Review: Sony Reader PRS-T1

Sony Reader PRS-T1

Our score: 3/5
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December 8, 2011 10:44 AM
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Published: December 8, 2011 10:36 AM
By Florence Legrand

With a six-inch touchscreen display, 2 GB of memory with room for 1200 books and a microSD slot with space for an extra 32 GB of content you can download over the built-in WiFi connection, Sony's latest e-book reader is super slim, lightweight and very affordable.

Design and Build Quality

We were such big fans of the brushed aluminium Sony used to use for its e-book readers—but for this new, thinner 8.9 mm device, the exterior is in plastic.  The price has dropped as a result, of course, and the results aren't too shoddy.  Another advantage is the lighter frame, weighing just 170 g, which is a welcome change for a mobile device.  The downside is that it's easy to leave greasy fingerprints on the case, although they're less visible on the coloured versions.  The build quality is perfectly acceptable.
 

Sony Reader PRS-T1 review
The old-school paper cover available as an accessory


Using the Sony Reader PRS-T1 is an enjoyable experience, so it's just as well that it's easy to hold for hours on end.
 

Sony Reader PRS-T1 review - nice cover


The six-inch touchscreen display uses the E-Ink Pearl technology which offers great contrast ratios.  The white background is much whiter than on competing e-books.  Better still, you can turn the contrast up even further if you're fighting against bright sunlight.

We were impressed by the touchscreen interface, which also offers multitouch, meaning you can zoom 'like on a smartphone', by spreading your thumb and index finger.  But when the screen refreshes, the zoom itself is rather jerky.  But do you really need a touchscreen interface for an e-book reader?  We'd have to say that this sort of interface—which is nothing like what you'd find on a smartphone or a tablet—isn't totally necessary.  If, however, you take a lot of notes, then having an onscreen keyboard will be easier than using arrow keys to navigate to the letter you need like you have to on the Amazon Kindle 4.
 

Sony Reader PRS-T1 review - keyboard
Sony Reader PRS-T1 review - web browser

The web browser will do the job if you have nothing else


There's plenty of detail on the screen, so you can type away on it and then send your notes back to your computer.   You can also write using the stylus, which, disappointingly, doesn't slide into the frame anywhere, so you can pretty sure you'll lose it after a while.

Interface

It's fair to say that the Reader is a rapid responder, whether that's by switching on almost instantaneously or when flipping from one page to the next.  Downloading a book over WiFi could be quicker, but it's still a lot handier than getting it on your computer and then copying it across.

Sony Reader PRS-T1 review - simle interface
Simple interface


The entirely reworked interface is much clearer.  As soon as you switch the PRS-T1 on, you can pick up your reading exactly where you left off.  A homescreen brings together settings, free content from Google Books and the browser which will do if you have no other way of getting online.  Our favourite tweak was just being able to chose between seven different fonts.

Unlike on the Amazon Kindle 4, PRS-T1 owners can listen to music with headphones while reading.  We're just not sure anybody will bother given how ropey it sounds.

Sony claims that the battery in the new Reader will last a month if you read for half an hour a day without turning the WiFi on.  After that you'll have to charge it either via a USB cable or a stand-alone charger, which you'll need to buy as an extra.  Any chance we could actually get a charger with our devices Sony?

3/5 Sony Reader PRS-T1 DigitalVersus 2011-12-08 11:36:00

Pros

  • Great size-weight ratio
  • Good contrast on the touchscreen display
  • Responsiveness
  • Attractive, intuitive interface
  • Room to extend the memory
  • Support for ePub with and without DRM

Cons

  • No wall charger included
  • Sony Store not available in the UK

Conclusion

The Sony Reader PRS-T1 is a great e-book reader whose touchscreen display boasts great contrast ratios. It's hardly a revolution for the Reader range, but it does finally add WiFi, and support for the ePub format is a definite bonus. It will be even better when the Sony Store is available outside the USA and Canada!

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