600 will fill a niche in the market that, in contrast to what the industry experts predicted, will make it an important component in the Sony Digital Book Reader family.

Used EBook Reader Reviews – Sony Digital Book Reader Prs505 Review

Get ready for a big influx of used eBook reader devices hitting eBay and Amazon and as such, more eBook reader reviews. A mix of Christmas and the recent release of the new range of Sony digital book reader should see more second user models, like the prs505, for sale.

Some of the first generation models are now getting on for three years old, and given these were purchased by consumers who like to own the cutting edge technology, expect these to be swapped in for today’s new generation of devices as there has never been a better time to buy than now.

Price changes aside, other important changes are going on in the electronic book market, one of the main changes being a shift towards some kind of industry standard file format. It certainly looks like it could be the ePub standard if recent developments are anything to go by.

How is this going to be of any consequence when considering which used eBook reader you are going to buy. Well, let’s take the Sony prs505 for example, as this will, without doubt, be one of the devices being traded in.

When this device was released times where very different, the two biggest sellers, Amazon and Sony, where going down the proprietary route, and offered little or no support for any other format, in particular any that let you access free content.

In today’s market place, everything is now all about giving the customer freedom to purchase or download for free, from any source. To do this the new generation of eBook reading devices, the new Sony digital book reader edition range being a good point in case, have to give the user the tools to do it. ePub and PDF are the formats of free content, and in Sony’s case they did not support either on their first gen models and shame on you Amazon Kindle, neither the Kindle 1 or 2 have natural support for either format.

The complete Google library is printed in both PDF and ePub, libraries publish in ePub – see where this is going? – and now all the major online bookstores (except Amazon that is) print their titles in ePub. This allows users of eBook readers, that have support for these file formats, choice…choice of where to buy their electronic books, choice to download and read thousands and even hundreds of thousands of free public domain titles, choices they have never had before.

Where does that leave the Sony prs 505, there is no need for a review, as such, there are plenty about to know the features and design/build quality of this model, but there is a need for an update of how it fits in to the landscape today.

I can keep this short and sweet. With the way things have gone regarding the emergence of ePub as the industry standard in everything but name, as a used eBook reader this Sony digital book reader does not even warrant consideration.

With no ePub or PDF support the prs-505 will leave you unable to take advantage of so many free titles, there are far better equipped second hand eBook readers coming on to the market. Try looking for some of the lesser known models like the Cooler or Bebook, both have ePub and PDF support, which is what you need. Check out some of my other eBook reader reviews, be patient and that used eBook reader will turn up, just make sure it’s not a used Sony digital book reader.

The Difference Between Digital Books and Ebooks

Most people today, don’t know the difference between a digital book and an ebook. In fact, many people think they are one and the same. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. They are entirely different species of the same animal.

Digital books

Digital books, sometimes also called electronic books or PDF books, are scanned, digital facsimiles of standard printed, published books. You can think of them as enhanced copies of the actual hard or paperback books we have come to know and love.

When we are talking about the digital version of newer publications, they are pretty much identical to the original. When talking about old or even ancient publication, they are much better than any original you would find on the shelf of your local library. Since they are facsimiles of the original printing, this really increases quality and helps overcome the problems of many older books, such as yellowed pages, stains, see-through or onion skin type paper, colored paper, brown inks, etc. These are scanned pages, not ‘copied’ pages, and the quality of print truly represents a better quality than the print of the original book.

The great majority of digital books come in PDF format, though Amazon offers a Kindle edition, Mobipocket offers the MOBI version, then there is the plain TEXT format, as well as many others.

Digital books are usually far less expensive than their hard or paperback counterparts, and there are hardly ever shipping costs, unless they are delivered on a CD (Compact Disk).

Ebooks

Ebooks are digital books too, but they were designed and written for the internet. Many, if not most ebooks were never officially “published” at all, unless you count posting something on the internet as publishing.

Most ebooks were meant to be written quickly, with little or no expenses except for possibly distribution. The majority are short, almost always less than 100 pages, usually under 50 pages. Some ebooks are literally slapped together in a matter of hours. Often they are little more than several short reports combined together.

Many ebooks are self-help books, or manuals of some kind, though there are some eBook works of history and fiction to be found if you look for them. More often than not, they have little or no literary value, their intentions being the distribution of facts, instructions and/or ideas.

Sometimes you may come across the eBook version of a hard or soft cover book. It will even be called the “ebook version” of whatever book. But if you look closer, you will find that this eBook version is almost always far fewer pages than the original. You may as well call the “ebook version” the “condensed version” of the book.

Though you will find many ebooks in PDF format, much like digital books, but many come as various generic interactive applications. But don’t let the initial attraction of interaction fool you. Even if this sounds like high tech education at first, you will find that there is not much to the promise of interaction. It just disguises the fact that these books are short, technically no more than a few pages, with little to no real practical, and even less academic value.

Last but not least, ebooks are often free or cheap, though you will occasionally find some specialty instruction “programs” costing hundred of dollars.

Conclusion

Technically, ebooks are digital books, though practically there is a big difference. Personally, I usually prefer a digital book to its eBook cousin.

By Thomas A. Retterbush