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Customer Review

123 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant ereader, more than a match for the new Kindle, 19 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Sony PRS-T1 BLACK - Ultra slim and lightweight reader with superior paper-like touch screen and Wi-Fi (Electronics)
I have been using my new Sony reader for 2 weeks now and now that I am used to the quirks of its interface feel very pleased with it. It is less straightforward to set up than the Kindle, but the ease of that is bought at the cost of being completely dependent on Amazon for sourcing books, something which I object to in principle, much as I recognise the quality of the Kindle and the cheapness of many books.

Since using the Sony I have bought from Waterstones, Google Books and WH Smith at the same price as on Amazon (though many books ARE more expensive on these other sites) and borrowed library books from my local library, all via the wi-fi connection. This latter source is particularly appealing to me as there are many books I want to read but would not dream of spending £5 on, even on the Kindle. As yet the Sony Reader Store is not online (due 1st December) so I will need to amend this review once I have tried that out. (A free programme, 'Calibre' has a function enabling sourcing the cheapest outlet for any book you wish to buy: it searches, displays and then you go to the site of choice.)

This Sony has wi-fi; a touch screen and stylus; built in bilingual dictionaries for 5 languages plus 2 English dictionaries (and no scrolling through using a rocker switch to highlight a word - simply touch and the definition appears from within the chosen main dictionary); touch screen keyboard, far superior to the KKs and even more so to the K4. There are 8 font size options, 6 plus the book's original font style options - serif and non-serif -, on screen real page numbering for all books, landscape/ portrait options and a really useful crop tool which removes the excessive margins on some pages: I find that I often set this for a book when the font size I really want lies between two of the options: the slightly enlarged cropped page often enlarges text just enough to make it perfect. (It DOESN'T have changeable line-spacing, which I have found useful on the Kindle to maximise legibility.) Many free books which were so cumbersome to navigate on the Kindle, are much better formatted for ebook, with contents pages often appearing where they were absent on Kindle formats. Calibre will convert non DRM books easily to the ebook format and contents lists miraculously appear in the new format even though hidden on the Kindle! Storage is about 1.4gb, pretty much the same as the Kindle 4 has available for book storage. Whereas the K has Cloud storage, with the Sony the device has an expansion slot which can take a card up to 32gb! There are options to control contrast and brightness, but I have found it hard to see what these actually do without pushing the selections to extremes and hence unreadability.

Note making and highlighting, features I thought of little interest on the Kindle where actually using them is a bit clunky and too awkward for me, is here a doddle: highlight, opt to type a note and the onscreen keyboard is immediately responsive. The 'page' can also be used to handwrite or sketch using the stylus: I've not used these much yet, but can conceive of them as useful, if minor bonuses. The 'pinch zoom' feature, which works well and flexibly, is very useful for charts, maps, diagrams etc, where the Kindle's crude zoom is not generally helpful. I am learning Italian, and verb tables on Kindle were illegible even with the zoom: on the PRS T1, the zoom is variable and one can move around in the zoomed page! Another feature which is useful is tapping on a word produces a dictionary definition, but also an on screen option to search using that word in Google or Wikipedia, the option of making a note, highlighting and so on. It really is incredibly quick and flexible. Obviously Google/Wiki access is dependent on being in a 'friendly' wi-fi zone. Browser use is a bit flickery at times, but I think it is 100% better than the Amazon 'trial' version.

There have been some comments about freezing of the Sony. This has happened to me once, but a partial refresh put that right in 2 minutes: I had to reset my K3 at least 3 times and k4 twice, so that's just a reminder that nothing is perfect.

The Kindle scores on ease of set up, though the Sony really isn't too problematic with care and a bit of common sense (beware some 1* Kindle complainers), and I write as someone not especially skilled in technical terms. Though I preferred the Sony Touch appearance to the Kindle's, the K4 looks rather better to me than the new Sony, with less intrusive bezel etc. I'm not mad about the super shiny, reflective and finger-print attracting bezel on the Sony, but when reading, the frame pretty much disappears, though a reading light needs more careful positioning. (My much loved OctovoOCTOVO Solis e-reader Led Light for Kindle (Fits the New Kindle & Kindle Keyboard) still fits pretty snuggly, but reflections from the bezel make more careful positioning of reader AND light pretty essential.) Cases are not so easy to buy either as there is very limited choice: the 'official' Sony cases are horrible, expensive plasticky tat which I would not buy at £5 let alone the £30 or £40 for case with light - but that's a matter of taste, though I have seen that a number of sites list options as imminent.

