I popped over to the London Transport Museum today so that Sony could show of the latest models of its two eReaders, both of which come complete with a Google books link but no wireless technology. The snazzy new Reader Pocket edition and the Reader Touch edition will be available in stores from the 17th September.
Sony has restyled both devices, reducing their size and weight and kitting them out with touch screen and E Ink Pearl electronic paper technology (with 800x600 resolutions and sixteen levels of greyscale). Both models come with 2GB of onboard memory, which equates to 1,200 books.
Google books has also been built into the devices, offering a link through the Sony Reader website which owners can use to download any of the 500,000 Reader-compatible books available for free. Sony hopes this number will be closer to one million by the end of the year. Digital books can also be downloaded through local library websites, automatically returning themselves after 14 or 21 days.
Other new features for the next generation devices include a built in Oxford Dictionary of English- which can be reached by double-tapping on any word, ten translation dictionaries and automatic multiple page creation, which makes larger documents easier to read on a smaller screen. Users can also customise their screen saver with their favorite photos and highlight areas of text for uploading or annotation with s single swipe.
Omar Gurnah, Reader category manager for Sony UK said: "The success of our previous line of Reader products illustrates book lovers' demand for open format and full touch screens on their digital reading devices. Our big job now is to educate more casual book users. We're not worried about the Kindle in Europe, and in the UK specifically it is nice to have some competition, but we're confident about our product range." He added: "We've got a bigger job on our hands in the US, which is two to three years ahead of the UK digitally. We did extensive consumer research about wireless technology, which the Kindle does offer, but the response was that UK customers didn't want it. They would rather have a greater access to books. If you take a random look at the top twenty e-books for example, only nine of them will ever be available on the Kindle."
Gurnah explained that in order to employ wireless technology, they would need to set up an online store, he also stated that Sony is looking into colour e-ink technology, but that at the moment it is not good enough: "We don't see the point in doing something if we can't do it properly and at the moment colour e-ink technology only offers four colours. We're hoping full colour e-ink will be available within a year though."
The new Reader Pocket Edition PRS-350 has a five-inch touch screen and is available in silver and (in true technological gender diversification) hot-pink. The Reader Touch Edition PRS-650 features a six-inch touch screen, with a slot for up to 32GB of additional memory. It comes in black and silver and has the ability to play Mp3 and AAC audio photos.
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