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Sony Reader Daily Edition Digital Book PRS950SC: Sony ereader Review

Screen: 7" eink display
Internal Memory: 2 GB
Connectivity: WiFi, USB
Dimensions: 7.9"High, 5" Wide, 0.4" Depth
Weight: 9.6 oz. What holiday is today?

By Sophia Schmidt

Sony Reader Daily Edition Digital Book: Sony Offers Its First WiFi ereader

Sony developed the PRS-950 ereader in response to the latest consumer technology trends for ereaders coming from its competition – kindle and nook. The larger -7-inch-, more sensitive touch screen, 3G wifi access instead of USB-only downloads, more memory expansion are just a few of the major upgrades Sony made with their latest ereader. At the most expensive pricepoint to date, $299, we wanted to review the PRS950 ereader to see if it's worth the price of admission.

Appearance rating: 90/100

Sony keeps its simplified and effective navigation buttons on the PRS950. What's most noticeable to the viewer is the display size. At 7 inches, the Sony Reader Daily Edition is the only black and white ereader of its size on the market today, if you exclude the 9 inch kindle that retails for $390. The anti-glare touchscreen seems a notch better than their PRS650 and PRS350 ereader models and the screen resolution of 600 x 1024 is very crisp and appealing.

The added convenience of opening the PRS950 ereader device and turning on the fully charged PRS950 is a very thoughtful customer service gesture on Sony's part, so that users can immediately get reading by downloading free and paid-for books. When opening a book on the touchscreen, it really feels as if there is a large paperback in your hands, yet it's less cumbersome than the paperback equivalent would be. This is something that hits home with many users if you enjoy reading lying down. Noticeable too is that the back of the device is very comfortable and soft to the touch. Carrying the PRS950 around requires a little more thinking than Sony's earlier ereader devices, simply because of its larger size. Also, at this pricepoint, users may want to make an investment in a carrying case for the product, where the PRS350 ereader doesn't even seem to need a cover.

Ereader Ink Legibility Rating: 95/100

Paperback Feel, Digital Ereader Memory

In-line with all of the other Sony ereader products, the e-ink on this device gives users a book-like feel in a digital format. It's important to note here that Sony uses the same e-ink screen as the Kindle and gives users an extra diagonal inch, meaning that the entire surface area is much larger. The screen adjusts font sizes up to six times, which gives readers of all ages plenty of options. Although only two font styles are offered with the ereader, these are the most comfortable to read from and we felt that Sony did a good job of limiting choice in this area.

From a pure reading perspective, the black/white font e-ink colors are very pleasing. Because Sony does not use a backlit screen, their ereader series cause less eye strain than an LCD screen. Because of the way the touch screen works with no backlight, it's actually possible to read on the PRS-950 in strong sunlight. If you're a night reader, then you'll still need light of some sort external from the actual ereader. In comparison to LCD backlit screens, such as your smart phone, the e-ink display will be much softer on the eye, perhaps comparable to that of reading a paper book.

Serious Notetakers Will Like the PRS950 ereader

E-reader navigation is the same as it was for Sony's earlier ereader devices, yet there are some slight changes to the menu because of its Wifi capabilities. The touch screen performed well to our finger movements. It seems much more sensitive to the touch than Sony's earlier ereader models, which require a bit more pressure than what is needed with the PRS950 ereader. Flipping back and forth through pages was very easy. In fact, you needed to give much less movement than it would take to actually turn a page. The sensitivity however is most important for the user who wants to highlight or look up vocabulary words on the large supply of complete dictionaries pre-installed on the ereader. This becomes particularly important for the graduate or post-graduate student or lawyer-type in your household.

The black/white flashing that goes on between page turns is still in play here with the Sony PRS950 e-reader, which is something that becomes annoying, particularly if you're a fast reader or are reading in a large font format. The Sony ereader series, as mentioned, does a great job of managing page numbers, so you can be sure where you are in a book. As mentioned in prior review, hopefully the tech makers will remove this feature from future iterations.

Access to notes and bookmarks is provided in one unified spot on the ereader. Sony does a solid job of pagination and keeping up with where notes were taken and adjusts its page selection under different font sizes as well. This aggregation of personal notes and page marks is extremely useful for individuals who are writing reports or just enjoy note taking. It seems to improve the reading experience when notes can be found so quickly versus having to sort through a book for material. The search function on the ereader was also helpful in finding words or phrases and quickly taking the reader to these sections.

