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Sony PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition review

Niall Magennis

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  • Recommended by TR

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Sony PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition
  • Sony PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition
  • Sony PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition
  • Sony PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition
  • Sony PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition
  • Sony PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition
  • PRS600 Digital Text Reader (ePub, PDF, DOC, TXT, RTF, BBeB - JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP - MP3, AAC - 15.2 cm 6" Display - 512 MB Flash - 1000 Books - Technology: Network Technology)

Summary

Our Score:

8

We were mightily impressed with the Sony PRS-505 eBook reader when we reviewed it back in October last year, and to be honest there hasn't really been anything to outdo it since. Rival devices have been either too expensive or too poorly built to mount a serious challenge. Now Sony is back with a new model and as the name suggests, this one attempts to improve on the PRS-505 by adding touch support to the screen.

The PRS-600 looks quite different to Sony's previous eBook readers. Whereas earlier models had more buttons than a pearly king and queen, this one is a much more Spartan affair with just five long, thin buttons lined up beneath the display. Of course, this has been made possible due to the touch nature of the screen, with the user interface relying largely on touch input for navigation, which is no bad thing in our book (if you'll excuse the pun). The buttons may have largely disappeared, but thankfully the excellent build quality remains.

Like the PRS-505, the PRS-600 is hewn from metal rather than the plastic used by most of its rivals and as such feels much sturdier. The design is also the best so far, as less buttons equals a sleeker and more minimalist look that really shows off the sexy aluminium finish at its best. However, the metal chassis does add weight making it heavier than competing devices like the Bookeen CyBook. Whereas the similarly sized Cybook Gen3 weighs 174g, the Touch Edition is heavier at 286g and certainly feels more weighty when you hold it in your hands.

One of the criticisms of the PRS-505 was Sony's decision to go down the route of creating its own proprietary BBeB format for books bought over the web, but the PRS-600 has much wider format support. Along with BBeB, it also handles EPub and Adobe Digital Editions for eBook purchases, alongside other non-DRM formats like PDF, MS Word, RTF and TXT files.

Getting books and other files on to the reader is pretty straightforward. This is partly because the installation software is stored on the eBook reader, so as soon as you connect it to your PC the installer automatically launches. This loads the eBook Library software which acts as a file manager for the device letting you sync documents, notes and audio files back and forth. The software also acts as a gateway to the online book store where you buy commercial titles. It's all pretty straightforward to use and files are quick to sync via USB. The PRS-600 has 512MB of ROM onboard, and 380MB is left free giving you space to store around 350 books. However, there are also slots for Memory Stick and SD cards, so it's easy to add additional storage if you feel the need.

jake120

October 14, 2009, 7:53 am

Maybe you have not used it long enough but how is it with finger prints on the screen and how easy would it be to clean off?

farki80

October 14, 2009, 12:06 pm

The 505 was a brilliant device. I am tempted by this if sorely because the refresh rate is so much quicker. No need for WiFi though as I do not see the point of having one on a e-book reader.

Gormond

October 14, 2009, 1:06 pm

The main characteristic about an E-Book reader is readability and IMO the PRS-600 fails because of the screen glare, I messed about with it in Waterstone's and the glare was too much for me, I will stick with the PRS-505 for now.

BOFH UK

October 14, 2009, 1:31 pm

I actually looked at one of these about a week ago and was all set to pull the trigger... right up to the point I looked at the cost of new release e-books. They're currently WAY too expensive, often costing more than the paper based version and of course with far less possibility of grabbing a bargain in the sales as there are far fewer retailers. For a digital copy of a book, which many people will only read once, to cost almost a fiver (in this case for Twilight, a book I know is out in paperback) with no resale value to the consumer is simply insane. Why would you spend money on building a collection that way when you can get the paper versions for less and sell them on when you're done.





In principle it's a nice idea, and products like this make it very attractive, but until something's done about the cost of the digital versions (or all libraries have digital services) I just don't see it going anywhere.

Fleabane

October 14, 2009, 1:56 pm

I shouldn't knock the lack of a charger, if everyone standardised on using USB to charge the plethora of devises found in the average jacket pocket, we'd just need the one and that could be a laptop or whatever. I've got a drawer full of the things, all with different connectors, all patiently waiting to go into landfill.

farki80

October 14, 2009, 2:15 pm

BOFH_UK





This is just me. I often read books more than once. If there is a book I would only read once I will get it from the library - not buy them.





And it isn't like real books have much resale value anyway. Combining auction fees, postage and PayPal fees, getting back £1 from a real book isn't something I would personally bother IMO. Additionally I can easily download any of the tens of thousands available copyright-free books from Project Guthenberg and read them on a Sony Reader - where as copyright-free real books will still cost money due to printing costs and retailer's profit margin to take into consideration.





