I own both a Sony Reader PRS-505 and Amazon Kindle 2 and have experiences with older models as well. While the Kindle 2 is much improved over the original Kindle (see my latest article) I still find the Sony Reader to be a slicker piece of hardware and just miss the wireless capability found in my Kindle. As Andrew posted Sony announced a new addition to the latest series of Reader devices and it looks like I may just have to sell my Kindle 2 and Sony Reader 505 to pick up the Reader Daily Edition for a couple of reasons that I will detail below. The Reader Pocket and Touch Editions (announced a couple weeks ago) are also very attractive and for someone who doesn't yet have an ebook reader they will appeal to them at lower prices than the Kindle. However, since I already have a couple of them I am looking to upgrade.
Wireless capabilityThe new Sony Reader Daily Edition has integrated 3G like the Amazon Kindle and Kindle DX, yet the Sony Reader service is provided by AT&T while the Kindle's are supported by Sprint. I have very good data connectivity where I live and play with AT&T and extremely poor coverage with Sprint. I actually have to drive to the end of the road to get a decent signal to download books and content on my Kindle. I have mentioned poor AT&T voice coverage recently, but for data I have outstanding coverage and speeds so the Sony is more attractive.
I would really love it if these ebook manufacturers would include a WiFi radio so you could download content in areas with no 3G coverage and I was hoping Sony would do this with these latest models.
KeyboardWhile Amazon made some changes to its keyboard, I find that I really only use the keyboard to help me search their store for titles and think having a keyboard that takes up so much area to be a bit of a waste. Sony makes the most of the viewing experience by implementing a touch screen display with touch sensitive keyboard that appears only when you need it.
MemoryThe first Kindle had a memory card slot, but the current model does not include any expansion capability. There is still plenty of room on the Kindle to hold a ton of content, but the Sony Reader Daily Edition includes integrated memory and memory card expansion slots for even more capacity to hold content.
Format supportThe Sony models include suport for more native content formats than the Kindle, including Adobe PDF (with text reflow capability), EPUB, Word, BBeB, and more. The latest Kindle DX supports Adobe, but the Kindle requires a conversion first.
Library checkout supportA coworker asked me about any ebook readers supporting local libraries and now I can tell him this will be available soon. Sony will provide access to local libraries through their ebook store with the Library Finder application. You will be able to check out ebooks with a valid library card, download to your PC and transfer to your Sony Reader. When the lending period ends, the ebook disappears from your Reader with no late fees to ever worry about. My local library is pretty progressive so I think we may see them supporting this project soon.
Sony also supports public domain books from Google so there is no lack of available content.
Mac supportAs stated on the Sony site, an updated version of the Sony eBook Library Software compatible with Mac OS X operating systems is available now will be available by the end of Summer 2009 for download to your computer to enable you to purchase, organize and download content to your Reader devices. I use a MacBook Pro as my main computer for writing and at home and look forward to managing my library on the Mac very soon. I can do some management of my Kindle via the Amazon website as well, but it isn't the same as a full blown application on a computer.
The Sony Reader Daily Edition will retail for about $399 and I think I have found just what I need for Christmas. The Kindle and Reader 505 may be up on the chopping block very soon.