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The PRS-600 also plays audio and music files, but only in MP3 and AAC format. The audio player is extremely basic, but you can play music in the background as you read and although no headphones are supplied with the device, the audio output quality is a lot less hissy than other eBook readers we've used.
Because of the nature of the eInk display where power is only used to draw the initially image, not to keep it displayed on the screen, battery life is measured in page turns. Most eBook readers manage a huge number of page turns from a single charge and the PRS-600 is no different in this respect. Sony rates its battery as being good for 7,500 page turns. Obviously if you use it to play music as you read this will be reduced somewhat, but even so we found that the PRS-600 managed to last the equivalent of a week without needing a recharge.
Unfortunately, there's no charger supplied in the box so instead you have to charge it via a USB lead from a PC or laptop with a full charge taking four hours. However, there is also an optional charger available that connects to a dedicated charging socket on the Reader and reduces the charge time to just two hours. We do think it's a bit cheeky that this isn't supplied as a standard accessory.
Another slight downer is the fact that the device still doesn't include any wireless functionality. It lacks the Wi-Fi support found in the iRex ILiad and is also missing the mobile data support offered by Amazon's Kindle. Sony will address this with the forthcoming Daily Edition, which along with the touchscreen will feature built-in 3G. However, you are likely to have to pay considerably more or this luxury.
The PRS-600 doesn't quite reach eBook reader perfection, mainly because the screen is more reflective than we would have liked, but we do think it comes awfully close. The touchscreen control and better laid out menus make it much easier and faster to use, while the build quality and battery life remain as good as ever. As a result we think it's the best eBook reader on the market right now and thoroughly deserving of our Recommended award.
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