Sony Reader Pocket Edition review

£150
Price when reviewed

After the disappointments that were the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader Touch, there’s something heartening about the arrival of a more modest device. The Sony Reader Pocket Edition eschews wireless connections and touchscreens, and instead banks on a solid reading experience and an attractive price to caress the cash from your wallet.

Slightly smaller than a paperback and only 10mm thick, the Pocket Edition is, to paraphrase Raymond Chandler, “small and delicately put together, but durable”. Despite being designed to fit in even the snuggest pair of skinny jeans, the silver case is reassuringly solid and braves the interior of a bag with impressive steadfastness.

The skinny-jean crowd will also be happy to hear that it’s a good-looking device, with thoughtful design touches evident in every raised edge and tapered corner. Unfortunately, its looks are marred by the profusion of buttons which brings a sense of fussiness that carries through to the overly dense menus – just getting to page one is more tiresome than it needs to be.

Sony Reader Pocket Edition

Once ensconced in a book, though, these foibles are forgotten. The 5in E Ink screen renders in eight shades of grey, while the three levels of zoom make it ideal for people with poorer eyesight, as does the ability to play audiobooks in the MP3 format.

As a bonus, E Ink screens only use power when changing the page, and Sony reckons the Pocket Edition is good for around 6,800 page turns – more than enough to see you comfortably through the entire wretched Dan Brown canon.

However, these page turns can be an infuriating experience. As with all E Ink-based readers, pressing the page turn button causes the screen to fade to black, before the words materialise like invisible ink out of the page. This transition takes around a second and you’ll soon find yourself in the habit of pressing the page turn button before your eyes hit the bottom of the screen, and this delay shoots up to around six seconds with image-heavy PDFs.

Sony’s back-to-basics approach is also evident in the specification. While the Kindle comes with 2GB of storage, the Pocket Edition is limited to 512MB, enough for around 350 novels. Sony pulled the same trick with the more expensive Reader Touch, but in that case storage was upgradable to 4GB through an SD card. No such option is offered on the Pocket Edition, and while it may not immediately appear much of a limitation it could hamper those loading up audio books.

Despite these drawbacks, it’s hard not to like the Pocket Edition. It offers an excellent reading experience, superb build quality, and is currently the cheapest eBook reader on the market. Given that we’ll be twiddling our thumbs for some time while the UK Kindle gets up to speed, this well-designed little eBook reader is an attractive alternative.

Screen

Screen size 5.0in
Resolution 800 x 600
Colour screen no
Touchscreen no

Battery

Battery Life 6,800 page turns
Integrated memory 0.5GB
Memory-card type N/A

Dimensions

Dimensions 107 x 10 x 158mm (WDH)
Weight 220g

File format support

Plain text yes
HTML no
RTF yes
PDF yes
EPUB yes
BBeB yes
AZW no
Microsoft Word yes

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