Of course, the most interesting aspect of this eBook is its 6in touchscreen. The display is very different from traditional LCD touchscreens. Like most eBook readers it uses a technology called eInk. This produces a very high contrast, monochrome image with a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels that looks absolutely rock solid and doesn’t strain your eyes even after long periods of constant reading. It really is incredibly close to the printed page in terms of readability. That said, the one used here is more reflective than the one used on the PRS-505 with the result that it’s a fair bit harder to read in bright light or direct sunlight. We guess this extra coating had to be added because of the touch layer underneath, but it’s still a tad annoying.
Nevertheless, the touch layer means that you can now press directly on the screen with your finger to select the titles you want to read or move through the various menus. This makes the device much faster and easier to use than most other eBook readers. The touchscreen also lets you enter text via an onscreen keyboard or use the stylus to make handwritten notes and annotations in the books and articles that you read. Once you add a note to a page a dog ear graphic appears in the top corner to show that the page has been annotated. These notes are also transferred to your computer when you sync the device with your PC using the eBook Library software.
Although the touchscreen generally works pretty well, it’s certainly not perfect. For starters you have to press harder on this display than you would on a normal LCD screen to make sure your input is registered. Secondly, as the eInk display is very slow to update, you’ll often find yourself waiting for it to catch up with you when you’re typing on the onscreen keyboard or drawing freehand, which is quite disconcerting and takes a while to get used to.
That said, when it comes to page turns (which are activated either by making a swipe gesture across the screen or using the two buttons at the bottom of the display) the PRS-600 is up there with the fastest eBook readers. Moving between the five font sizes is also relatively quick, but there is an annoyingly long pause when you first load a plain text file as the PRS-600 works out how to flow the text.