Sony showed us last night just how much their e-readers are lagging behind

Sony launched their latest ereaders last fall. It took a couple months, but I eventually got a chance to review them and I was amazed by some of the features. But I also decided, after playing with them for a couple weeks, that Sony had missed the boat. Those ereaders should have shipped with Wifi.

Time has proven me right on this one.

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write since Kobo and B&N unveiled their latest ereaders.  But it wasn’t until I was working on a post for eBookNewser about the new PlayStation Vita that I realized quite how bad the lag really is. The new PlayStation Vita is basically a 5″ tablet. It has impressive specs compared to anything on the market. Take off the buttons and joysticks and you’d have a tablet that would make even some NookColor owners jealous.

2 weeks ago Kobo and B&N undercut one of Sony’s last remaining strengths. The new Nook Touch and Kobo Touch are both beautiful designs with the newest screen and what’s worse is that  they have the same touchscreen as the Sony Readers. At that point, Wifi almost didn’t matter. It was just the cherry on top.

But that’s not the worst. if I worked in the Sony Reader division, I would be embarrassed after last night.  Sony aren’t just lagging after other ereader makers; they’re lagging after themselves.  The PSP keeps adding features with each new model, while the Sony Reader plateaued in 2009.

On the other hand, think about this. Sony’s designs may have plateaued in 2009, but they’re still selling, aren’t they?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Pei7 June, 2011

    I agree up to a point. I have had all three Kindles, both nooks (sold them all), and I still prefer my prs-350, mostly due to the fact that I can take notes, hightlights, etc. and publish them to a document which can be printed and/or saved for future reference. I know the reader software is a bit wonky and the more notes and hightlights, the wonkier it gets, but no other reader has that feature, and I don’t miss the wifi.

  2. Mike Cane7 June, 2011

    >>>Sony’s designs may have plateaued in 2009, but they’re still selling, aren’t they?

    Are they? J&R no longer lists 950 and 650s have been marked Sold Out for weeks. And who carries them? Target & Best Buy dropped them. Whatever is selling is probably the last of stock, with no successors in sight — nor do I think are any planned. This is the year Sony kills the Reader. I’d rather get a fugly Nook Touch when it can be rooted. Unless Amazon announces the touchy K4 before then.

  3. jorgen7 June, 2011

    Maybe, but my Sony PRS-650 is just a lovely ebook reader and I would buy it again not bothering to look at any other reader. Personally, I have never missed WiFi on the Sony (or my BeBook Mini) as I will always fetch books on my PC. Yes, WiFi would probably be nice to impress the waitress in the coffee bar if one is so inclined, but … And, yes, I have fetched books on my iPod just for the fun of it.

    1. Sweetpea8 June, 2011

      Exactly my thought. Wifi is fun, once, and then I’d probably not look at it anymore.

      Also, in mainland Europe, there is no Nook and Kindle only has a few (non-English) languages available. So, Sony is still the best buy here.

  4. Alexander Inglis7 June, 2011

    I agree with the point that Sony is NOT selling its ereaders like mad. In Canada, the Sony Store is one of the few places left where you can buy them (them generally being the PRS-350; the 650 is usually out of stock and the 950 was never sold here). Sony invested in auto-attendant displays in Best Buy / Future Shop but they appear to be running on existing stock.

    Sony appeared at Word on the Street with eleborate tents and sales activities each summer for three years but never seemed to execute in retail or ebookstore support. It really has been treading water since 2009 with last year’s update to Pearl and better touch technology welcome product enhancements but then left dangling by the marketing team.

    1. Chris7 June, 2011

      I agree. It seems as though their ereader division simply does not get the attention the majority of their other lines do. Hopefully this will change, as I like their Readers. If not, I’m sure the market will come along with a new ereader that I’d want to switch to.

