Sony has decided to update its eBook reader range bringing touch functionality to all editions and a host of other new features. The Japanese consumer electronics group is competing with online retailer Amazon, US bookseller Barnes & Noble, and others as device-makers race to meet the surging demand for e-books.
On Wednesday, Sony announced a new version of its Reader line-up of E-ink devices including its standard six-inch Touch Edition, the diminutive five-inch Pocket Edition, and larger seven-inch Daily Edition, each thinner, lighter, and featuring a more attractive display than the last version of those gadgets. But with the exception of the Daily Edition, each device is more expensive than the equivalent Amazon reader: The Pocket will sell for $179, the Touch for $229, and the Daily for $299, compared to Amazon’s recently released $139 Kindle, $189 Kindle with 3G capabilities, and $379 Kindle DX.
All three Sony models will have touch screens, a feature that would set them apart from other dedicated e-readers and give users “a more natural reading experience,” said Steve Haber, head of digital reading at Sony. The Pocket and Touch Editions will be available internationally, while the Daily Edition will be limited to the US.
Sony also says that it’s preparing to release a computer and mobile application — similar to what Amazon offers — that will enable people who read e-books on any of these devices to pick up where they left off when they return to their Sony Reader.
Sony continues to make high quality devices, and its new suite of Readers will probably be embraced by reviewers, according to Dominic Field, analyst with the Boston Consulting Group. Yet, Sony’s ambitions are being curtailed by falling e-reader prices and competitors who have established relationships with book buyers.