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Sony Reader Touch and Amazon Kindle 3 go head-to-head

Review It's an e-reader off
Mon Sep 20 2010, 12:20

GET YOUR READERS READY as The INQUIRER compares the Sony Reader Touch, which is on sale today, and Amazon's WiFi enabled Kindle 3.


The devices both come in with 6in displays, but the Kindle is slightly larger at 190 x 123 x 8.5mm, compared to the Touch at 168 x 119 x 10mm.

At 241g, the Kindle is also slightly heavier than the 220g Reader Touch.

The Sony Reader now comes with the same e-ink screen as the Kindle although it is capable of touch input as well. We tested the Reader outside, and there was no glare from sunlight on the Reader. In fact, reading text was just as comfortable outside as inside.

Although the Kindle screen has a matte finish, very bright light, for example the sun or a spotlight that is directly perpendicular to it, will result in some reflected glare. However, tilting the screen by a degree or two is enough to eradicate this.

Winner: Sony Reader

The Sony Reader is very responsive to finger and stylus input. Users can tap text to highlight or to get a definition of the word. The notes and annotation feature also allows users to highlight passages and jot down notes within the text.

Writing with the stylus isn't the best, as you have to push quite hard and it is not possible to write much in the small space available between lines of text. Nevertheless, this is a good feature which Sony can build on for future models. Any annotations are saved and can be exported as a Word document when the e-reader is connected to a PC.

The Sony Reader supports EPUB, PDF, BBeB, Text, RTF, Word, JPEG, PNG, GIF and BMP, MP3 and AAC formats.

The current generation of the Kindle has no touch capabilities. Instead it has a physical Qwerty keyboard which is small and quite fiddly. While it is possible to take notes on the Kindle, there is no annotation feature.

The Kindle supports its own AZW format along with TXT, PDF, Audible, MP3, unprotected MOBI and PRC natively. Other formats, including HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP are all supported via the Kindle's automatic file-conversion tool.

Winner: Sony Reader

Perhaps the most important feature for an e-reader, aside from the screen quality, is the number of books it can store. The Sony Reader comes with 2GB of onboard memory, 1.4GB of which is available for use. The Reader is capable of storing 1,200 e-books as standard according to Sony's specifications, but also supports Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD cards, so in theory it has unlimited capacity.

Amazon includes 4GB of memory with the Kindle, with 3.3GB available for user, so it can store 3,500 e-books. However, there is no additional storage option.

Winner: Sony Reader

The Sony Reader does not come with any wireless connectivity. The device has to be synced up to a PC or Mac to transfer books. Users are able to download over 500,000 books from Sony, as the manufacturer has made a deal with Google.

The device also supports free loans from local libraries. There are 50 libraries that support this service, and books can be downloaded from home and transferred to the e-reader.

Amazon sells Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi plus 3G readers, so books can be downloaded without having to synchronise the device to a PC or Mac. Books can be purchased from the Amazon Bookstore directly from the device on-the-go. It is estimated that there are over 415,000 titles available, plus one million free books.

Winner: Amazon Kindle

Battery life
The Sony Reader is capable of a claimed 10,000 page views on a single charge, and Sony said that the battery will last two to three weeks before needing to be recharged.

Battery life for the Kindle is one month with wireless off, according to the manufacturer. The Wi-Fi-only model lasts up to three weeks with the wireless, while the power-hungry 3G drops this to 10 days.

Winner: Amazon Kindle

Pricing and availability
Like all Sony devices, the Reader Touch isn't cheap. It's available from Waterstones for £199.99. Those looking for more portability may want to look at the smaller 5in Reader Pocket edition, which ships for £159.99.

The Kindle Wi-Fi is available for the aggressively low price of £109, and the Wi-Fi + 3G version is priced at £149 making it ideal for those who are on a budget. Both are available now from the retailer's website.

Winner: Amazon Kindle


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