Finally there is the issue of convenience. Having an ebook reader meant I do not have to carry multiple books with me on holidays. I read about 3-4 books a week. Sometimes I overlap, and having access to a collection of hundreds of titles at my fingertips has been great. No more having to worry about finishing a book at lunch and wondering what to read on the way home.

farki80

October 14, 2009, 2:20 pm

Agree with Fleabane. No charger included is great as it is a waste of space and material. I already have a USB AC adapter that I can use to charge my PSP, Nokia, GPS and Walkman.

Retset

October 14, 2009, 3:43 pm

I think they are a brilliant concept and nearly bought the previous one ... until I remembered that I only read most books once and so pick them up for free (sort of, council tax!) in my library. With an e-book reader I would have to come up with £7 a novel which would cost me a small fortune. When we can finally get e-books from the library, as is being trialled in the USA, then I will get one. My fingers are not crossed...

drittenorn

October 14, 2009, 5:00 pm

I think they can be pretty compelling if you have an interest in 19th Century fiction, a lot of which is both freely available and rather cumbersome to read in physical book form (last copy I got of War and Peace weighs in at wrist tiring 2.2Kg). Add this to the pile of hundreds of work related pdfs which I don't want to print or store and I'm almost convinced.





A couple of other minor things. http://www.feedbooks.com/news offers a neat way of generating mobi or custom pdfs from RSS feeds that have full text. This would be a great way of reading the news or some blogs without the distractions of a browser. Each book contains a link that can be followed to regenerate the content.





This link http://www.sony.co.uk/hub/read... documents the current UK and Irish libraries that support eBook borrowing.

Ged

October 14, 2009, 5:20 pm

I have the 505, and assuming that this one is similar, you can charge it using a PSP charger or clone, which is a lot cheaper than buying the official reader charger. The 505 will also only charge off a PC USB port with a sync signal not a mains USB charger.

DrDark

October 14, 2009, 6:07 pm

I agree with BOFH_UK on this: e-books are just ridiculously expensive. I know why (undercutting retailers, same reason PC titles on Steam are expensive), but it's becoming a tired excuse. If a new book is released, the digital copy is often priced exactly the same as the hardback edition (well over £10). Er, hello? You didn't have to kill a tree or manufacture/transport anything. Please f*** off and give me a proper price.





I don't have a solution for what will happen to the high street stores when things DO go digital (my prediction is they'll try to string it out for another 10 to 15 years), but that doesn't make this pricing "fair".





Here's a suggestion: similar to (some) movies, maybe each physical book could now come with a "digital copy" code?

farki80

October 14, 2009, 6:28 pm

"You didn't have to kill a tree or manufacture/transport anything."





While I agree that do cost more than they should, statements like this is misguided. These digital copies are housed in servers which requires money, not only to build and maintain but to power them up, hook them on the internet (not free) and pay the people maintaining them. Servers aren't cheap. Then also consider a cut of profit will go towards the author, publisher and retailers (like Amazon and Waterstone).





In any case, Sony Readers in the US are compatible with digital libraries where people can download and rent books from their online local libraries. UK libraries are years behind the US when it comes to ebook service by libraries, so it is understandable that the service isn't that compelling yet. Pester your councils and maybe something will change.

DrDark

October 14, 2009, 6:58 pm

Okay okay, I didn't elaborate properly for both methods, but it still cost them less.


In other threads I've pointed out that I think the price of digital games for the PSPGo and 360 are quite fair.


But e-books shouldn't be hardback price. If anything, they should be slightly under paperback price, £5-8 maybe. Publishers are charging double for "convenience".

BOFH UK

October 14, 2009, 6:58 pm

Umm, actually servers are very cheap when you're running bulk services. Computer hardware is ridiculously cheap these days, storage space is almost trivial compared to what it used to be. Bandwidth isn't quite at the same level but there's been huge advances there as well. Certainly I don't see any way that the cost of providing a digital book directly to the consumer should be anywhere even close to providing a printed version. Yes, retailer, publisher and author must all get paid but that's the same with both sales models. And the customer IS getting less for their money. Resale value I touched on earlier but there's also the fact that you're far more limited about what you can do with a digital copy and that you run the risk of not being able to access your books if something goes wrong with your account (or the publisher / retailer pulls the book as Amazon did earlier this year).





Don't get me wrong here, I WANT e-books to work. I'd love the convenience of a single unit carrying multiple books. I re-read paperbacks until they're dog-eared and falling to bits and I have dreams of authorship one day. But right now it just seems like digital books are too expensive to work with the mass market and that's a real shame.

