Review: Sony Reader PRS-T1 – put under a microscope, literally

Sony sent me a PRS-T1 for review – and at the outset let me say what a nice unit it is.  Let’s start with a comparison to my new Kindle.  (Of course the best comparison is to the new Kindle Touch, but that isn’t out yet.)

Here are two screens side-by-side.  I used the third largest font for both pictues as well as the same passage from the same book.  The Kindle is on the right:



As you can see there isn’t much difference between them, which is to be expected since they are both using the Pearl screen.  The addition of touch doesn’t detract from the sharpness of the Sony display.  Here are two shots of the screens under a 10X microscope:




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Now let’s look at them at 60X:






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It looks as if the units are using slightly different anti-ailaising schemes. also, as much as I tried to match the typeface, it looks as if the fonts are slightly different.  In practice, however, both units are crisp and clear.

The Sony is all plastic with a non-slip back and comes with a quick-start guide, usb cable and a stylus.  There is no way to store the stylus in the unit, however, so I’m sure most users will soon lose it.  Installed on the unit are two public domain books (Around the World in 80 Days and The Jungle Book) and excerpts from The Girl in the Mirror and Lost in Shangri-La.  Happily, also installed is a 179-page User Guide.

I’ve always been a fan of the Sony Reader menu system and this one is excellent as well.  In my view it is much clearer and easier to use than the menu system on the Kindle.

Here are a couple of examples of the home screen:




Never having used a touch eink ereader it took me a bit of time to get used to using my fingers.  Page changes can be done by using the buttons at the bottom or by swiping.  A preference setting allows you to set the page turn to a swipe left or swipe right.  Of course, since it’s a touch unit, there is all sorts of stuff you can do.  When you press and hold on a word the following menu comes up:


You can also highlight a word and add a note, either by using the keyboard or by drawing.  I chose drawing:



Click on the box and your note comes up:



Hitting the menu button while reading brings up a huge number of options at the bottom of the page.  Page formatting options are far more extensive than the Kindle.



Of course, this being a touch unit, one of the options is for drawing on the page.


The browser settings have 19 elements you can adjust.  The unit has the ability to use a microSD card (not included) and one of the settings allows you to set all downloads to go to the card.  Unlike the Kindle, the browser is right up front on the home page.  Clearly it is not “experimental”.

As you can see there is a direct link to the Sony Reader Store Google Books section in the browser, which is a great idea.  Here is one of the screens.  There are 5 screens all-told.


The browser actually works and is fairly quick.  I wouldn’t make it my default method of searching the web, but it is far more useful than the one contained on the Kindle.  It can deal with fairly complicated pages.  Here, for example is a site you have probably seen before:



Good job, Sony!

As to regular reading, the unit is responsive and seems just a fast as the Kindle.  No differences here.

Now to the public library experience.  When you hit the Library button on the home page you are taken to a Sony/OverDrive welcome screen.  Here it is:


Then you go to a Find Library page:


I entered my Zip and the following came up:


When I clicked on the Bernardsville link I was taken here:



When I followed the DigitalLibraryNJ link here is what came up:


Sony has made the library process extremely simple.  Given the rather complicated Amazon process, if you are are interested in library borrowing then there is no question that the Sony is the unit to have.

Overall, the Sony is an excellent unit and clearly it is one to get if you want to use public libraries.  The Reader comes in red, white and black and is $149 at the SonyStyle store.    Accessories include regular and lighted covers, an AC adapter and an ebook gift card.



7 Comments on Review: Sony Reader PRS-T1 – put under a microscope, literally

  1. Surely as the Kindle Touch is not available as yet, the better comparison would have been the Kobo Touch.

  2. Pretty amazing stuff, compared with the PRS-500 I bought way back when it was the latest gizmo. The Kindle’s pearl screen has excellent contrast and is really nice; my brother has just bought one and I was able to compare it side by side with my Kindle 3.

    BTW Paul, you have been hiding your artistic light under a bushel :-)

  3. You didn’t even mention one of Sony’s most distinctive features…. Zoom in epub.

    Absolutely great when you have a book with high quality images with fine details (ex: maps, geneology trees, etc.).

    Unfortunately, most publishers scale the images to such a low resolution, the details are lost anyhow.

  4. I’ve been using the Overdrive system since it’s inception – Mobipocket, PDF, ePub – I’ve used them all. I recently switched to Kindle loans because I’ve found it amazingly simple on my iPad.

    Is it much more complicated on an actual Kindle? I’ve debated buying the Kindle Touch for my e-ink needs, but am waiting for reviews.

  5. “Given the rather complicated Amazon process…”

    I’m rather confused by this statement. I have found the process of checking out a library book on my Kindle incredibly simple – much more so than the original way that Sony (and all the other ePub readers) did. There is no need to sign into Adobe Digital Editions, plug in the device to the computer and have it transferred.

    How does the Sony library borrowing process handle the DRM from Overdrive? Did you have to log into a Sony account? An Adobe account? Does it store that information so you only have to do it at the initial setup?

    Can the books checked out on the PRS-T1 also be accessed and read on other devices that can access Overdrive? When you check out a book on the Kindle, you can also send that to any other device (smartphone, tablet, computer, cloud reader) and read it there as well.

  6. Karen Bartlett // October 26, 2011 at 11:24 pm //

    I have recently purchase a Sony PRS-T1, and having read this review have discovered that I do not have the “Public Library” option, as shown above on page 2 of the Home Page. Is this not available in Australia??

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