Hands-on with the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

Hands-on with the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

Summary: According to my Sony eBook Library account I registered my Reader 505 back in 2007. I purchased a Kindle and then moved onto a Kindle 2 over the last year, but sold my Kindle 2 last week after seeing the Sony announcements and support for local library books. After the horrible backlit touchscreen implementation seen on the PRS-700 I was wary of buying the Touch Edition or Daily Edition with the touchscreen, but I then read a review from a friend who is an avid ebook reader over on Mobile Tech Review and that was the last thing I needed to push me over the top.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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According to my Sony eBook Library account I registered my Reader 505 back in 2007. I purchased a Kindle and then moved onto a Kindle 2 over the last year, but sold my Kindle 2 last week after seeing the Sony announcements and support for local library books. After the horrible backlit touchscreen implementation seen on the PRS-700 I was wary of buying the Touch Edition or Daily Edition with the touchscreen, but I then read a review from a friend who is an avid ebook reader over on Mobile Tech Review and that was the last thing I needed to push me over the top. Check out my image gallery that shows my new Red PRS-600 and PRS-505, along with my video and first thoughts below.


Image Gallery:Check out several product photos of the Sony Touch Edition and 505 with a library book on board. Image Gallery: Reader Touch Edition Image Gallery: Hardware buttons

Box contents and initial setup

The Sony Reader Touch Edition comes in a fairly compact box and inside you will find the Reader, sleeve slip case, USB cable, and Quick Start Guide. The black sleeve is similar to the case that came with my first Sony PSP. You charge up your Sony Reader with the USB cable so that is why no A/C charger is provided.

I plugged my new PRS-600 into my MacBook Pro and a pop-up informed me there was a new version of the software available (1.0.01.08040). I hit OK and updated my device. I understand this update fixed an issue with memory cards. It sure is nice to have the ability to manage my Sony library and perform updates on my MBP.

Initial impressions

Even though the second generation Amazon Kindle is a much improved piece of hardware over the first generation, IMHO these Sony Reader devices still are even better, rock solid devices. I was very pleased to see that the $299.99 priced PRS-600 has about the same dimensions as the 505. The back of the PRS-600 is covered in soft touch material so you get a better grip on the Reader. Sony uses metal around the front and on the spine and it just feels fantastic in your hand. The same ports, slots, and connectors are included on the 600 as what we have seen on the 505.

The UI is completely different though with navigation focused on the touch screen while still have a few selected buttons along the bottom of the display for quick navigation purposes.

Around the hardware

The front is dominated by the 6 inch touchscreen with five buttons below the bottom silver band under the display. From left to right you will find the back arrow, forward arrow, home button, size button, and options button.

The lanyard opening, reset button, power port, miniUSB port, 3.5mm headset jack and volume toggle are located on the bottom. A rather long metal and plastic stylus lives in a silo on the right side. There are two memory cards slots (Memory Stick Duo and Secure Digital) located along the top with the power slider. The back is covered in soft touch material so you can grip and hold onto your Reader.

Using the touchscreen

Looking at the home screen you will find Continue Reading, Books, All Notes, and Collections in way of large buttons in the upper part of the front. Below these you will find buttons for Text Memo, Handwriting, and More.

If you select Text Memo then you can enter text by tapping away on the soft keyboard. Handwriting memos let you use the stylus to enter a note. There are no pen sizes to switch in the utility. Pressing More takes you to Audio, Pictures, and Settings. Pictures actually look pretty good on the device, but I haven't tried audio yet.

There are eight available settings on the main display with a link to Advanced settings where you will find eight more options. One advanced setting is the ability to customize the home menu.

I am finding the display to be quite responsive to my finger presses and like using touch on an ereader.

More first thoughts

One of my big worries was the clarity of the text and so I was quite pleased to find it is almost the same as the PRS-505, which is the best eInk display I have ever seen. There is a slight difference, but nothing like the lame PRS-700.

I have also read of people finding too much glare from the touch layer. There is some minor glare in bright lights, but it hasn't been an issue for me and I am still very impressed with the clarity and fonts. Speaking of fonts, you have five available font sizes to use for clear reading.

The integrated dictionary is very slick and one reason I wanted to pick up the 600. It works similar to the one I had on my Amazon Kindle.

I plan to spend a lot more time with my new Reader, but if you have questions then feel free to post them and I will try to write up some follow-up thoughts in a few weeks.

UPDATE: My MobileTechRoundup podcast co-host, Kevin Tofel, wrote up a nice story on my Sony Reader experiences in the New York Times.

Topic: Hardware

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25 comments
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  • Books

    Did you get the Cory Doctorow books from Project Gutenberg? If so, what format did you download them in?
    Azathoth
  • Connectivity?

