E-readers are old news, I know. Until now, I had managed to avoid the phenomenon entirely, as the thought of having one more device scared me away from even considering one. Sadly, I also haven't been reading as much, despite having made the effort to download books to my iPad. I was ready to embrace the digital reading experience, but found that I could never get lost in a book there, with e-mail, twitter, or a game just a button's press away. Recently, I had the opportunity to check out Sony's line consumer electronics (full disclaimer, they sent me one to test out), including the Sony Reader WiFi. It didn't take long for me to realize that this tiny device deserved a home in my day bag AND travel bag. Easy to pack, distraction free and just the right size. I just may be an e-reader fan, after all.
I'm easily distracted. Oooh shiny! While it's convenient to have a device that does anything and everything, when it comes to reading you don't need any distractions. You need a dedicated device. A traditional book accomplishes that and I think that Sony mirrors the book experience quite nicely with its easy to read e-ink and easy to hold size. But, the Sony Reader WiFi also enhances the reading experience from the traditional book, with built in dictionaries, access to the web and the ability to play music. But, most importantly, it creates an environment for one activity, reading. Load up some music, open a book and read, plain and simple.
E-ink, I'll admit, was a hard sell at first, with the flashing that occurs at each page turn irking me. But after an adjustment period and the realization that e-ink allowed me to read text in bright, bright sun, I quickly forgot about the flashing. The battery life is another selling point, with over a month of reading with one charge. I like not having to worry about charging on the road or even packing a cable for trips. And the obvious bonus of being able to load up a bunch of books or download them while on the road, all from this small package makes a reader appealing for this minimalist packer. (Bonus, you can check out e-books from many libraries, as well.)
Sony has the lightest device on the market. Ok, it may just be an ounce less than its competitors, but when you're on the road and toting every possession with you, every bit counts. I toss my Sony Reader WiFi into a bag without giving it a second thought. A notebook and wallet weigh more and take up far more space than it does in my bag. It's so light and so thin, that I just don't need to think about it. With so many other packing decisions to make and second-guess, it's nice to have one that really just doesn't matter.
I've handled competitors models briefly, and have found, for me at least, that they are a two handed deal. A traditional book, even, requires two hands. But Sony's reader is light enough and the right dimensions that I can hold it with one hand, regardless of its orientation. My preferred reading style is landscape mode in my left hand, while using the buttons to advance pages.
And unlike other e-readers, I like how the Sony Reader has both options when it comes to user interface. Touchscreen swiping is great, but having buttons to navigate with sometimes makes more sense. Depending on your habits, you can find a user interface that works best for you. The touch screen also allows you to take notes with the included stylus and offers an easy press and hold feature to look up unfamiliar words. Even better, in addition to the two English dictionaries, are the ten translation dictionaries allowing you to look up words in many languages. I would have killed for this feature when learning Italian and am now motivated to brush up on my reading comprehension. (Curious how Sony's reader stacks up against its competitors? Sony has compiled this quick cheat sheet.)
Yes, there are tons of readers on the market, but I think that Sony's thinner, lighter design makes it stand out for the traveler. The Sony Reader WiFi comes in black, white, or red and retails for $129. (Available for purchase online directly from Sony or other online retailers)