Technology

Sony Daily Edition Review

Overview 

Although you may not recall this, Sony’s first Reader device became available in 2006, long before eBooks were trendy. The next year, Kindle was first marketed by Amazon. It offered the ability to download wireless media. Since Sony delayed adding this function, it would later be included in the category it helped create.

With the Sony Reader Daily Edition, the company hopes to recapture their market share with a device that has 3G wireless and a larger touch screen display than that of the Barnes & Noble, Nook or the Amazon Kindle 2. Although, it costs $399, this unit is $140 more expensive than its rivals. Is the cost of premium worth it?

Bottom Line 

Sony is betting that its 3G capabilities and larger touch screen will entice consumers to shell out the $399 for the Daily rather than going for the $259 Nook or Kindle 2. If everything else is equal, these features might appeal to some customers. However, the lack of speed of the Sony Daily Edition’s interface lessened our love of the device.

While touch is a more natural method of navigating through eBooks and we appreciate that Sony continues innovating in this area, the execution leaves much to be desired. The Nook is a better choice for consumers who don’t mind having an eInk touch-screen but like the openness and don’t want to be restricted to one eBook store, as with Kindle. However, for just the ergonomic feel, the Kindle 3 provides the best design, and a wide variety of daily content.

Design

Sized 8.1″ x 5″ x 0.6″, the Sony Daily Edition is basically a longer Sony Reader Touch Edition plus 3G. Both readers share the same version of the screen, touch interface, simple design and ports. As the Sony Daily Edition possesses identical width as the 6-inch Touch Edition, it fits snugly in one hand. Although, more lines of text can be read on the longer 7-inch screen with two-column reading under landscape mode.

Five physical buttons are located under the eInk screen: Previous/Next Page, Home, Zoom, and Options. A stylus is hidden in the upper left corner near the power slide. Media slots for SD and Flash Drive Duo Cards can be found under a cover on the right side. Located on the bottom are a wireless on/off switch, a mini-USB, headphone jacks, volume controls and a power port.

User Interface

The menu on the Daily is much like that of the Touch, with large icons that can be pressed with one’s finger or a stylus. On the home page, you can easily get to the book or periodical you last read, a list of books you added most recently, collections, periodicals and notes. At the end of the screen are tabs for going to the Reader Store, other applications (like handwritten notes and an audio player), and Settings.

While the interface is basic, it’s not user friendly. We had no problems moving around and comprehending the use of the Sony Daily Edition upon opening it. Every element was large, appropriate for a touch device; using our fingers to click elements or text was always easy.

Reading Experience

Sony focused on the screen’s extra layer so touch would be enabled, meaning that the eInk display on the Daily Edition is dull compared to eReaders without touch like the Nook and Kindle. Comparing them side by side makes it seem more noticeable than while using the Sony Daily Edition to read. The screen remains crisp either way, but we experienced more eyestrain when reading in medium to low lighting when we utilized the Daily Edition than we did with other eReaders.

People can change the orientation of their screen from portrait to landscape mode, which is the same functionality that is available on the Touch Edition. Among the advantages of landscape mode reading is the fact that text can be divided into two columns. This is a more natural way to read newspapers. A broad array of text sizes are available, ranging from extra small to 2XL.

When reading N. K. Jemisin’s book, “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”, we were amazed at how much more of the book could fit on each page, which enabled us to concentrate on the book instead of constantly turning pages.

Sony Store and Content Selection is similar to that of Kindle. 3G connectivity is included with Sony Daily Edition for access to Sony’s Reader Store. Finding your way around the store is as simple as figuring out how to work the model. It takes longer than other devices for the Daily Edition to turn pages and load titles; we think this may be due to the extra time the device requires to download information over the wireless connection.

Sony’s Reader Store offers over 200,000 eBooks, plus over 1 million free eBooks through Google Books, as well as 15 periodicals. Sony has a larger quantity of books available, compared to the offerings of Barnes & Noble. 1,069,161 eBooks were available for the Nook when this review was written, but you can also find over 1 million on Google Books. Amazon continues to have an edge with over 420,000 eBooks, 20 newspapers, 13 magazines and various blogs.

3G Connectivity and Performance

Several times during our testing, the connection to AT&T’s network dropped in mid-search, even though 3 or 4 bars were showing in the indicator in the bottom left corner. It was so slow that browsing and searching the store was faster on a separate computer, which makes the wireless a bit pointless.

However, a good number of EPUB books in Sony’s store contain small file sizes, thus letting us download them speedily. Catherynne M. Valente’s Palimpsest (599KB) could be downloaded in 45 seconds; Holly Black and D. J. MacHale’s Swashbuckling Fantasy: 10 Thrilling Tales of Magical Adventure (2.2 megabytes) took 51 seconds to download, and an issue of the Columbus Dispatch (835 kilobytes) took 1 minute and 24 seconds to download at an average speed of about 176 kilobytes per second.