    The Sony sounds like it's worth a look, but I didn't see much about connectivity. Does the PRS-600 include lifetime free wireless like the Kindle, or must it be tethered to a computer to browse and download books? If the latter, can the PRS-600 plug into any computer (such as at a library or community center) or does it require special software to be installed on the host computer?

    Thanks!
    gafisher@...
    • Drag and drop

      Any computer with an internet connection and the ability to use the USB ports can drag and drop files to the Sony Reader or either of the card slots in the Reader! The software is only needed in the case of DRMed books! So if you want books from the Library you would need to use the software installed on your own computer and the Reader that is registered to it!
      leopards
      • Clarification... :-)

        I use Sony software to re-paginate books in BBeB format (created using Book Designer) since this format is still the fastest.

        The above is true if you create/convert books yourself.

        And like you pointed out - there is no real need for the Sony software on a deskopt/laptop/netbook machine if you use RTF/EPub/TEXT format: just drop it into the book folder of the device and the reader will pick it up.
        Solid Water
    • re: Connectivity

      Wireless access is one of those "features" that is not really needed by 95% of the people who would actually buy an ebook reader. I would much rather NOT have it and especially NOT pay for it.
      dmclean@...
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

    you can get them from Feedbooks.com and in ePub or pdf, either of which works great!
    leopards
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

    Please tell us more about Overdrive and rules for
    borrowing e-books from the library. Also is a special
    Acrobat Reader necessary as on a computer?
    herms13
    • PDF's on the Sony

      If you want to read standard (A4) pdf's, don't bother with the Sony Reader. I own a PRS-500 and a 505, and while Sony puts the Acrobat logo on the box and claims the devices wll read pdf's, they do not do it well- their screens are too small. If you want to read A4 pdf's, only one reader currently on the market does it well- the Kindle DX.
      wjgrimm
      • re: PDF's on the Sony

        While this is generally true, it can be gotten around for most files by using PDF conversion software such as the open source Calibre product:

        http://calibre.kovidgoyal.net/
        dmclean@...
        • PDF conversion

          I have tried converting pdf documents to ereader-compatible formats since the days when I bought my Rocketbook, and I can tell you that no software does a perfect job of it. Not Adobe Acrobat Pro, or anything else. Best I found was Iceni Gemini, anfd it cost me almost $200.
          Saveyour money (and wishful thinking about conversions)- if you want to read A4 pdf's, buy a Kindle DX, or wait for one of the other large-screen readers.
          wjgrimm
          • PDF conversion

            I couldn' t agree more with wjgrimm. I am also tired trying to convert pdf files using Sony PRS-505. I bought a Kindle DX and reading pdf files is no longer a problem.
            tasos@...
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

    hi , i'm intrested in buying an ebook reader but since
    i can't find any here in belgium in Ghent to see how
    they are, i would like to know how good is the Sony in
    displaying PDF books with mathematical equations ?
    same as for PDF with graphs ? or other PDF's like
    programming handbooks ?

    Also i make my own PDF's from online sources like
    instructables.com , can it read that and display it
    satisfactory ?

    thanks in advance,
    phoenixmage2003@...
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

    As a grad (MBA) student - how well does this ereader handle PDF documents? - trying to go paperless
    mooredlm@...
    • PDF's

      I have owned about 10 readers, starting with the Rocketbook and including a Sony Prs-500 nd 505. Sony claims "pdf support," but reading a standard A4 pdf's on the Sony readers really sucks. Only one device currently on the market- the Kindle DX- will display A4 pdf's well.
      wjgrimm
  • Sony Reader PRS-600

    What good is a review without a price for the reviewed product? Did I miss something?
    hawkeye96
    • Nope, I missed it

      Sorry about that, I forgot to put that in the first impressions article and just added it. FYI, it is priced at $299.99 while the non-touch slightly smaller Pocket Edition is $199.99 and the upcoming Daily Edition (touch and AT&T wireless) is $399.99.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

    I think the Sony Reader has a great chance of making itself a major part of the e-reader market place. Interesting article on e-reader names over here: http://onthebutton.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/books-are-so-yesterday/
    roselinke
  • Any blank books available?

    Are there blank books available? Say, 100 pages or so? For handwritten notes, dairy entries, etc.
    JohnFLand
  • 8.5x11 pdfs and pictures

    How does it handle 8.5x11 pdfs and pictures? In the pictures of the Sony device there were no pictures of it displaying pictures. I read where the Kindle does not do a good job on pictures.

    What is it like in the zoom mode? Is panning in zoom mode easy and smooth? How large does it zoom?

    What is the technology behind it's display?

    Are the pictures of its "paper" pretty accurate as to the shade of color? Can it be changed?

    Questions, questions. I guess I just need to see one in person.
    biz@...
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

    are college text books available for the Sony touch edition PRS600?
    Nonny4