Sony officially unveiled their new ereader on Thursday, and according to a report from one of my readers it showed up in Sony stores that same day. I couldn't make time to go get one until Saturday, but I have followed through on my promise to get one and see what changed.
I've known the general details on the T2 since it leaked over a week ago, so I won't repeat them here.
I've now been playing with the T2 since yesterday morning. The new ereader has a matte shell, and Sony replaced the buttons with less obvious (but still physical) buttons. And of course the sound option is gone. But aside from those few details this device is functionally identical to the T1.
That's pretty much what I expected when I got it, but I still have to wonder what the hell Sony was doing for the past year?
Okay, the fact there's only minor differences should really come as no surprise. For the past several years Sony has been in a holding pattern when it comes to their ereaders, and if you look at the record you'll see a stagnation which stretches back to 2009. That was the last time that Sony released a device which could even jokingly be called innovative. Since then they've been picking one change to make each year (while at the same time the competition has been adding several new hardware and software improvements each year).
In 2009, Sony released a trio of ereaders: a budget model with limited abilities, a mid range model with touchscreen but no connectivity, and a high end model with a touchscreen and a 3G connection which could be used to buy ebooks. In 2010, Sony added better touchscreens - but no new connectivity. And then in 2011 Sony released the T1, which effectively replaced all 3 models with one Android based device that had the same features (it does work better admittedly).
And now in 2012 Sony replaced the T1 with new device that is virtually identical. What the hell, Sony?
Do you want to know how little work Sony put into this? The one feature I like about the T2 is the new support for Evernote (you can back up all your notes). But that's a software feature, so there's really nothing stopping Sony from releasing a new update for the the T1 and giving it the new feature as well.
At this point I'm trying to come up with a good reason to suggest that someone buy the T2 over a refurbished T1. I cannot. The devices are so similar that I'd get a T1 simply because it's cheaper. A refurb has the same lifespan as a new unit, and unless the user really wants the matte finish or new software features, there's little reason to spend the extra dough.
P.S. In case you're wondering, the hacks for the T1 don't work yet on the T2. I didn't really expect them to, but it would have been nice to have hacked the T2 so quickly.