Getting the books onto the Reader isn’t quite as simple as it could be. Despite the instructions on the supplied CD stating that books can simply be dragged and dropped onto the eBook Library application, it’s not quite as easy as that. Strangely, you can’t drag and drop files directly to the library window, instead you have to drag them to the Library tab in the left column, or directly to the Reader tab. This isn’t too much of a hassle once you’re aware of it, but I fail to see why items couldn’t be dragged to the main window. The Sony Reader can also display PDF files, which is pretty useful in my line of work, and no doubt many others.
The Sony Reader is launching with a price of £199, which is pretty reasonable when you consider that the last really good eBook reader we reviewed - the Bookeen Cybook - cost over £100 more. Sony has a more complete package too - whereas the wallet spoiled the aesthetic appeal of the Cybook, it enhances the Sony device. that said, it’s still a shame that there’s no mains adapter in the box, while the docking cradle connector that was seen on the original Sony Reader PRS-500 is also conspicuous by its absence.
The appeal of an eBook reader is very personal though, and at no point would I suggest that devices like this will make printed books obsolete. What it does do though, is give you the ability to carry a library of books around with you, allowing you unprecedented choice at all times. The last time I went backpacking for over a year I spent a lot of money on books and ended up just dumping them in hostels when I’d finished them, since I had no desire to carry heavy books around on my back all day. If I’d had a device like this back then, I could have taken a whole raft of books away with me and read them at my leisure, without any worry of the amount of space they’d take up, or how heavy they were. And that, as they say in the technology world, is progress.
The eBook revolution won’t be for everyone, but if you’re willing to give digital books a try, the Sony Reader is well worth investing in. The screen on this device is nothing short of staggering, and with 6,800 page turns between battery charges, you won’t have to worry about running out of juice halfway through War and Peace. The Sony Reader is beautiful to look at, a joy to handle and incredibly easy to use. If anything can usher in the digital age of literature, this can.