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PRS600 Sony Touch eReader

Last Saturday was my birthday and I was fortunate enough to receive a new PRS600 Sony Touch eReader. This is my second foray into eReader ownership, I have owned a Sony PRS505 since Xmas 2008 and used it daily for nearly two years.  In that time I have both loved it and loathed it for a variety of reasons.

I always felt the quality of finish was lacking on the PRS505. The metallic front always seemed, to me, almost unfinished and quite sharp round the inner edge. This has been replaced be a nicely smoothed front piece. The various connection points, memory card slots and buttons that appear round the edge remain the same as before. There is one addition, the inclusion of a stylus the slides into a small recess in the top right hand corner of the device.

One of the big selling points of the PRS600 is that it has a touch screen interface. You can move through pages on screen by swiping a finger/stylus either left to right (forward) or right to left (back). It is possible to switch this setting and I did so as the default seemed counter intuitive. I admit it takes a little getting used to and may not be as responsive as some would like. Personally I was happy enough once I had spent a few minutes with it. If you are a fan of buttons you don’t need to panic they are still present as well.

The biggest issue I had with the PRS505 was the Sony Library software that was bundled with it. This was supposed to make managing your ebooks easy on either a PC or Mac. In my experience it was utterly inflexible and I found it irritating at best. I regularly use many different software packages in my day job, so I don’t think the issue was between keyboard and chair.

Part of the experience of owning an iPod, for example, is that you are able to manage and catalogue your MP3s effectively in iTunes. I expected the same level of functionality for my ebooks in Sony Library, no such luck.  After some investigation I was found a freeware replacement, called Calibre, that performs far better. Having been burned once before, I decided when I unboxed the PRS600 that I would not bother with the Sony Library management software. I have made the decision to stick with Calibre and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Ironically, the software that runs on the reader itself is actually quite good. It is easy to select the book you wish to read, create bookmarks, listen to audio tracks or even view pictures.

There are a glut of eReaders out on the market now. Amazon have the Kindle, and Apple are getting in on the act with iBooks on the iPad. The differing levels of functionality are quite mind boggling. The Kindle allows direct downloads with its built in wi-fi. On the iPad the app that allows book reading is just one of a hundred thousand others. In my opinion I believe that eReaders should be just that, a reader. I want something that successfully mimics reading a book but allow me the ability to carry multiple books at once. I don’t want fancy bells and whistles. There are even some functions on the PRS600 that I think aren’t really required. For example, when reviewing a book having the option to annotate notes is useful whereas being able to draw a picture seems pointless. You can also view a slide show of images but that again seems unnecessary, especially when you take into account that the images can only be viewed in black and white.

It is not all doom a gloom though. As a reader, the PRS600 does work quite well. There are now five font size settings rather than the previous three and the screen is crystal clear. Glare doesn’t seem to be an issue and it is as easy to read outdoors as it is inside. If you are looking for a basic reader that is quick to master then this could well be the reader for you.

Sony PRS600

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