So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sony Reader Wi-Fi Touch (PRS-T1) eBook reader
Sony’s new eBook reader is a definite Kindle competitor
- High quality screen
- Long battery life
- Complicated interface
- No built-in Google Books store
Sony's touch-sensitive, Wi-Fi enabled eBook reader is a solid product, although you'll need to want the extra features afforded by the touchscreen for it to be worth buying over the cheaper and more intuitive Amazon Kindle.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
The Amazon Kindle revolutionised the electronic book-reading market, and spawned a wide range of upstart competitors. Alongside the Nook and the Kobo, Sony’s Reader is one of the most distinguished Kindle alternatives, and the Wi-Fi Touch is the latest model.
Sony Reader Wi-Fi Touch: Design
The Sony Reader Wi-Fi Touch (PRS-T1, to use its Sony-mandated official model number) has a thin bezel around its 6in e-Ink Pearl touchscreen display, finished in either black, white, or a pinkish red. All three colours have a brushed metal lower bezel in a slightly different secondary colour, with the Sony logo and notations for the Reader Wi-Fi Touch’s five front buttons printed on. The bezel is glossy, which might be distracting if you’re reading in sunlight or in an office.
The Reader Wi-Fi Touch’s five front buttons handle page turns and navigation through the Home, Return and contextual Menu keys. A recessed power button on the bottom of the Reader locks and unlocks it, sitting next to a headphone jack and microUSB port. There’s a microSD card slot hidden on the e-reader’s back panel.
Unlike the Kindle there are no shoulder buttons for changing pages, so if you’re holding the Sony e-reader in one hand you’ll have to reach with your thumb for the lower bezel buttons. Alternatively, you could use the touchscreen — one of the features is that a left or right swipe turns the page, as we quickly learned when trying to wipe some dust off the screen.
The touchscreen responds well to input, and while we wouldn’t use it for taking long notes or for writing a novel, it’s perfectly functional for searching Sony’s Reader Store or for entering a Wi-Fi network password. Being an infrared touchscreen, you don’t actually have to touch the Reader Wi-Fi Touch’s display at all — as long as your fingertip is within about a millimetre of the screen an input is registered; we appreciated not having to tap the touchscreen hard to get it to work. We did occasionally accidentally brush it while holding the Reader, accidentally turning a page, but this is something prospective users will quickly learn to avoid.
Sony Reader Wi-Fi Touch: Ease of use and interface
The Sony Reader Wi-Fi Touch’s menu is relatively easy to navigate, but its layout is often disjointed with an eclectic mix of pictures, text and icons. It lacks the interface fluidity that makes products like the iPad so innately usable. Strangely, only a single book is ever listed in the ‘Continue Reading’ section, so if you’re the kind of person who flicks between several at once you’ll probably prefer the Amazon Kindle’s default list of several recently read books. We also preferred the text-only main menu layout of the Kindle, although when both e-readers are in the middle of a good book (as they should be 99 per cent of the time) there is little difference. Skipping pages is easier on the Reader, with the touchscreen affording the ability to quickly drag the progress bar to move forward or back quickly.
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