November 14, 2008

Sony PRS-700 eBook reader reviewed by MobileTechReview

MobileTechReview have posted a very good review and discussion of the pros and cons on Sony's new eReader the PRS-700 here.

Echoing my own sentiments they consider the improvements in interaction from Sony significant. The combination of continued small improvements in button layout and use, this time supercharged also by the addition of the touchscreen, and the new interaction from the touchscreen itself make this a very nice device to use now.

But the additional touchscreen layers and their coatings in front of the display have reduced the already marginal (for all E-Ink displays) contrast of the display. That must have been a tough call for Sony to take, but they have made a statement with it: improve the interaction, despite the hit on display readability. No doubt they are now busy figuring out how to reduce the negative impact as much as possible.

MobileTechReview say "The main menu is the poster child for simple and easy user interfaces". Indeed, I was struck by the elegant simplicity of that simple screen with the big, high-contrast, simple and easy to understand (and hit with a wobbly finger!) icons. Well done Sony.

Something I didn't catch when I covered the PRS-700 previously is the landscape viewing mode is something that will come in handy for certain documents types, although with more panning or scrolling to see a whole portrait page in that larger magnification.

I notice that Sony finally got their branding head straight, and put a simple embossed Sony logo on the FRONT of the device! Duh... See me covering they're previous failures in my PRS-500 reviews: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

So, with all these improvements in interaction, while doing a great job at maintaining the style (or improving due to less buttons) and the great battery life, what's left for Sony to fix in future revisions? I'd say:-
  • that contrast! Keep pushing it up (E-Ink's job mostly)
  • wireless content: discovery, access and delivery. This is where the Kindle (ugly as it may be) still beats it.
  • refresh speed: again, mostly an E-Ink task and they are definately working on this and making visible improvements, see my post here on E-Ink work on new controller chips.
  • then longer term we've got color etc
By-The-Way, Sony have today (Friday) turned on their new (improved?) eBook store over here: if you are interested in checking it out. I'm not sure I can identify any newsworthy changes.....let me know if you can.

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