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2012-12-31My quick review: Sony PRS-T2 reader

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Sony have taken a bit of a kicking for this 2012 device, which competes with Amazon Kindle and other reader product ranges that have added backlights to their displays. Having used a Paperwhite and found that the backlight setting couldn't be completely decreased, as well as feeling like a brick in the hand despite using a plastic case, I have to say that the PRS-T2 doesn't suffer from not including this frill. Being 164g rather than >210g is the difference between being comfortable for one-hand use and not, and only fractionally heavier than the 155g (partly aluminium) PRS-350 pocket reader in return for a 'full size' 6" screen.

The black edition is matte plastic, a better choice than the shiny finish on the other colours and on the previous year's PRS-T1 model, and the navigation buttons likewise aren't so reflective that they become annoying. By default when the reader is in sleep mode it shows the cover of the current book, and a full power-down is available by holding the power button and answering the prompt. As now seems to be standard for e-ink devices, full page refreshes only happen every few pages when the reader thinks it needs it. Fonts can easily be overriden using a choice of half-a-dozen built-in typefaces, and the touch interface is nicely responsive. Battery life is claimed to be two months, and a micro-SD slot is provided, although unlikely some other reader models there's no audio capability... the ability to expand storage may still be useful for dealing with larger documents such as PDFs (and unlike Amazon's current models the handling of zooming and scrolling PDFs makes this a serious proposition rather than something to be avoided.) Some people may not like the touch-screen requiring a light swipe rather than a tap, I suppose.

My main complaint is a minor one about the UI. Whilst Sony have kept (from previous models) page numbers at the foot of the screen when in a book, there's no longer any battery indicator there. I'd like a reminder when I stop reading that a device needs a top-up charge, rather than only getting that reminder at turn-on time. It also seems like replacing the battery would be trickier than with older models (whilst I haven't tried popping the back off, there are no external screws) but by the time it becomes an issue I'm likely to have upgraded to a different device anyway.

Basically, for £100 shipped for a quality touch-screen reader versus the £109 for the Paperwhite (Amazon appear to have discontinued the Touch and Keyboard Kindle models to focus on the basic non-touch model, Paperwhite and its tablets), the only thing you're likely to miss is a crap light.

The reader actually runs Android, and if you're interested there's a video on YouTube of someone running Angry Birds on a PRS-T1 (along with various comparisons between readers probably more useful than my brief notes here.) It's best used with Calibre rather than Sony's software, which can convert pretty much any format, and google for the Apprentice Alf plugins if you need to unlock ebooks purchased from Amazon for use on other devices.


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