Other Media Review

Sony 700 Review: by Test Driver Linsey

Used by permission of Sony Electronics IncI was waiting for the bus, reading The Virgin Secretary’s Impossible Boss on my Sony 700—finally HPs and I could once again indulge in our secret love!—when the guy next to me leaned over. 

“Hey, is that a Kindle?”

Sadly this was not the first time I’ve been asked this question during the test drive, and it wouldn’t be the last. Oh, Sony marketing fail. 

“Nope,” I explained, “it’s a Sony PRS-700 ebook reader.” 

I showed him the touch screen with its iPod like icons, and I showed him the catalogue function. I even did a little demo to illustrate how the touch screen could be used to flip pages with a swipe of the finger. 

“Best of all,” I ended my little sales pitch, “it has the ability to operate outside of Amazon!”

“Nice,” he agreed. “Where do you get one?”

Ah, yes, about that. They’re extinct, and it’s pretty hard to convince someone to go Sony when your model is already obsolete. Even as I write this review the 700 is nowhere to be found on the Sony website and the only 505s remaining are the specialized versions. According to reports, in the next several months we’ll see two new Sony models: the 300 and the 600. Both sound like they have advantages over their predecessors—which is good. Although I like the ability to catalogue my books, shop where I want, and the fact that no one can take my books away from me with a click of a button, there are features I hope they improve.

While I’m a fan of the 700’s touch screen, the e-ink technology being used makes the screen far too dark to read on in anything other than direct light. I find myself using the backlight more often than not, just so I can provide enough contrast between the screen and the text to read. 

When I first discovered this issue, I got online to see if there was any quick work around, only to find that the best suggestion involved taking the Sony apart. I’m pretty sure that would void my warranty.

Constant use of the backlight in turn wears down my battery so quickly that I find myself taking the 700 to work in order to charge it daily. Why take it to work, you ask? Because the 700 needs between two to four hours to charge. I’m not on my laptop that long on my off work hours, and the 700 cannot receive a charge from the USB port when the computer is asleep.* If I had actually purchased the Sony, instead of just test driving it, I definitely would have broken down and bought an a/c outlet cable. As it is now, I ration** my weekend reading so that the battery will last until my next work day. 

With these issues, along with the store’s slow connectivity issues and the basic evil that is DRM, it’s hard to say if the Sony ebook reader is right for me. I’m glad that I got to try out the 700 instead of just buying it, but there is still a great deal of room for improvement. Hopefully the 600 will go a long way towards addressing those concerns, but until I see some reviews I’m not adding it to my Christmas list. 

It’s interesting to note, that right after my talk with bus stop boy, my 75 bus showed up. The bus was full of people reading books—paper books—some definitely from the library, others rereads, and some clearly new. The kid I ended up sitting next to though was reading on his iPhone. While he didn’t even glance my Sony’s way, I was tempted to ask him several times what he was reading, and how he liked it.

And I definitely did not mistake his iPhone for a Kindle. 

* If only I had realized that right away on the day it arrived. I could have avoided a lot of “Hey, it’s done!” “Oh wait, no.” “But yes!” “But no?” Yes, the Sony and I enacted our own scene of forced seduction. Come to think of it, the USB thingie is kind of phallic looking. 

**Rationing, otherwise known as reading books made of dead trees. When participating in said rationing, I highly suggest printing off one of the many, many Borders coupons going around out there and checking out Meredith Duran’s newest.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Tina C. says:

    “Hey, is that a Kindle?”

    Sadly this was not the first time I’ve been asked this question during the test drive, and it wouldn’t be the last. Oh, Sony marketing fail.

    I get that all the time, too.  All, except one, have said the same thing when they asked me about the Reader.  And one guy, when I said, “No, it’s a Sony Reader.” gave me that annoyed “Oh, you’re so pedantic” look and said, “You know what I mean.”  As if “Kindle” was like Kleenex or Coke—so ubiquitous that one obviously means “electronic reading device” when one says it.

    So, yeah, Sony marketing = FAIL and Amazon marketing = boatloads of WIN.  Sony really needs to get on that.

    become44:  actually, I become 43 today,


    44, thank you.

  2. 2

    Kindle has become the generic name for an ereader, most people don’t even know there are other ereaders out there. This is a definite fail on Sony’s part. Even though they’re more available, in places like Target people don’t even know they exist.

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    I think Sony is trying to combat that name ubiquity with the new devices – the Pocket, the Touch and the Daily – because words work much better than a number. I’m trying to think if I own any electronic that I refer to by its number. I think the last time I did, I was talking about my graphics calculator in high school.

    I hope that Sony plays up the bargain option, too: with the Sony you can borrow books from libraries with digital offerings. A Library in your Pocket? Word.

    (Heh – Reach out and Touch your Library. I know the lions at the NYPL love that.)

  4. 4
    Beki says:

    The thought of a library in my pocket is incredibly alluring.  I mean, (drool) really incredibly alluring.  The more I think about it, the better and more seductive that sounds.  Sony needs to step this up.  And how.

  5. 5
    Phyllis says:

    my problem with the library is they don’t have many ebooks and don’t have many new releases. this is one f my points against buying any ereader. oh, i need to go write my own review ;)

  6. 6
    Ashley says:

    I have to agree with Phyllis that not many libraries own e-books, but some do subscribe to databases that offer e-books for downloading.  So while the library doesn’t actually own the book, they still offer that service to their patrons.  I know that my library offers both netLibrary- which is e-books (albeit mostly nonfiction textbooks) and OverDrive which offers both e-books and audiobooks for downloading.

    Also- if I was to buy an e-reader right now, I know for sure that it would not be a Kindle- not until Amazon gets their business figured out.  But I do like e-readers and would love to own one.

  7. 7
    Glynis says:

    Y’now, from an intellectual property viewpoint, Amazon better hop on Kindle before it becomes diluted and un-trademark-able. Not that people would complain.

    Other former trademarks that have become so diluted that they no longer identify a particular good or service? Aspirin, escalator, and thermos. Both Xerox and Coke continue to fuss about dilution—Rollerblade has gone through the same thing.

    Ah, intellectual property law; so weird, so fascinating.

  8. 8
    Dava says:

    Wonder if Sony will also delete their e books. Seems the marketing dept @Sony is in a coma.

  9. 9
    brooksse says:

    Not sure about the PRS-700, but you can still find a new PRS-505 on Amazon. I recently broke my Sony PRS-505. (My own stupid fault for letting it slip out of my hand while trying to carry too many things. Will never do that again!) 

    I decided to order another 505 last weekend (via one of Amazon’s merchants) after reading some reviews of the Touch edition (600) which said the screen clarity is not as good as the 505. Figured I’d better hurry up and buy another 505 while there were still some new ones out there.

    I also decided to buy a Pocket edition (300) from my local Sony store last weekend. Figured if I didn’t like the 300, I could return it before the 2 week return policy is up.  Or I could return the 505 or sell it.

    After having the 300 for almost a week now, I’ve decided to keep them both.  I’ll use the 505 while at home and the 300 when away from home.  The 300 fits nicely in my purse, but I still like the 505 better. The 505’s larger size means less page turns, and I also like it better for reading PDF files.

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