Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sony PRS-350 Impressions

Back to the beginning of 2010, Kindle was the only affordable e-reader of acceptable quality; other offering were either cheap n'nasty or horrendously expensive. Sony's line of e-readers had a mixed reception: the build and system are both excellent, however their screens had a really bad glare issue due to the extra layer of glass where the digitiser is.

A recent trip to SonyStyle cleared up much of my prejudice against Sony e-readers. The latest PRS-350 is especially lovely, with a streamlined aluminium body, beautiful screen and a much improved touch panel that does not glare much if at all.

I tend to speak very positively of Amazon, nonetheless I do feel that they were cutting corners with the Kindle 3 to keep their margins. Omitting a few vestigial bits like accelerometer and GPS can be forgiven, however the plastic chassis had been causing many issues including warped units and broken screens. PRS-350, however, is mainly slimmed down in functionality with no wireless connection and very limited choice of font sizes and no memory card slots.

The relative success of the Kindle is based on Amazon's present customer base, as well as the device's ability to please both ends of the user spectrum, namely from computer illiterate soccer-moms (over the air purchase, delivery and file conversion) to geek major (drag and drop file management, crude system with many possible hacks), while on the usability front it is actually falling behind other companies who are catching up very rapidly. With the glare issue fixed, Sony is in a good position to capture the more mainstream users who is looking for a balanced option.


  • Excellent construction, better than the Kindle 3
  • Small size, light weight
  • Decent touchscreen operation
  • Easy to use, responsive system
  • ePub Support
  • PDF reflow

  • Lack of wireless connectivity
  • Limited customisations and community support
  • Need a computer to manage books
P.S. Over the weekend, B&H had a deal on Sony e-readers, with PRS-350 priced at US$119.99(approx. NZ$156, around NZ$200 with international shipping). Having just spent some money on booze and canned pineapples, I hesitated on placing an order. However I soon regretted as the price went up to $149.99, much less attractive.

It is available from official channels for $299.95 including GST. You can check it out hands-on at your local Sony outlets. To compare the size of popular e-readers, click here.