  5. Chris7 June, 2011

    Perhaps, but the B&N and Kobo gaming systems… oh wait. Sony is a much more diversified company that either B&N or Kobo are. You’re stacking their new gaming system together with two new ereaders (who are using the months old screen Sony has been using since last Fall) and declaring Sony has plateaued. Your apple and orange baskets have collided. Sony has released a new addition to their gaming system line. Until I see conclusive evidence to the contrary, I’m going to continue my wait-and-see approach to the stagnation (or demise) of their Reader line.

    As for this oft-kvetched about wireless issue. The Sony is an ereader that has, quite frankly, excelled at that role as compared to the rest of the pack until quite recently. Okay, depending on the model it also has a music player. That’s about it. It’s not a web browser (Really? An e-ink web browser? Excuse while I dust off my old lunchbox PC), it’s not an email device, it’s not something with which to pester/be pestered by your social network. While the Daily Edition has 3g, you can only use it to buy ebooks and receive periodicals from the Sony store. I used it a few times on my 900, but as I get ebooks from numerous sources it became a non-issue in a hurry.

    If you treat an ereader like a pbook, where you put the last book down in order to pick up the new one instead of an iPod for books, or an iPad-like creature, then yes, the lack of wireless is an issue. If you don’t, it’s not.

    Would I like to have wireless? Sure, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me. I’m not totally familiar with the details of Amazon’s great 1984 snatchback. Did the wireless connectivity help them?

  6. Tyler8 June, 2011

    All Sony’s are being closed out in the US as we speak. So a new line is around the corner. So Sony was way ahead of the curve when it comes to pearl e ink display and touchscreens.

    1. Chris8 June, 2011

      Yeah, that’s usually the sign of the new versions being around the corner.

      1. Nate Hoffelder8 June, 2011

        But Sony are also disappearing from retail stores. That’s not a sign of new models coming.

        1. Chris8 June, 2011

          True. It could mean they’ve bitten the dust. It could also mean a reshuffling of how they’re planning on handling things. When I *cough* donated my PRS-900 to whomever it was in my seat on the next flight, I had a heck of a time tracking down a replacement. This was about the time news had dropped that the *50’s were coming out.

          1. Tyler8 June, 2011

            Same thing happened last year around this time with the Sony’s before the new line was introduced. Sony could be getting out of the ereader biz or they may be adding it to their two new android tablets. I think that there will be another line coming out.

  7. Muson8 June, 2011

    I ordered PRS-650 in March (in Germany), I waited a month!!! Love it. If you order today, you will wait at least a month…

    1. jorgen9 June, 2011

      Not necessarily: the Sony shop in Gandia in East-Spain still has a few 650ies in silver.

      (Disclaimer: I am just one of their customers)

      1. Tyler9 June, 2011

        They are available in a few Border’s stores around me but they are closed out.

  8. Andreas7 September, 2012

    @ Nate Hoffelder

    You said “Time has proven me right on this one.” and it certainly has.

    Now, one year later, Sony is again missing the boat with their PRS-T1 and T2 readers.
    I am a very happy Sony PRS950 user and have been waiting for a new Sony reader all the time, but I have decided to give up on Sony. They just don’t get what enthusiast/’pro’ e-reader users want.

    Sony had a great aluminum design, but they replaced it with cheap glossy plastic.
    They had an internal storage silo for their Stylus, but they removed it.
    They had a headphone jack, but removed it.
    They did not upgrade their internal storage.
    They did not upgrade their processor.
    They did not ad glow lite or whatever it is called.
    They did not improve the resolution of their e-reader screens

    Other brands did all this and their readers are 30 to 50 bucks cheaper than Sony’s readers.

    Sony’s readers do feature a rich selection of dictionaries, which is very important to me.
    Also their reader software is very good.
    But they just can not keep up with the competitors.
    They offer too little for too much.
    I would love to buy a new Sony reader. I tend to be quite loyal to a brand, but they removed several features I liked (aluminium case, internal stylus, headphone jack) and omitted to add modern features their competitors, like Kobo, did ad for a lower price.


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