So, having used and really loved my Kindle 3, the new K4 (for me a great advance on 3) and now the Sony PRS t1, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the Sony above the others: 5 stars, not because it's perfect, but because I think it is very, very good, more flexible than any Kindle and suits me perfectly in not being tied to a single powerful retailer AND able to access library catalogues! (And 0nly £130 from Sony Centres, currently!

PS March 2012.
Re Pdfs. I have used the Sony with journals which I have received in pdf format on both K4 and the Prs t1. On the Kindle, the texts were illegible. The device cannot re-arrange text and the zoom still leaves the docs I have tried completely illegible. On the PRS t1, the pdf text is flow enabled and though the result is a bit slow in loading and changing pages, it is acceptable and usable. Diagrams for manuals would probably still not be practicable, but text based pdfs with some photographic content work well. I've been able to put academic material I've produced in pdf format onto the device and OU study materials.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Dec 2011 00:55:45 GMT
Ian says:
Anyone who had trouble with freezing can download the firmware update 1.0.03.11140 from Sony's website, this fixes everything.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2012 21:50:33 GMT
anne says:
Hi Ian, by freezing, do you mean an error message saying Protected by digital rights management? I can't get past that, when trying to continue reading the only book I've bought yet! Anne

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2012 22:47:04 GMT
Freezing is when the device locks so you cannot move from the page you are on.

Your problem sounds odd! Where did you download your book from? DRM prevents a version of an ereader book being used on devices for which it was not purchased and/or for which it was not formatted. So, for example, books you download from Waterstones are DRM protected and available only to the purchasers device AND cannot be used on Kindles. Virtually all Kindle books (esp. ones you pay for) are in a format only accessible by the Kindle device and can only be used on devices registered to the purchasers account. If you bought from a store which sells ebooks for the Sony format then something has gone wrong somewhere. Try re-downloading. Failing that, contact customer services. Try searching the internet for Ebook digital rights management. There might be useful info there.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jan 2012 16:38:13 GMT
anne says:
Thanks, will do! Frustrating especially when technology tends to frighten me!

Posted on 17 Mar 2012 16:52:03 GMT
Viper says:
A very informative and balanced review. Many thanks.

Posted on 19 Apr 2012 14:12:18 BDT
thanks for this very helpful review and comments. any thoughts on using audio books on the sony? are there any problems with formats, for instance i have a number of audio books on cd and would want to put them onto the sony if possible. or to download them from a company such as audible? anyone got any experience of this?

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2012 15:49:09 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Apr 2012 17:21:59 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2012 16:45:31 BDT
thanks for replying so quickly. so, when it says in the sony spec that there is audio, what does this refer to? from your comment, does that mean the kindle can take audio books 'cos i thought it didnt have audio output? appreciate your help as looking to get an e-reader but share others reluctance to be tied into amazon only, however good they are at what they do

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2012 17:21:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Apr 2012 08:00:28 BDT
Sorry, Frances, I apologise: I responded TOO quickly. I assumed you meant the text to speech facility which some Kindles have but which the Sony doesn't. Yes, there is an audio feature, which I have never used. My only knowledge of it is via technical reviews which say that the sound quality is not that good.
There's a long video review here http://www.mobiletechreview.com/ereaders/Sony-Reader-PRS-T1.htm which you might find helpful. The reader plays unprotected mp3 files, if that means anything to you.
It's worth mentioning that via Calibre I have been able to read the Guardian in ereader format for free. Ditto a version of the London Review of Books! This may be possible with the Kindle too!
It really is a great device

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2012 18:06:32 BDT
thanks again for your response. yes, i looked more carefully at the kindle after your comment and realised they did the text to speech thing which i definitely am not interested in! looks as if the touch does do audio files but i would have to buy them all from amazon, rather than put my own cd's on. but i think you are right about sony that it is only certain mp3 files so i cant rely on it to play audio books. like you, i am keen to stay unlimited by what amazon want to provide so may look at getting an mp3 player for the audio rather than limiting my choice of e-reader. will look at the review you mention. good to hear you are continuing to enjoy the sony. i assume calibre is something i can just download onto the pc and thence onto the sony? i am not very tech savvie but it is only laziness and i can see that, if i do buy the sony, i will have to spend some time teaching myself about all these devices and their inner workings so if you have any suggestions of good places to look for info, i would be very grateful.
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