Sony revamps its Reader with Facebook support and Harry Potter

Sony Reader 2012

Check out our full review of the Sony Reader PRS-T2 eReader.

Today, Sony is finally taking the lid off its new E Ink e-reader. The new Sony Reader (PRS-T2) has a better looking and more responsive screen than its predecessors, more touch gestures, some new social features, better library lending, and a new design.

A few weeks back, I was able to connect with Sony here in New York and got some brief hands-on time with the new reader. Though it doesn’t redefine the e-reader by any stretch of the imagination, the new Reader has a much smoother look to it than previous Sony devices. Instead of an ugly silver button bar, the navigation buttons are now shaped like their functions, making it easier to figure out which to press. The screen size is still about six inches, which is standard among e-readers (Kindle and Nook included). It will come in white, black, and red. 

Sony Reader 2011

Sony Reader 2011

I must confess, I haven’t spent a ton of time with previous Sony e-readers, but compared to the last model, this one’s screen has improved. Those familiar with E Ink should be happy that it seems capable of getting more refreshes before a page wipe (a quick black screen) than previous e-readers. New touch gestures like text highlighting with your finger and pinching to zoom in or out are also supported. I did not use a stylus nor recall seeing a slot for one, but Sony’s press release says it comes with one as well, if that’s your preference. 

Sony did a lot of bragging about how easy it is to rent books from your public library with the Sony Reader. The new device lets you borrow a book in only a “four-step process,” which sounds simple enough, though I haven’t been able  to test it out myself. Sharing content with Facebook or Evernote is also now possible. You can post passages from books (purchased in the Reader Store) to Facebook and it will auto copy the book cover, author, and title with the post.  Saving passages to Evernote is also possible, but both of these features require Wi-Fi to be on, of course.

Don’t keep Wi-Fi enabled too long, though. Without it, you can get up to two months of battery life on the Reader, assuming you use it about a half hour a day. Sony reps did not know what the battery life would be if you kept Wi-Fi enabled, but it sounds like it is significantly lower. Still, compared to any other electronic device, any e-reader offers amazing battery life. 

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, Sony is offering those who buy the black version of the Reader a voucher to get Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for free on J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore Shop as well. The Sony Reader has about 1.3GB of open internal storage and a microSD slot, so you’ll have plenty of room for the whole series, and a few thousand more books. In addition to Pottermore, you can buy books from Sony’s Reader Store and access Google’s public domain books (there are a lot of them).

The new Reader PRS-T2 is now available at Sony stores for $130, which is about $50 more expensive than recent Nooks and Kindles. I haven’t spent enough time with it to know if it’s worth the extra cash, but it does seem to be a good e-reader. You can buy a cover with a light for an extra $50.