If you find yourself without a spare memory card, Sony has done you a favour by increasing the built-in storage from 192 to 512MB so you can squeeze a fair few books – about 350, according to Sony - onto the Reader straight out of the box. Still, Flash isn't that expensive in small amounts, and rival e-book readers, like Bookeen's Cybook Opus, come with 1GB of on-board storage.
Boost the 512MB of on-board storage with SD and Memory Stick
The 600's display is the latest electronic paper offering from E Ink, called Vizplex. Like the screen in the original Reader, it stretches 6in corner-to-corner, has a resolution of 800 x 600 and displays images in eight shades of grey.
To be honest, we struggled to see any real differences between the new screen and the one in the old Reader, though the effective viewing angle did seem to be a little greater than we recall. On the downside, it also appeared a bit more reflective.
Not having the two side-by-side to compare, both differences could, however, just be down to our over-active imagination. Either way, the new Reader is just as easy to read as the old.
While the first Reader had 17 buttons on its face, the Touch makes do with just five, all set in row below the screen. These take care of the basic functions of turning pages, accessing the home screen, zooming in and out and firing up the context-dependent options menus. Everything else is controlled through the touchscreen.
There's a power port, but the adaptor is an optional extra
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the UI, it's worth pointing out that anyone used to an iPhone or suchlike is going to be a bit taken aback by the performance of the PRS-600's resistive screen, at least on first use.
@ Paul 37
I've found a much better alternative
Its an open-source repository of every book published. Its works on simple magstripe technology. It goes several hundred years between charge-ups and best of all is absolutely free.
According to the graphic on the front its made by Spelthorne Borough Council and is badged up as a "Library Card".
Am I the only one who suspects these things are only used by the same people who sit and write their novels on Macs in Starbucks ? To quote Family Guy, "Writing isn't writing unless somone is watching you doing it"
Disappointed... exchanged it
I took my recently-purchased 600 back to Waterstones. I was slightly nervous about this, since waterstones.com has a "We do not offer refunds or exchanges for ereader devices" disclaimer, but I thought I had a reasonable case of "Not fit for purpose." What use is a ereader if reading off it is uncomfortable?
Anyway, the manager of the store was polite and would have given me a refund, but instead I asked for an exchange, and took away for the smaller "Pocket" edition. This doesn't have the touch screen, and the screen quality is day to the 600's night. Brighter "white" level, and only point sources generate disruptive reflections in the pocket's screen, instead of any illuminated object.
Much happier now.
I don't get eBooks, either
I was a long time Palm user and read many books on it. I loved the way the text would scroll and I could read without having to do page turns. Now I have an iPhone and last night I was reading Edith Wharton as I came home on the London Underground. The book was free and the gadget I carry around anyway.
I never had any problem reading books on the Palm or on the iPhone. I don't understand why one would want to spend so much money and carry an extra gadget just to read books, unless one needs to take notes, which is not my case. My Palm had good dictionaries and so does my iPhone, and if I did occasionally need to take notes I might be able to do that anyway using a notes app. The smallness of the Palm|iPhone makes it ideal to get out in a crowded train. When I stay with my daughter I sleep in a bed without a bedside light. That is no problem with the Palm|iPhone, either, as the screen is backlit. I don't know whether readers like the Sony can be used in the dark.
Disappointed by the screen quality
The touch-screen layer of the 600 model seems to make the screen both more dim, and more reflective. The combination of the two makes it awkward to read, for me at least. I have to angle it to try to find a dark patch so I can "see through" it to the screen.
If e-ink displays are supposed to be easy on the eye and more like the experience of reading a printed page, then for me this model's screen is sub-standard.
In short: find somewhere you can give the 600 a good test read in representative lighting conditions before committing to it. Check that it works for you.