Sony, an e-reader innovator that has been left behind by new generations of cheaper, touch capable hardware from competing manufacturers, has been strangely silent about plans to re-invigorate its hardware offering. While the current generation Reader Pocket and Reader Touch remain attractive and highly sought after devices (the Reader Touch in particular has frequently experienced supply shortages), the reality is that Kindle, NOOK and Kobo e-readers have been pummelling Sony on price. Then there's the issue where the Sony consumer models lack even the option of Wi-Fi (its big-screen Kindle DX competitor the Daily Edition has Wi-Fi, but that's not exactly a pocketable device and takes the price issue to new extremes).
The aluminum clad, touchscreen Sony Reader models probably lead the field when it comes to looks, but how to justify a $90 price premium for a Sony Reader Touch over a Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with the same display size, similar touchscreen capability and included Wi-Fi?
Sony has been mum on the subject, with hints about possible software upgrades in the Fall, but denying rumors about a new generation of e-readers.
You can't keep anything secret on the Internet and a July 28 filing with the FCC just outed a new e-reader from Sony. Still no official confirmation from the company, but you can see from the label included as part of the FCC filing that it is clearly labeled as an e-reader, and not a tablet. Skimming through the publicly accessible information (link here), here's what we can currently confirm about Sony's new e-reader:
- It is an e-reader and not a tablet or other multipurpose device
- Includes Wi-Fi
- Battery is rechargeable, 3.6Wh Li-ion
- Made in China
- Based on user hearing warning, can assume it still includes MP3 capability
Not a whole lot to go on, but it clearly shows that Sony is responding to the criticisms about lack of Wi-Fi and unlike the Kobo eReader Touch and Barnes & Noble Simple Touch, it would appear that Sony isn't stripping out non e-book related functionality (such as music playing capability) to keep costs down. Even if the new e-reader remains a premium offering, let's just hope that Sony did find a way to bring the cost down a bit to bring it more in line with the current marketplace.
Expect an announcement from Sony sometime in August or September.