Users who plan to read PDF documents such as medical reports and other articles on their ereader will find that Sony's ereader has mastered the use of a reflow tool to automatically adjust PDF text flow into your viewing page size.

Getting Rid of the Highlighter

Sony's PRS950 also comes with its text highlighting tool, which can be done very simply by placing your finger on a word or stretching your finger over a section of wording. Here, the ereader is much more responsive than its earlier peers. The freehand note taking feature is also a handy tool if this is how you like to take notes and it can also be done with either your finger or with the embedded stylus found along the right side of the device. While the stylus seems to small for comfort for most users, through these several reviews, its comfort level is now better. As mentioned in the PRS350 e-reader review, the stylus and ability to draw on the device is a well thought of additional tool for parents – this could be the ticket between a very long plane ride or a very sane plane ride.

The dictionaries pre-installed on the Sony device are very solid ones. Users can select from several dictionaries, including translation dictionaries in English - French, English – German, English – Spanish and even English – Italian. Again, the Sony PSR-950 receives high marks in our review for these features. It is not possible, however, to add a dictionary through a download and use it as the basis for the dictionary while reading another book.

Compatability Rating: 95/100

Your Permanent Library Collection

Now that the Sony ereader offeres Wifi, the stakes are definitely higher again. For users who want to own the entire set of ebooks the purchase, like they would do with owning physical books, the Sony ereader option is a very good way to go. This is because any book that is downloaded through your Sony library or Borders library or other free library account will remain in your library. This is very different from the Amazon and Barnes & Noble ereader models, where users are given a license of usage that is tied to what these two retailers have with booksellers. So if a license ends with Amazon or Barnes and Noble, then the ebook you thought you owned will disappear from your electronic library.

Wifi Puts the World at This EReader's Fingertips

Using the Wifi functionality for downloading books was very quick. Once users are within their account, it's simply a drag and drop feature to get the ebook loaded onto the device. We found the download times very fast. Users of the Sony ereader devices also have the benefit of using several different libraries, including your local public library if available, from which to download books. With both the kindle e-reader and nook ereader, you are completely limited to the books that are within Amazon and Barnes and Noble's ebook shelves. Users may select from DRM Text, including ePub (Adobe DRM protected), PDF (Adobe DRM protected), BBeB Book (PRS DRM protected), Text, RTF for their ereader.

Sony's website offers an array of reading material, including magazines and newspapers. Different from the Sony PRS650 6-inch or PRS-350 5-inch ereader, reviewing a full spread magazine or newspaper is much more comfortable on this ereader. The wifi capability on this ereader certainly increases the potential to use this regularly. Sony has also added an audio player to its PRS950, so users who enjoy listening to music in the background now have this capability as well in one device.

Battery Rating: 90/100

The Paperless Dream

The Sony ereader series continues to outperform others in battery life. The PRS950 is said to stay active through 12,000 page turns or up two weeks of reading. This makes the Sony ereader a solid tool for transporting on trips, especially if you like to stay connected to the news through a newspaper subscription. Sony's battery life is managed by shutting off every several minutes until it is prompted again. Recharging can thankfully be done through a USB port or adapter, which is clutch when you're trying to keep gear to a reasonable level, let alone minimal. Our other reviewers believe the battery life is between 5 and 6 years, which is 2 to 3 years more than a laptop.

Sony Looks to Convert Early Adopters to Its Sony Reader series

Good news coming from Sony this holiday season. If you are typically among the first to purchase new technology, Sony wants you to try its Sony Reader product. Sony's current offer is a $75 credit towards a new Sony Reader when you trade in any brand eReader.

Overall Rating: 91/100

With its 7-inch touch screen, improved anti-glare and faster touch screen sensitivity than earlier models, the Sony PRS950SC ereader 7" touch screen is a well-designed upgrade to its ereader family. While the price of the Sony is a bit steep, if you are an avid reader and would leverage Sony's open format access capabilities, then this unit is a solid choice.

Perfect ereader for: Traveling Professional, Graduate or University Student, Technology Proficient Reader, Soccer Mom/ Soccer Parent, Young Students, Users who like reading and listenting to music at the same time

Not an ereader for: Professionals Seeking Newspaper and Magazine EReading Abilities, Technology Challenged Users





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