Yesterday was the Sony Reader Meet Up in New York City, and a very awesome crowd of people were in attendance, which was awesome. There were passed hors d’oeuvres and refreshing beverages, or grog, if you’re me, and there were giant TVs all over the place that didn’t fit in my purse or else I’d have one now.
What *did* fit in my purse but what I alas do not have with me now are the new Sony Readers. The new line was introduced to the crowd at the Meetup, after which we talked about what books we’re reading, which books we were loving, and which books were not rocking our worlds. During the book chat, the Readers were passed around so everyone could try them out. Plus, everyone who attended received a coupon via email for a free download from a selection of Carina Press books – which I recommended because they are DRM free. If you’re curious about digital books, DRM-free is a good place to start with your trial reading. (Thank you, Carina!!)
They were sleek and sexy and beautiful and since the event, many people have asked me what I think. Here’s my exact answer:
- They are thinner, sleeker, different, and gorgeous to look at and lightweight to hold. The new Sony Pocket, for example, is amazing in the thin-and-light aspects.
- The aluminum cases that come in pink (for the Pocket) and red (for the Touch and I believe also the Daily) are piles and light years the most attractive devices I’ve seen.
- The new eInk resolution is spifftacular. When the Pocket was across the room from me, I could still see the difference in contrast, too. The letters are darker, the background is lighter, and the increased contrast makes me one happy reader.
- The touchscreens do NOT have that hazy film that degrades the text so that the edges of the letters are fuzzy and harder to read. The older touchscreens on the Sony devices, such as the 700, were harder for me to read because of that muddy quality on the surface- almost like I was reading without my glasses on.
- The ability to borrow books from the library: tres awesomesauce. I wish Sony would highlight the library borrowing ability more heavily in their advertising campaigns for the Readers, because it’s a brilliant feature of their devices. The Sony Reader and the Kobo have it – and both should pimp it harder, imo.
- In the “Bonus, Honus!” department: on the Sony devices is a library finder option that allows you to find the nearest digital-lending library according to your zipcode. You can also search for digital lending libraries on Overdrive‘s website. Just click the “Search for a Library” tab in the middle.
- The new features to come in the “very soon” near future: Goodreads reviews will be integrated into the Sony eBookstore, which is also going to be gifted with that spiffy option to pre-order books.
Yes, after the litany of rather win-full improvements to the line of Sony Readers, I had to say… BUT. But I do not understand the price points, and am mystified as to whether these improvements are enough of a positive to (a) justify the price difference compared to other wireless devices already available and (b) justify to a curious digital reader the actual purchase of a Sony device.
For me personally, I’d have to collect some gift cards to bring the price down before I could purchase one. I do miss the ease of organization, the ability to borrow from the New York Public Library, the tagging and the sexy friendship between the Sony Readers and Calibre’s tagging system. (I am still evaluating the Kindle III:TamTam Edition, and will write up my review after I travel with it this weekend.) I have pondered switching back to a Sony, especially as the rumors of new improved devices popped up this past week. But I don’t know that I could justify the purchase price when, for me, the improvements don’t justify that cost difference.
Also, that may be why the library-borrowing isn’t highlighted as much, because anyone who drops that kind of money on an e-Reader probably isn’t a regular patron of the local library for cost-cutting measures. Moreover, it would be pretty difficult to make the argument that reading digital library books over the course of a year or two would allow the device to “pay for itself” with books you “didn’t buy.”
My own misgivings and curiosity aside, I do maintain that This Isn’t The Highlander. There doesn’t have to be only one Reader to rule them all. We don’t all own just one television (though Sony might appreciate it if we did!) and we don’t own just one type of car. So having more than one option in digital reading makes me happy – and having three pretty slick options from Sony also makes me happy. But the price? Not so much with the happy. My reaction to the prices is more along the line of 0_o?
This article by Larry Dignan at ZDNet explains the global perspective that must be employed when looking at the new line of Sony Readers. I see his point, and think it is a good one, but for me and my wallet, I’m waffling.
But back to the devices themselves at the meetup. One device was raffled off, and Kate Garrabrant won – the second time she’s won a Sony Reader in a random drawing I’ve done. This is eerie, no question.
Have some pics! And video!
Pardon the blurry picture, but look! It’s a low-light living room in the Sony Style Store! (Nice small event space, seriously).
Stacy Agdern holds the Sony Touch and the Sony Pocket (note again, dim light, I’m sorry about that).
You can see the note-taking features on the Sony Pocket on the right. Using the onboard stylus, you can highlight and write notes on the screen, but I found after some trial and error that screen response improved with a continued pressure for writing, so writing in script worked much better than printing individual letters.
The Sony Daily Edition – big, especially given my small hands.
Turning the Pages on the Sony Pocket:
The highlight (aside from the grog, obviously) was the opportunity to try out the three new Sony Readers and to see the huge selection of cases that are coming for each one. One case has an onboard light that Angela James demoed for me. I really liked this case – it was much lighter weight than the light-panel case for prior Sony models.
When I can get an extended date with some of the Sony Reader line, I’ll post a more detailed review. Kwana Minatee-Jackson posted Meetup thoughts and pics online, and Susan Blexrud, who was in town from North Carolina dropping her son at graduate school, also attended with her husband. While Susan already has a digital reader, her husband left the event thinking that he really wanted a Sony Reader. It was a very spiffy demo, both for Mr. Blexrud and for me as well. Thank you to Sony Style for hosting the event and inviting me, and to Carina Press for offering a free download to those who attended.
So, what about you? Are you thinking about the new Sonys? What do you think of what you’ve heard?