Sony has been making eBook readers for over three years now (we first got our hands on one at CES 2007) so it would be a bit embarrassing if it couldn’t do at least a half-decent job of it by now. And indeed the last generation Reader Touch impressed us mightily, which made us all the more keen to get our hands on the new editions after their announcement at IFA this year.
Ostensibly the new PRS-650 Reader Touch isn’t much changed from its predecessor, the PRS-600. The same 6in, 800 x 600 pixel resolution, e-ink display is present, and is still touch-sensitive. Similarly, the physical design isn’t much different, although that’s not a bad thing – the aluminium chassis looks great as well as feeling resilient without being overly heavy. It’s certainly easier to hold than an iPad, or even a real book for that matter.
The software is where the improvements have been made with the interface feeling a little more responsive than the previous Reader Touch. A stylus is provided, but it doesn’t seem to be needed; our finger presses and swipes registered as we intended them to, in our time with the device.
Particularly nifty is the new dictionary function, activated by double tapping on a word. As well as the Oxford definition, you can also get translations into 12 languages, with more expected to be added in the future. The word listing seems pretty comprehensive – we couldn’t find a word that the Reader Touch failed to offer a definition or translation for.
What’s also good is that the PRS-650 edition of the Reader Touch is launching with a lower MSRP than did the PRS-600 - £199 versus £239.99. While that’s still not exactly cheap, we reckon it poses good value for money, although we’ll reserve our full judgement until we get to spend more time with a device.