The Sony Reader may not be the first option on everyone's list, but everyone should give it a good, long look before making a final decision. That's even more true with the latest version, the Daily Edition (otherwise known as the PRS-950).
The form factor is in the same neighborhood as the better known Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. Sony's model measures 5 inches wide x 8.1 inches tall x 0.7 inches thick and weighs 12.7 oz.
That puts it on the slightly larger side of the scale, but still well within coat pocket range. No one will suffer from hand or arm fatigue with this baby. By the way, a leather-like cover ships with the device, unlike with the Kindle, which offers one only as a hefty-price add-on.
The screen, not surprisingly given the company's long history in the TV and PC space, does them proud here. The 7.1 inch E Ink screen is a bit larger than the Kindle's (and Nook's) 6 inch displays.
The difference can be noticeable, given that the larger size is much closer to the standard paperback text area. It achieves the size by foregoing the physical keyboard found on the Kindle, substituting a touchscreen instead.
The page display is reasonably zippy, as most E Ink screens are, albeit a little slower than an LCD. No one will have any reason to squint, either, thanks to a dedicated Size button that allows you to choose any of six typeface sizes from Small to Extra-Extra Large.
There's no onboard accelerometer to automatically flip the text when you change from portrait to landscape, but you can do it manually with ease. Swiping the touchscreen (to move from one page to the next) is another nice feature for those still fond of physical books, as most avid readers are. Holding the pressure at the end of a swipe allows flipping through multiple pages at high speed, too.
The newer Sony model is especially welcome for adding wireless 3G, which enables reasonably fast downloads virtually anywhere. Wi-Fi hotspots are proliferating but you still need to be near one to use that service. The 3G network is almost everywhere. And now you can download books, periodicals, and documents without being tethered to the PC or Mac, unlike previous models.
When you've connected to that network you'll be glad that the Sony Daily Edition offers an optional memory card in the form of either a microSD or Memory Stick Pro. Download as many books (in ePub or other formats), PDFs, Word docs, and more as you want and never worry about having to delete anything to make room for more. And, unlike the Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble Nook, the Sony can get content from any eBook source around including the Sony store, which offers a million titles.
That storage space will come in even handier if you like to load up with a lot of MP3s to listen to while reading. And, given the support for AAC audio you'll have an even wider range of listening content from which to choose. The Reader also provides a place to put images, which the Daily Edition supports in the form of JPGs, GIFs, PNGs, and BMPs.
Yes, the Sony Reader Daily Edition (PRS-950) has definitely earned a place on every eReader buyer's "must see" list.
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