Sony Reader Daily Reviewed: Do Not Buy

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

Our friend Mark Spoonauer at Laptop published the first major review of Sony's 3G-connected Daily Edition ebook reader. Despite Mark's diplomatic tone, you can tell he thinks it sucks.

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As a side note, I don't have a review unit of my own to check out. But I don't need to to know that this Daily has the same screen—and screen problems—as the Sony Reader Touch. And, according to Mark, a few more.

Many people know that the Sony Reader Touch Edition I reviewed recently has a film over it that causes glare and makes reading difficult. I speculated that the Daily Edition would have the same unbearable screen covering, and according to Spoonauer's review, it does. As he puts it:

Due to the extra layer Sony added to the screen to enable touch functionality, the Daily Edition's E-Ink display looks somewhat dull compared to non-touch eReaders, such as the Kindle and Nook... We did find that when reading in medium to low lighting we felt more eye strain with the Daily Edition than with other eReaders.

So my chief complaint on the Touch would apparently be my chief complain on the Daily. Anyone who cares about the value of e-ink—how it is easier on the eyes than LCD—should steer clear of both the Touch and the Daily.

If that were all, the consumer attractiveness of this device might be debatable. But Spoonauer had other beefs with the product. He also cites interface "sluggishness" and network connectivity drops that led him to feel it was "easier to browse and search the store on our computer." So like yikes.

Spoonauer concludes his piece—which I encourage you to read—with a verdict that the Kindle is still way better, and that even the Nook is a better choice for people who particularly want a touch interface.

I recognize that by writing this, I forfeit my request to a review, but truth be told, I have always respected Spoonauer's opinion, and given his thorough work, if he didn't like it, neither will I. I hereby wash my hands of the whole Sony Reader touchscreen nightmare. By his word and by our experience with previous devices, do not buy the reader. [Laptop]

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DISCUSSION

chefgon
chefgon

I own a Sony Reader Touch Edition and while I do generally agree that the screen is prone to glare issues, it is hardly the deal-breaker that some people make it out to be. I do wish that they had gone to a little more trouble to make the resistive layer less reflective, but at the same time it's never more than a minor annoyance in real-world use.

If I'm reading and I find that there's a glare on the screen preventing me from reading easily, I can tilt the device one or two degrees and the glare is gone. I agree that this is a hassle that I shouldn't have to deal with, but in the grand scheme of things it is not something that prevents me from using it or negates the advantages of the e-ink screen.

I think what differentiates reviews like these (which are mostly negative) with ones from real-world users (which are mostly positive) is that tech reviewers judge the screen quality by sitting it side-by-side with a Kindle, while home users judge the screen quality by actually reading on it. Of course if you sit it next to a Kindle you're going to notice that the screen is slightly less clear and dramatically more prone to glare, but chances are if you're just using it to read books it's never going to bother you. That may prove that the Kindle has a better screen, but it fails to prove that you should write off the Sony Reader entirely due to its inferior screen.