After six years in other markets with e-reader devices, Sony is making its 5 inch Reader Pocket Edition ($229) and 6 inch Reader Touch ($299) available to Australian digital book lovers. Both are new-generation models employing the latest ‘Pearl’ version of E-Ink screen technology, 2GB of inbuilt memory (for storing 1200 ebooks) and a claimed two weeks battery life. The larger Reader Touch supports Memory Stick and SD cards up to 32GB, and will play back music and photos. Both models go onsale in “early September”, according to Sony.
Unique among E-Ink models – and an advance on the market dominant Kindle – these Sonys provide a touchscreen for flicking through pages and highlighting words you want definitions for (or want translated into another language) from ten built-in dictionaries. Unlike the Kindle, Sony’s Readers do not integrate WiFi so you must be connected to a computer to download your digital books.
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On this count, the models support the most important ebook formats, including ePub, pdf, txt, doc and jpeg files and, once setup, will have direct access to ebooks from Borders and Angus and Robertson. For New Zealand buyers, there will also be Whitcoulls.
The Sony readers will not have access to the Amazon catalogue of ebooks, or the Apple iBookstore.
According to Sony’s product manager for portable entertainment, Brenden Woolley, five millions e-reader devices were sold globally in 2009, with more than 12 million sales expected in 2010.