That new Sony e-reader (the PRS-T1) I wrote about a few weeks ago after it was spotted undergoing FCC certification has just been officially announced. Sony put out a press release and photos with a few details are up on their web site. From the press release:
"Treat yourself to the most natural and immersive reading experience with the new Reader™ Wi-Fi® (model PRS-T1) from Sony – the world's lightest1 15.2cm (6") eReader that also features an enhanced touchscreen. Now with Wi-Fi, Reader gives you the additional freedom to buy, borrow or get eBooks for free wherever there's a wireless connection available.
- Hold effortlessly in one hand: just 168 grams and 8.9mm thin
- Browse and download a huge range of eBooks via Wi-Fi
- Turn pages smoothly, zoom in and out, look up in dictionary or make notes, all on advanced, high-contrast touchscreen
- Borrow eBooks directly and wirelessly from your public library
- Over one month of battery life* lets you read without recharging on holidays or trips away
- Available in three fashionable colours: red, white and black"
Remember the fuss over Pottermore.com — J.K. Rowling's mystery Harry Potter website that turned out to be (among other things) the announcement of pending Harry Potter e-book versions? Well, Sony was featured prominently on Pottermore and the new e-reader press release also includes a snippet of interest to of Harry Potter Fans:
"Sony's first offer in its collaboration with J.K. Rowling's eagerly anticipated Pottermore website (www.pottermore.com) is a specially-created limited edition of Reader Wi-Fi (PRS-T1) which includes a voucher that enables Harry Potter fans to download the first Harry Potter eBook title, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, from Pottermore. Pottermore, a unique website which builds an exciting and immersive online experience around the Harry Potter books and is the exclusive retailer of the Harry Potter digital eBooks, is partnered by Sony."
We don't have official pricing at this point. Although a Dutch web site posted the e-reader a few days ago at the equivalent of $199, that was probably a guess and I can't imagine that after the drubbing Sony took over the premium pricing of its last round of e-readers, the company would come back to the table at a price point that's significantly higher than the Kindle, NOOK Simple Touch and other 6-inch E Ink e-readers. Speculation online has the price pegged at $149 and that seems more realistic to me — a slight premium to reflect the styling, music capability and multi-touch display, but not by enough to have potential buyers ignore it altogether.
To round up, here are key points that we know about the PRS-T1:
- Weighs in at svelte 5.92 ounces and only 0.35 inches thick.
- Includes Wi-Fi (finally).
- Battery is rated for over one month (3 weeks with wireless on).
- Includes a new feature among e-readers- ability to borrow library books wirelessly (previously required computer tethering).
- Display is 6-inch E Ink Pearl with 16-level gray scale at 600 x 800 resolution.
- Enhanced touchscreen allows advanced gestures such as pinch and zoom.
- Case has switched to plastic from aluminum, cutting weight to class leading 5.9 ounces.
- Available in red, black and white.
- Onboard storage of 2 GB, with micros SD card expandability.
- Supports EPUB, PDF, TXT, with graphic and music compatibility.
- Includes a stylus for finer control of notes.
- US release date is "mid-September."
- Limited edition version (in black) will be available that includes a download of e-book version of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."
In other words, Sony is keeping style as a key differentiator compared to other e-readers, they've eliminated lack of Wi-Fi as a feature gap and have sought to move ahead of the competition with new functionality such as multi-touch and wireless library borrowing. Stay tuned for final pricing and a hands on review.