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Sony e-book Reader turns over new leaf

Bookmark sales slide

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In literary circles, first editions are often highly prised. However, Sony hopes the second edition of its Reader digital book, the PRS-505, will prove more popular than its predecessor, thanks to what it claimed was a much better display.

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Sony's PRS-505: paperback wiper?

The PRS-505 uses E Ink's latest display technology, which is able to show eight levels of grey instead of the previous version's four. It also updates the image on display in around half the time and has a 25 per cent greater brightness. However, the screen is still the same 6in size as featured on the earlier model, the PRS-500.

Most of the PRS-505's additional updates are purely aesthetic. Some option buttons have been moved from the bottom of the screen to its left-hand side. Two additional "page flick" buttons, also on the left-hand side, have been created, which Sony claims makes for faster and more intuitive page - in short, mimicking a real book.

The PRS-505 features the same 800MHz Intel Celeron processor, 128MB of memory and 20MB hard drive that its predecessor had. Once again, the device has a battery life quoted as around 7500 page turns and promised to ship it with at least a USB 1.1 or faster port. The latest model comes bundled with an external CD-Rom drive.

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Sony's PRS-505: judge it by its cover?

Sony claims the PRS-505 stores about 160 books on its internal hard drive, with users able to transfer content onto it from a range of sources, such as the company's online e-book store. It can also be used as a portable hard drive, allowing users to store, say, documents and images on the device by hooking it up to their PC via USB.

North American bookworms can take the PRS-505 home this month for around $300 (£150/€190), with a choice of silver or blue colours. No European release date or price has yet been announced.

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