It’s incredibly smooth to use and the handling of documents is superb, but it’s expensive and the Kindle has a wider range of new books.
We were massive fans of Sony’s original Reader, the PRS-505. Subsequent models weren’t quite as good, dropping the quality metal case for cheap-feeling plastic and, on the more expensive model, a touchscreen interface that wasn’t particularly quick.
With the Reader PRS-650 Touch Edition Sony has managed to get back on track. For starters, the tiny 6in reader weighs just 215g, and it’s made out of aluminium so that it feels incredibly well made. Even so, we’d have preferred it if the reader shipped with a case, particularly at this price. However, you can buy cases and we recommend it to protect the screen.
In terms of quality, the screen is the same size and resolution as the PRS-505. The updated e-Ink screen here, has 16 levels of grayscale, though, making images look more detailed than on the previous model’s screen.
When we first heard that this model was controlled by a touchscreen we were a little nervous, but Sony’s pulled if off beautifully. In fact, the touchscreen makes this one of the easiest eReaders that we’ve used.
Turning the device on the Home Screen gives you access to all of your books, with the title you’re currently reading highlighted at the top, and a selection of other books underneath. You can tap the screen to view all books and browse through them by Date, Title, Author, File Name or Latest Read. You can also access screens for Applications (picture viewer, music player and so on), and for Settings.
As with previous Sony eReaders, it’s possible to create Collections. The default ones contain books you haven’t read and recently purchased ones, but you can create your own. This is handy if you’re catching up on an entire series of titles and want to group them together.
Reading a book is dead simple, with a swipe of the finger on the screen used to turn a page. A gentle thumb-brush is enough to turn a page, but there are also dedicated buttons at the bottom left. The screen’s incredibly quick to update and the touchscreen interface smooth and responsive to use. The screen’s incredibly sharp and the contrast is perfect for reading large volumes of text.
One of the things we’ve always found about Sony’s eReader products is that they’re designed to making reading easy. This may sound like a stupid statement, but we’ve reviewed products that can’t handle PDFs very well, forcing you to scroll round to read the entire screen. Given that some commercial titles are available in encrypted PDF format this isn’t very handy.
To that end, Sony has come up with some very clever way of dealing with text. First, you can increase the font size, which reflows the text and increases the number of pages. Secondly, there’s a Zoom option, where you can zoom into the page, but have to scroll round to see everything – this is great for zooming into a diagram in a PDF of a manual. Finally, you can set the page mode.
The options are to leave it at its original size, cut off the margins, or make the page fill the screen. However, the really clever options are to select either a two- or three-column layout. In this mode, turning a page, moves you first to the bottom of one column and then back to the start of the next. In other words, no matter how the content you reading is laid out, you can fit it to the screen in a logical way.
Book support is excellent with the commonly-used ePub and PDF (standard and protected versions of each) both used by the device. You can use either Sony’s Reader Library software or Adobe’s Digital Editions to manage the device. However, if you opt for Adobe’s software you first have to install Reader Library to get the correct drivers.
|Memory card support
|Memory Stick Pro Duo, SDHC
|Battery and charge options
|eReader Battery life
|Wireless networking support
|USB, 3.5mm headphone
|eReader TXT support
|eReader HTML support
|eReader RTF support
|eReader PDF support
|eReader ePub support
|eReader MOBI support
|eReader Amazon AZW support
|eReader Microsoft Word support
|Audio MP3 playback
|Audio WMA playback
|Audio WMA-DRM playback
|Audio AAC playback
|Audio Protected AAC playback
|Audio OGG playback
|Audio WAV playback
|Audio Audible playback
|Image BMP support
|Image JPEG support
|Image TIFF support
|one year RTB