updated 11:15 am EDT, Tue August 25, 2009
Sony Reader Daily Edition
Sony today claimed the trophy of the second company in the US with a 3G-aware reader by unveiling the Reader Daily Edition, its third new e-book reader this year. The new model is intended for reading newspapers and other periodicals and comes with a larger 7-inch, touchscreen display. Unlike Amazon's choice of Sprint for the Kindle, though, the Sony device will have free 3G access through AT&T. Adding the always-on data link lets users sync books over the air instead of having to transfer through USB.
Landscape mode is equally fresh and, thanks to the wide aspect ratio of the display, lets many books show two full pages side-by-side at the same time.
The new Reader ships in December for $399 and will be accompanied by new eBook Library 3.0 software that adds Mac support for the first time as well as the option of printing out notes that were typed out on a touchscreen reader.
As part of the launch, Sony is additionally rolling out a new library checkout system that will let those visiting supporting libraries get e-book versions of the material. Once a physical book is checked out, the system will let users download and read a Reader-formatted version of the same text for up to 29 days. New York City's Public Library will be the first to participate, but more are promised.
The existence of the new reader puts further pressure on companies known or believed to be developing touchscreen-only tablets, such as Archos and Apple, as their hardware is expected to have much stronger media features but will cost significantly more and should be poorly suited compared to dedicated e-book devices, nearly all of whom use e-paper displays and are both easier on eyes as well as much longer-lasting on a battery charge.