Tuesday, September 29, 2009

E-Readers are the holiday's hot ticket - Sony vs Kindle report

L.A. Times predicts
E-Readers are the holiday's
hot ticket.

 Worth quoting:
' Acording to an online survey, 1 in 5 shoppers said they planned to buy an electronic book reader such as a Sony Reader or Amazon Kindle this year.

  When asked what they would like to get as a gift this year, about 1 in 10 cited a digital book reader.

  Portable music players, once the hot holiday ticket, got just 3.4% of the vote, while game consoles came in at 6%, according to the survey commissioned by Retrevo, a gadget review website...

  Of those who said they planned to spring for an electronic book reader, 62% said they would buy Amazon's Kindle 2 or Kindle DX, while 32% favored the Sony Reader... '
One has to wonder if the Sony Readers' presence in stores will increase its percentage of sales over expectations?

Amazon sells Sonys as well as Kindles, but most reviews have been pretty hard on the Sonys.  And the Sony Daily Edition (PRS-2121) won't be released until approximately December.

Gizmodo's review headline: "Too Many Compromises."  Wilson Rothman writes:
  the Sony Touch is "overloaded with tricks but killed by glare"
  and the Sony Pocket is "simplified past the point of goodness."

Rothman's right; few reviewers notice that the Pocket Edition has no study tools (highlighting, notes, searches, in-line dictionary active during a reading session) and of course no whispernet either but they then equate the Sony Pocket with the Kindle 2 for less cost ($200) but they don't, unlike Rothman, let readers know the many reasons the unit is less expensive.

Re the Touch, he just really is put off by the glare caused by the addition of the layer for the touchscreen and writes that "Sony's problem with glare continues unabated." and for that reason he is not optimistic about the coming Daily Edition also with a touchscreen.

Still, some Sony users say that the PRS-600 Touch's glare problem is not as big a problem as was the PRS-700's and that all you need to do is angle it a bit differently when you see glare.

  But Rothman adds, amusingly: "lying in bed, with just my reading light on, I can see the perfect outline of my face.  Sure, I am handsome, but when I read a book, I expect to be staring only at words on the page, not my own lovely mug.  In a well-lit room, the glare from all sides is positively frustrating, and it shifts with every minor adjustment of my hand."  He mentions that the iRex manages to make a touchscreen without glare.

  After giving props to the Sony PRS-300 Pocket Edition for better screen contrast than on the Touch, he adds:
  "The Pocket's problem is that it is barebones to an almost insulting degree: No search, no dictionary, no card reader, no nothin'...
      I could actually live without all of those features save one: Search.
Keyword searching is to future readers what leafing around is to current ones.  Don't remember where you last saw the mysterious man in black?  Do a quick search...

  Because of the lending-library feature due soon ("Overdrive" for e-books from the sets your local library carries -- one Amazon forum member had only 16 in the set at her library), he says "you could get the first reasonably budget reader."  But he ends with, "One thing is for sure, no matter who the competition is, Sony is going to have a rough holiday season if that Daily's screen is anything like the one on the Touch."

  I think that not many reviewers write such a thorough review on the features of all the e-readers -- so, many people won't be aware and Sony may do all right for that reason though there was buyers' remorse with the PRS-700 and they discontinued it earlier than expected.

There are several other long ones out there and I'll add more later on, as they add more detail in some areas.

Thanks to kindle2u for the tweet re the L.A. Times piece. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. Thanks for running this blog! I've found it very helpful :)

    Would you recommend the Sony Reader Touch 600 or the Kindle if one wants to easily view pdf files and textbooks? My parents also want to be able to read foreign ebooks and their argument against the Kindle is that it doesn't support foreign characters.

    Any help would be appreciated!

  2. I have a Sony Reader Touch 600 and a Kindle 2. The Sony is better for .pdf files, and I can use the Sony to borrow multiple library books for a trip, for example. (I like my Kindle 2 a lot, too, though.)

  3. Jennifer,
    The new software version 2.5.2 for the Kindle is being rolled out slowly but has pan and zoom for PDFs that works quite well.

    No PDF reflow but those have been somewhat problematical on all e-readers unless the PDF is a novel and has only one column.

    The Sony definitely has the edge with library books-borrowing.

    One drawback is no Whispernet or WiFi and inability to download a book from wherever you are, including at the airport, but you plan ahead so that's not important.

    And the Sonys are tried and true.

  4. For sales the shiny screen is actually a bonus, no doubt a reason Sony uses them.
    People are like magpies, they're attracted to colourful, shiny, things.
    That's one reason Apple makes their iPods and stuff in polished white (and not other colours like lime green) plastic, it's an eye catcher on store shelves.

    If it's uncomfortable to use while trying it in the store the salesperson will shrug it off as an unfortunate side effect of the harsh fluorescent tube lighting and spotlights in the store, which you won't have at home, right?
    Then once the customer gets home and find things the same there, there's no 30 day return policy without restocking fees. Box is open, no returns unless it's a warranty claim (which something working as designed but not desired never is).

  5. Anonymous (July 19, 2010)

    Yes. For the same reasons, store TVs are set to max brightness and contrast. Eye poppers, on first look. Not so great for regular viewing though.


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