updated 10:30 am EDT, Wed August 31, 2011
Sony Reader Wi-Fi PRS-T1 takes Xperia influence
Sony on Wednesday confirmed a long-expected update to its Reader e-book hardware. The Reader Wi-Fi, or PRS-T1, borrows much of its influence from the Xperia smartphone line, down to an 0.35-inch thickness and a lighter six-ounce weight dictated by a switch from aluminum to plastic. The design runs on a much newer, E Ink-made six-inch Pearl screen and now supports multi-touch for zoom as well as page turns through swipes.
The PRS-T1 is the first Sony e-reader to have just Wi-Fi and can use it either to shop for books or to quickly visit a few key sites, such as Google's core search engine or Wikipedia. Battery life is still estimated at a long five weeks or 14,000 page turns, although Sony hasn't said if this is with Wi-Fi left on.
Readers can now write notes or highlight anywhere on the page; although it's not needed, a pen is bundled with the new model to make it easier. Sony goes beyond basic reading to include 12 dictionaries, basic photo viewing, and music support with a headphone jack. Its built-in 2GB of storage is enough for about 1,200 books but is supported by a microSD card slot.
Sony as of this writing hadn't outlined what the Reader Wi-Fi would cost or when it would ship, though it will have to compete with the $139 for the Amazon Kindle and equivalent Nook. The design is Sony's first in roughly a year and is coming side-by-side with the launch of two Android tablets, the Tablet S and Tablet P, that put pressure on Sony to keep its conventional e-readers' prices low.