Review: Sony Touch Edition, Pocket Edition (PRS-350, PRS-650)

Sony announced this pair of ereader in September 2010, and at long last I am posting my review. The Touch Edition and Pocket Edition are updates to Sony's existing 5" and 6". Their design is an evolutionary improvement, and not revolutionary. (I really wish they'd get ahead of their competition, and I'll get into that later in the post.) You can click on all the pictures to view larger versions.

I've decided to post a combined review of these 2 ereaders. For the most part, they are the same device. I feel that there are only 3 differences: screen size, expansion slots, price, and PDF support.  I assume that you know the Pocket Edition has a 5" screen and the Touch Edition has a 6" screen, and of course the Touch Edition costs more.

Let me explain PDFs a little. PDFs might influence which of these 2 devices you buy, but it wouldn't affect me. Since the 6" screen is larger it should do a better job with PDFs. I don't think it does. I'm not happy with PDFs on any 6" screen, and long ago I stopped trying to use anything other than my PC (or a large screen tablet) to read them.

I really do like these ereaders, and aside from the price I can't find much to criticize. (On the other hand, I wasn't wowed by them, either.)  So rather than dissect them (like I've done in the past), I'm going to discuss 2 of the better features, and then I'll briefly discuss why I wouldn't


The new Sony Readers use a touchscreen developed by Neonode. The tech is based on IR sensors, which means there's no sensor layer on top of the E-ink screen to reduce screen quality and there's no Wacom sensor under the screen cutting into battery life. Basically the touchscreen isn't there.

It took me several days to get used to the screen, which is understandable. It is different screen tech from what I've used before so of course it would feel different. But once I did, I really began to appreciate the clarity.

I liked how almost everything inside an ebook could be done on the screen. Sony added all sorts of shortcuts, so there's little reason for you to press the buttons. You swipe to turn the page, but that's just the beginning. Highlight? Double tap and drag. Definition? double tap a word. There are a bunch more, and you really should read the manual to get the full appreciation.


This is the one thing that Sony does better than their competitors. You can highlight and bookmark, of course, but with the Sony Readers you can also add text and scribbled notes. Until the Pocketbook 603 comes out, Sony are the only major ereader manufacturer with this ability.

You can also export the notes, but this function isn't really all that useful.  DRM breaks this for titles emcumbered by it, and even when it works you have to use the Sony Ebook Library app (I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy).  And the output is an RTF file which is poorly formatted and doesn't print well.

Why I won't buy one

It's actually pretty simply. I want page turn buttons. I don't like having to swipe to turn the page. This is a personal preference that's not shared by everyone, but it is a deciding factor for me. Okay, they do have page turn buttons, yes, but I don't like the placement.  They're on the bottom left corner, and they feel like they were added as little more than an after thought.  I can't hold the ereaders in one hand and keep a finger over the page turn buttons, so they're useless to me.

But since Sony have gone all in on touchscreen ereaders, there's a good chance that I'm a minority.

About Nate Hoffelder (11479 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

7 Comments on Review: Sony Touch Edition, Pocket Edition (PRS-350, PRS-650)

  1. Thank you for an honest appraisal of the Sony e readers. n most reviews, the first thing, last thing, and in the middle is mentioned how they lack wifi or 3G. Then the reviewer will skirt around how much better the Sony is at doing what the Sony is made for: the touchscreen.

    I agree that the bottom left hand corner is a poor placement for the page turner. It is legacy from the previous models.

    • Actually, I really wanted Wifi, too. But since this e-reader doesn’t have it I don’t mention it.

      • They spent so much money on the touchscreen that the Wifi and 3G would have made them cost more. The other problem is the Sony Store sucks. That’s why Wifi would not be that important to me in the Sonys.

  2. Yawn. Nothing more than personal opinion. I actually prefer the swipe to turn and hate the idea of pressing a button to turn. Go figure. Perhaps I should be writing a blog about ereaders. There ain’t nothing here that is new.

  3. I also hate swipe gestures to turn pages. I’m fond of Stanza’s (among others) approach: touch any point of the left half of the page to go to forward; any point of the right half to go backwards.

  4. Huh? The page turn buttons are perfectly placed as far as I’m concerned, although it would be nice to give people the option to change what button does what, so people who want them on the right could do that. In my fondles, I’ve mainly used the page turn buttons and had to remind myself to touch the screen for page turning.

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