Sony Reader PRS-T1 is the lightest and most compact ereader to date with wireless access to public library ebooks. It also has comes with three color choices to personalize your unique style. Which one tickles your fancy? White, black or red?
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It is almost impossible to review the newly released Sony eReader PRS-T1 without glancing back at the “evolution”. One puzzling question I have is: What’s Sony’s overall strategy in the ereader market?
Let’s take a closer look at the timelines and product releases:
- September 2006, Sony Reader PRS-500 (PRS stands for “Portable Reader System”) was introduced in the U.S. market.
- November 2006, Sony eReaders were sold exclusively at the Borders stores in the U.S.
- October 2008, Sony announced the PRS-700 with touch screen and built-in lighting. The model has since been discontinued.
- August 2009, Sony introduced two new ebook readers, the budget PRS-300 Pocket Edition and the more advanced PRS-600 Touch Edition.
- August 25, 2009, the Reader PRS-900 Daily Edition was announced by Sony. PRS-900 sported a 7” diagonal screen to rival Amazon’s Kindle DX. Sony PRS 900 was the first in the market with two major features: 1) Free 3G wireless through AT &T to access the Sony eBookstore without accessing to a computer. 2) The grayscale level was increased to 16 from 8, hence the sharper and crispier text.
- September 2010, Sony released PRS-350 Pocket Edition and PRS-650 Touch Edition to replace the predecessors, PRS-300 and PRS-600. Both new editions were equipped with touchscreen and 16-level gray scale. The new releases were also expanded to Australia and New Zealand for the first time.
- August 2011, Sony announced a new reader replacing all of their previous models, the PRS-T1, featuring a 6” display screen among other enhancements.
Clearly, Sony was one of the first pioneers in the ereader space, ahead of Kindle and Nook. Sony, as a brand of consumer electronics, has always been reputed for its innovation, quality and design. From the evolution, one can reasonably assume that Sony was positioned to be the leader. What had happened?
Some cited that Sony wanted to be in the ereader game with its head, but not with its heart. I would have to agree with the observation, simply from the meandering path Sony has taken over the past 5 years. I certainly hope that Sony’s management will get their act together either to win it or just get out of the way. OK, enough ranting on Sony’s strategy (or lack of).
Sony Reader Wi-Fi is another excellent ereader choice backed up by Sony. With the recent price drop, Sony is positioned to compete with Kindle and Nook in both price and features. Three color choices offer flexibility to make a personal statement. Do you prefer the elegant black? The fiery red? Or the pristine white?
Sony PRS-T1 is not meant for rich content consumption as it is in a tablet. This reader doesn’t come with 3G option.
With standard 6”, Sony PRS-Ti has the same E Ink Peal display conducive to prolonged reading. Get lost in Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity or Nora Roberts’ The Next Always: Book One of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy without glare, without annoying ads, indoors or outside.
This Reader doesn’t come with a built-in accelerometer. You have to change the screen orientation from portrait to landscape and vice versa manually.
Like its competitors, Sony offers 8 font sizes and 6 font styles. The font styles in Sony Reader gives it a marginal edge over its rivals.
Sony eReader Wi-Fi sports the lightest ereader in the market place with only 5.9 ounces. Whether you like to read for hours, or you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, this eReader will be a great companion.
The overall dimensions are the most compact as well (6.8 x 4.3 x 0.35 inches). You can easily slip it into your purse, your cargo pocket or your carry-on bag.
Sony always prides itself in the design elements in their electronics. PRS-Ti is no exception. The Reader is the narrowest among all Sony Readers, marking its stylish and svelte look. The design and light weight lends itself so well for reading with one hand.
The eReader is made of light plastic replacing the previous aluminum material, hence the reduction in overall weight. One side effect of the plastic material is it tends to show marks and finger prints on a glossy surface.
Sony PRS-T1 is equipped with touchscreen. In addition, it also has a row of navigation buttons at the bottom of the device for (from left to right): page back, page forward, home, return, and menu. It is an added bonus for those who like to have the option when holding the Reader with one hand.
One of the benefits for having a Sony eReader is that you can check out books from your local public library wirelessly to your Reader. There is a built-in public library icon for you to locate local libraries, browse, check out and download ebooks for free. There is no need to fuss about overdue library books as the ebooks will expire automatically. All you need is your library card and an Adobe account.
There are over 2 million book titles, newspapers and magazines in Sony’s Reader Store for you to choose from. From a few customer reviews, it sounds like buying content from Sony Reader Store is far from effortless.
Another exceptional feature is that Sony Reader has 12 dictionaries, two of which are Oxford English based, and the rest of them are bilingual dictionaries. If you travel overseas often, it may be a very handy translation tool when you are getting ready to order a French wine to kick off your Happy Hour in Paris.
Sony PRS-T1 doesn’t stand out among the competition in its hardware. The Reader Wi-Fi has 2GB of built-in storage, up to 1,200 books. Similar to Nook, Sony Reader also offers the function to add a SD memory card to beef up the storage to 32GB. The battery is supposed to last up to five weeks of reading with Wi-Fi off.
The Reader offers free Wi-Fi, but not 3G.
At the time of this review, the price for Sony Reader PRS-T1 is from $99. On Sony’s website, it also offers a few bundled options. For example, you can get a Reader Wi-Fi Travel Bundle with the Reader, a matching cover with light and a U.S. AC adapter for $173.98. Or another option is Reader Wi-Fi Starter Bundle, including the Reader device, matching cover with light and $25 Reader Store gift card priced for $194.98.
Sony eReader, USB cable, A Quick Start Guide, and a stylus. By the way, there isn’t a slot to slip the stylus in the device in case you care to know.
In Sony’s website, there is a 4-star rating for the device, but strangely enough, I don’t know what Sony bases its star-rating from. Unlike Amazon, there is no actual customer’s feedback on Sony’s website. When I checked out what’s being said by Amazon customers, it also shows a 4-star out of 5 rating.
Here are some of the actual reviews by Amazon customers:
- “Nice update to a solid often over looked reader.”
- “I bought the reader Sony PRS T1 to read documents and books. The item is very convenient and light. Using a leather cover it looks like a real pocket book, containing a lot of information.”
- “Excellent eReader.”
The common complaint for the device is in the software. Words often used by frustrated customers are “sluggish, frequent crashes and mysterious hangs…”
You can buy a Sony e reader from multiple online and retail outlets such as Sony’s online store, Amazon and Best Buy. Each outlet has price variation depending on the promotions and bundling options at the time.