Twilight Magician

October 14, 2009, 7:33 pm

I think you'll all find that one of the reasons why ebooks are a tad expensive is because of VAT. Regular paper books don't have any VAT, but ebooks, for reasons known only to the Byzantine world of tax officials, aren't treated as book and have the full rate of VAT added to them.

DrDark

October 14, 2009, 7:56 pm

A)Yes, the VAT does seem a bit silly.


B)It still wouldn't account for the prices.





Example: http://www.amazon.com/Culture-...


There's a random book on the US Amazon site. I only picked it since it stood out. Probably written by an idiot, but let's not get into politics.


You can clearly see the "digital list price" is set at the same price as the hardcover copy. Amazon have kindly chopped just over $2.50 off which is probably less than their shipping costs. It SHOULD be 50% less. /Should/ being an imaginary point in time about 10 years into the future.

farki80

October 14, 2009, 8:25 pm

Well I sometimes see CDs costing less than 256kbps digital copies and vise versa...

Jonathan Williamson

October 14, 2009, 8:59 pm

I apologise if this has been covered already, but can these machines be used to read Word documents?

glynbo

October 14, 2009, 11:16 pm

A Reader supports a variety of eBook types including the EPUB format. This is an open, non-proprietary file format and is the most versatile eBook format for mobile reading. EPUB is a “re-flowable” format which means the content of a page can be resized to fit any screen. This means you can use your Reader to alter the size of the text on screen, rather than merely “zooming” in or out. EPUB also enables better presentation of book content such as chapters, graphics, tables of contents and footnotes.


@Jonathan Willamson





From sony.co.uk:-





As a Reader supports EPUB and multiple eBook file types it means you have a huge choice of places to get eBooks. You can also read and listen to the following file types on your Reader: BBeB, Adobe® PDF, Text, RTF, Microsoft® Word, MP3 (non encrypted), AAC (non encrypted), JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP.





Regards

DrDark

October 15, 2009, 1:50 am

@Jonathan: Hmmm. Well, the article does list "MS Word" as one of the supported formats, but doesn't mention compatibility year (2003/2007). I'd assume '07, but you never know.

OldTimer

October 18, 2009, 11:42 pm

One of the problems on pricing is that VAT @ 15% (currently, 17.5% in January) does not apply to printed books but it does to electronic ones. That'll be our green government...

imagegrill

October 20, 2009, 9:15 pm

Well, I managed to break my PRS 505 (rucksack and camera lens accident follwed by drop from gym locker), which was a good excuse to use on the wife to justify the upgrade to the PRS 600 ;-)


The 600 does not come with a cover (just a soft pouch). I would recommend buying the additional cover as it is much stiffer than the one that came with the 505.


The glare on the 600 is more than on the 505, but it does not affect my reading so I am not fussed by it, however your mileage may vary!


The cheapest prices I have found so far (and used) is WHSMITH online for £219 inc delivery.


http://www.whsmith.co.uk/Catal...





Enjoy

Coolcheapest

October 27, 2009, 2:34 pm

You can compare PRS-600 with other e-bookreader at <a href="http://www.coolcheapest.com/EB... . You can also buy other models and e-bookreader accessories at <a href="http://www.coolcheapest.com/EB... .

MarkOfGlasgow

January 19, 2010, 7:30 pm

Had one for month and read several PDF papers and two theses on it.





On the positive side: (1) It is smaller than many paperbacks but with a large screen and with SD card tons of memory - so perfect form factor for reading on. (2) It does a fairly good job with PDF and usually reflows quite well (though not perfectly). (3) Easy to put comments into PDFs and bookmark pages of interest. (4) Battery lasts well and it's handy not to have to worry about another charger but just plug the USB in.





On the negative side: (1) I read a lot of reviews and got the impression this was as good as any other e-reader as far as screen goes (or maybe just a tiny bit worse with the touch-screen but not much). As such the screen is a big disappointment - I am constantly struggling with getting the right lighting conditions, too dark and you have to really boost the zoom to read anything on the low contrast screen (why is the background so grey?) and too bright you fight with glare from the screen. This is NOT a paper-like display and in all bar sunlight it is much worse than my phone's screen. (2) Novels are about double the price in electronic format and you can't pass them on to a charity shop when done but I mostly bought for work. (3) You cannot get comments on PDF files back into the PDF so you cannot comment on someone else's work and mail them it back.





Overall, lovely form factor but the e-ink has been seriously hyped - unless the long battery life or reading in sunlight is a big thing for you, it just isn't worth it over modern LCD screens.

Big John

January 22, 2010, 5:07 am

Guys, I'm not sure if this has come up before, but can You take notes while reading a .pdf or .doc or .txt? Or is this function only available for purchased eBooks?

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