Review: Sony Reader Wi-Fi
- — 12 March, 2012 22:00
|Name||eBook reader: Sony Reader Wi-Fi (PRS-T1)|
|At a glance:||eInk Pearl screen makes for clear text,Reader Store isn't available yet, Also stores music and handwritten memos|
|Summary:||A great little reader, but there's no eBook store available.|
It took me a week to discover that I could turn pages in the Sony PRS-T1 eBook reader by swiping my finger right to move a page forward, or left to move a page back. My natural instinct was just to press the side of the page, as you can on an iPad, to turn the page. When I tried that in the PRS-T1, nothing happened. As a result, I didn’t even think to attempt any other touch-based page turning until I accidentally swiped and found, like magic, that it turned pages.
As you may have gathered from the above anecdote and tribute to my denseness, the Sony PRS-T1 is a six-inch, tablet-style eBook reader with a touchscreen interface. It doesn’t only work by touch: you can also navigate most basic functions using five buttons at the base of the device.
The design itself is shiny plastic on the front, with a rubberised rear that’s nice and grippy, though we managed to give it a few scuffs and dings from just a few days use.
On the curved bottom of the reader is a power/wake button, headphone jack, and USB port. The PRS-T1 can store music (or audiobooks) as well as books and notes. I’m not that wedded to the idea of listening to music on an eBook reader, but I tried the sample tracks and they were crisp and clear – giving the impression that audiobook performance would also be capable.
The reader is Wi-Fi enabled, and connected to our network smoothly. This allows for connection to the ReaderStore direct from the device. Or it would, except that the reader store doesn’t open until this Autumn. Similarly, clicking on Google Books within the reader produces a message that ReaderStore is coming soon. It’s all a little disappointing, and means that the only way to add books at the moment is through direct transfer from a PC. That means that you can, for example, transfer any Kobo books you might have across, or buy books from the Kobo store or other such services. I attempted to transfer Kindle books through the Sony reader software, but needed additional software, Calibre, to perform the conversion to the ePub format needed.
The PRS-T1 uses eInk Pearl technology, which makes for crisp text – and the background is a pale grey, making it friendly to the eyes. Unlike the Kobo, which we reviewed in November, the PRS-T1 flashes the screen to black and then back to text for each page refresh. It’s fast enough, but after the Kobo’s default 4-page refresh, and ability to customise how frequently it refreshes, I found it a little disconcerting to have the black flash for each page turn. This may also affect battery life, since Sony measure it in terms of page turns, but I didn’t manage to drain the battery in my week-long test.
You can set the font to one of eight sizes, which work out to cover a range from 7-point font through to around 28-point font, using a choice of seven fonts, which makes it suitable for readers of all skill levels and visual acuity.
As with most eBook readers, it will save the page that you’re reading should you close the book or turn off the reader. You can also add a bookmark to any page for later reference. Finally, selecting any single word means you can look it up in the dictionary, or opt to search Wikipedia or Google for that word. As someone who frequently googles facts in books I’m reading, I loved this. You can also add a note or highlight a word.
There are more settings, options and features, although they feel a little skimpy compared to the Kobo Touch. Altogether however, this is a solid and capable reader.