Sony Readers due in New Zealand in October

It looks like Kiwi Christmas shoppers will be spoilt for choice this year on the ebook reading front. The much-delayed Sony ebook readers will ship sometime in October, according to an NBR report. This follows the arrival of the also-much-delayed Kindle last month.

And unlike the Kindle, which shipped to Australian buyers almost a year before New Zealand customers got it, the Sony range has been absent from both markets until now. It’s a delay that will cost Sony some momentum but it’s certainly good news for the Kobo-powered ebook stores on both sides of the Tasman (Whitcoulls in New Zealand, Borders and Angus & Roberston in Oz).

Sony’s offering provides a premium brand name reader that will be tuned for easy access to these Kobo-powered ebook stores. Sony has been an early champion of the book industry’s open ePub ebook format in contrast to Amazon with its proprietary Kindle format.

Sony will release two of its units, the Sony Reader Touch Edition which sports the same 6-inch diagonal eInk  screen as the Kobo and Kindle, and the smaller Pocket Edition with a 5-inch screen. Both editions have a touch screen which many people prefer for navigation though usually at the slight expense of lower contrast.

Neither Sony model sports wireless, either via WiFi or 3G, so like the Kobo will need to be connected to a PC to load up on ebooks. Sony does have such a model, the Daily Edition, a slightly larger 7-inch model with both WiFi and 3G (cellular) wireless access but there are no plans at this stage for it to come to New Zealand.

The Pocket Edition will be NZ$299 and the Sony Reader Touch Edition will be NZ$399. NBR has a good comparison table showing how Sony’s line-up will compare with the new Kindle and Whitcoulls’ Kobo eReader.

And here’s a video intro from Sony New Zealand.

Comments (3)

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  2. LukeC

    The Sony EBook readers have become available in New Zealand from some time last week (I’m writting this on 23/09/2010). I have purchased the prs-650. It is all that the reviews have indicated. Some comments: 1) The USB chord is propriatory – it is not micro USB. If you lose it, you will need to purchase a specific replacement – no generic USB chords here. 2) The device works as a portable hard drive, by which I mean you can copy and paste files, without the need for specific software as an intermediary process – most welcome news, as far as I’m concerned. 3) It has been stated that there is an issue with files that are ‘larger than 52mb’. However, I’ve not seen this occur with pdf files yet. I’m unclear as to what this refers to (I’ve only tested pdf and epub files so far). 4) This device can struggle with some pdf files that arent OCR. Non OCR pdf can have problems with changing font size and displaying images. I have loaded some of the more testing possibilities – poorly constructed home made scans converted to pdf with images. The Sony reader was able to deal with it, but is sometimes limited (in font size particularly). 5) Eink is significantly different from the likes of LCD screens. People who care about what happens after staring at a screen for hours should pay real attention to this. 6) The Reader comes with a pointer – a pencil like implement that provides an easy way to make use of the touch screen(I don’t believe this is mentioned in the advertising, or the manual). 7) The expandable memory card caters for the latest SDHC card (a fact you can only find by searching deeply within the manual, since most of the references are to ‘SD’ cards). 8) Cases for this device are net yet available in New Zealand. 9) The Devices are only available at Sony Style stores (Akl&ChCh) along with online purchase. 10) Personal opinion: I have waited several years for such a device to appear. The Sony readers include some features that I find significant – open access to file types, decent memory (and expandable), dictionaries, copy&paste of files, Audio(mp3) access, notetaking. 11) In the long run, I can see ebook readers developing and improving in a number of ways, but for now, the Sony readers are worth serious consideration, if you want a dedicated book reader.

  3. Martin Taylor (Post author)

    Hi Luke
    Thanks for these very helpful observations. I’ve had a quick play with one at the local SonyStyle store and was impressed with its usability and construction. Certainly, these eInk devices are making solid improvements with each generation.

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