Sony's Newly Improved Readers

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When is less more? When you remove an overlay that's causing excessive glare and diminished touch-screen responsiveness. Not only has Sony made its e-readers better by stripping away a millimeter of screen depth, it's now incorporating infrared sensors to detect finger position and execute commands.

The Sony Reader Pocket Edition, Touch Edition and Daily Edition have all been made over, the former the most radically since it, too, is now a touch screen.

All three models use the latest in E-Ink technology, the E-Ink Pearl display, which offers strikingly crisper image quality. Fuzziness occasionally seen on earlier models is gone. All are equipped with a stylus. Sony has switched from mini-USB to micro-USB ports for charging and connecting to a computer. All the models accept both Memory Stick and SD cards and contain at least 2 Gigabytes of internal storage All are still encased in aluminum, but the Readers now are easier to grip thanks to a rubberized back. The new models embed two English language dictionaries (one pops up when you touch a word), and there are 10 conversion dictionaries including English to Dutch, Italian, French, German and Spanish.

The new Sony Pocket Edition is the most dramatically redesigned of the Sony Readers. The Pocket Edition PRS-350 comes in mauve pink (above) or silver (right). Though the screen is still 5 inches, the bezel has been reduced so that the display stands out. Buttons on the right of the screen have been eliminated and concentrated along the bottom as seen on the Touch Edition. It weighs 5.6 ounces and offers six typeface sizes.

The least altered of the trio is the Sony Touch Edition PRS-650. It no longer has a hand-strap slot and dedicated power jack on the bottom. (Recharging is accomplished through the micro USB port.) According to Sony, the new version can last up to two weeks on a single charge. The Readers are available in red (left) or black (right). The 6-inch screen with a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels is the middle size of the three Sony Readers. The PRS-650 is 0.38-inches thick and weighs 7.93 ounces.

The PRS-950 (coming soon) is the upgraded Daily Edition. It features a 7-inch screen with a resolution of 600 x 1024 pixels. The largest of the three models, the Daily Edition weighs 1/4 pound and measures 6.38 x 2.28 x 9.84 inches (WxDxH). The Daily Edition continues to be the only model that can connect via 3G wireless to Sony's Reader Store without a computer.

The Sony Readers may be compatible with more formats than any other brand of eBook. They support Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word, BBeB Book and other text formats, as well as EPUB/ACS4 and connection with Adobe Digital Editions. You may be able to borrow eBooks from your local public library. A finder (right) is available at the Reader Store, where you can also purchase and download new releases like Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (left). With 16 levels of gray, they each display JPEG, PNG, GIF and BMP files. And audio-capable models can play MP3 and unprotected AAC files.

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