New Sony Readers are here, geared, get used to it
There are typically two lines of thought when it comes to selling your product to the masses. The first is to make it more affordable than your competitors while offering similar services. The second is to make it a better product than you competitors. It’s obvious which way of thinking Sony was going for in its Sony Reader refresh, but can they accomplish it?
When we first posted about the Reader refresh three weeks ago, we were hoping for a few things. First, that the new Readers would be competitively prices in relation to the Kindle and Nook. Second, that with this new upgrade in touch interface they would find a way around the murky, cloudy resistive touch screen found in their PRS-600 and PRS-900 models. Well, one for two ain’t bad.
Gone is the cloudy touchscreen. It’s been replaced with an E-Ink Pearl display that looks clear and full of contrast. The touchscreens as well have gone optical for detecting jabby little fingers. It’s something we’re excited to hear, but we’ll wait on platitudes until we see it in action — specifically direct sunlight action. The Readers have also gone slimmer and lighter, as is the trend, while increasing page turn speed significantly. What hasn’t been slimmed is the price. Instead of keeping the recently close-out prices of the Touch and Pocket Editions, the prices have been bumped up significantly (the Daily retains its previous price).
The base Sony Reader, the PRS-350 Pocket Edition, now starts at $179. Now there’s a lot that has been improved with the Reader, but it still has no WiFi or 3G connection. What it does give you is a 5-inch touchscreen and 2GBs of memory (update: we previously reported that it had a SD card slot for additional storage, but Sony’s specs show no sign of it). Will that be enough for people to buy the PRS-350 over the cheaper Kindle and Nook WiFi versions or the slightly more expensive 3G connected Kindle and Nook versions? With the popularity of Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s eReaders, that’s going to be a tough sell.
The refreshed Sony Touch Edition Reader, PRS-650, is now priced at $229. Weighing in at .4 pounds (which makes it nearly $36 per ounce), the Touch Edition features the new upgrades along with 2GB of storage, SD card and MemoryStick Pro (let it die Sony. Let it die) slots. Finally, the Sony Daily Edition Reader, PRS-950, keeps the same price, screen size and connection options while conforming to the upgrades. Coming out in November, it will be the highest priced eReader available in most stores. Eek?