Technology should make our lives easier
• Very light and slim
• Excellent display for reading
• Sleek design
• Unresponsive touchscreen
• Screen flicker
A sleek design, great display and ultra-light weight are not enough to make up for the poor responsiveness and screen flicker on the Sony Reader Wi-Fi.
The new ereader from technology giant Sony is a very lightweight device, that introduces a touchscreen and a lovely sleek design. We look below to see if the new styling and features are enough to make the Sony Reader Wi-Fi a serious competitor in this crowded market.
As we have mentioned already, the Sony Reader Wi-Fi PRS-T1 is a stylish ereader, which is slim and light in the hand. It is one of the lightest ereader’s on the market, weighing only 0.37 pound. It is available in 3 different colours, black, red and white, and while this might attract some people who like the different colours, the black model is actually the best for reading as it provides a better contrast to the text on screen.
The touchscreen on the Sony Reader Wi-Fi is just 6 inches, and it has a 16 level greyscale at 600x800 pixel resolution. Underneath the screen, there are a row of five buttons that enable you to navigate the menus, return to the home page and turn pages. There is also a stylus pen included, and although there is a clip with it there is nowhere to fix it to the device, so this could go missing fairly quickly.
The back of the device has a smooth rubberized surface, that makes the Sony Reader easy and comfortable to hold, but the black plastic surround attracts fingerprints very easily. There is a MicroSDHC card slot that is underneath a snap-in cover on the back, and a Micro-USB port for charging and transferring data on the bottom of the device, plus a headphone jack and a power/wake button.
The Sony Reader Wi-Fi uses a resistive touchscreen, as a pose to the infrared technology that the Kindle Touch and Barnes & Noble Nook use. Both of these models have more responsive touchscreens, so we feel Sony made a mistake opting not to use this technology on their ereader. There is a short delay (one or two seconds) when turning a page, opening a book or touching a button, even on a fast connection. There is also a distracting flicker on the screen when performing simple tasks such as opening web pages or documents. Page turns are performed in a similar way to on the Kindle Touch, by swiping a finger across the page, but as mentioned earlier these turns aren’t very responsive.
There is the option to turn pages using the row of buttons below the screen. As the page turn buttons are placed to the bottom left of the device, this is easy enough to do using just your left hand, but we found it tricky to do using just the right hand due to their placement. Still, it is nice to see Sony including these buttons for navigation, and not completely losing them as most touchscreen devices have done.
There is an onscreen keyboard on the Sony Reader Wi-Fi, but this could also be faster. We found it impossible to type anything quickly, and even experienced delay and flicker using just one finger to type.
The interface is clear and is easy to navigate, with more focus on thumbnails and large buttons than on other ereaders, which makes the screen layout much more aesthetically pleasing. Content can be automatically organised into individual sections, and this feature worked really well.
The Sony Reader Store offers over 2 million titles, and it seems to contain the majority of top titles (most of New York Times bestsellers for 2012 were up there, and were fairly reasonably priced). Sony Reader also offer access to books from local public libraries, but again this feature is let down slightly by the constant screen flicker.
Disappointingly, there is no 3G option on the Sony Reader Wi-FI, although we found that the Wi-Fi connection was quick and relatively stable. We managed to download Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts in just over a minute, which is certainly comparable with downloads on the Kindle Touch.
Sony claim that a single charge will last for over a month, with half an hour daily reading and the Wi-Fi is switched off. As we know Wi-Fi can really eat into battery life on ereaders, and Sony have solved this by automatically switching to standby mode on this device after 5 minutes of inactivity. The manufacturer also claim the ereader can be fully charged in 2 hours which we found to be accurate. We did find playing music on the device had quite an impact on the battery drain, but no more than on other ereaders with this feature.
The built-in 2GB of storage is actually around 1.3 GB, and will hold up to around 1,200 eBook titles. There is the option of expanding the storage with a 32GB microSD card, which you will definitely need if you to upload music.
Audio – While you can upload music or download audio books, it is worth noting that the Sony Reader Wi-Fi doesn’t have external speakers. Both audio books and music sounded clear and bright through a set of standard headphones.
Overall, the Sony Reader Wi-Fi is competitive with the leading ereaders in certain areas only. It is as light, slim and stylish as any other ereader on the market, and the display is great for simply reading ebooks on. However, the poor touchscreen, slow navigation and constant screen flicker are an issue, making this a hard device to recommend when there are better products available at the moment.
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