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Sony unveils three digital book readers for the holidays

September 1, 2010 |  5:56 pm

Sony Touch Edition Sony, which introduced one of the first digital book readers of the current generation in 2006, on Wednesday announced a fresh lineup of three new devices that incorporate touch screens, sleeker design and a higher-contrast grayscale E Ink screen.

The three models are upgrades of Sony's current trio of products -- Pocket ($179), Touch ($229) and Daily Edition ($299). Here's what's new:

  • At 5.4 ounces, the new Pocket Edition device is 44% to 51% lighter than competing devices. The size of the screen remains 5 inches, measured diagonally, but it now incorporates a new type of touch technology. Instead of adding a touch screen layer on top of the E Ink screen, Sony has embedded infrared technology around the edges of the screen to track the position of the finger.
  • The response time is also faster, in contrast with rival devices that have sometimes lagged close to a second or more.
  • The E Ink screen, which used to look like a wet newspaper, now features a crisper white background, called Pearl.
  • The Daily Edition, available in November, now incorporates Wi-Fi in addition to 3G for basic Web browsing.
  • The devices now feature 10 foreign language dictionaries, including French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch.

Sony is hoping that the new features and slick designs will help differentiate its Readers against a backdrop of intense competition, from lower-priced E Ink readers such as Amazon's Kindle ($139 to $189) and Barnes & Noble's Nook ($149 to $199) to high-priced alternatives such as Apple's iPad ($499 to $829).

That said, the market for digital book readers continues to grow rapidly, allowing most parties to increase sales. "Every time another company announces a new device, our sales go up," said Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading business, based in San Diego.

Our sister blog, Jacket Copy, has a take on the new Sony devices.

-- Alex Pham

Twitter: @AlexPham

 Photo: Sony Touch Edition Reader. Credit: Sony Corp.

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