Two popular options are the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. This head-to-head comparison will help you figure out which is worth your money – Kindle vs Sony Reader.
Design and Ergonomics
Sony’s Readers tend to have a flashier exterior, with rounded corners and a semi-gloss finish that’s available in bright colors, such as red and pink. The blockier Kindles have matte finishes that are only available in basic colors like graphite (dark gray) and white. Although the Kindles look cool in their own way, Sony’s Reader has better aesthetics.
Another difference is the keyboard that’s included on the Kindle. This is used to help navigate the device and search for titles both on the Amazon store and in your Kindle library. Sony’s Reader, on the other hand, offers a touch screen interface on all of its current generation Reader products. This is an important point that buyers should consider. Some will likely prefer the tactile feel of the Kindle’s buttons, but others will prefer the more compact size made available by the Reader’s touchscreen.
Sony’s Reader comes in a wider variety of sizes, and is generally lighter than the Kindle. The Pocket Edition is just 5.5 ounces, the Touch Edition is 7.5 ounces, and the Daily Edition is 9.6 ounces. The latest generation Kindle is 8.5 ounces, while the Kindle DX is a whopping 18.9 ounces. Although these differences may seem small at times, they’re noticeable. Remember, this is a device you may be holding for hours – every ounce saved counts.
Amazon’s Kindle has a robust feature set, particularly when it comes to connectivity. Even the most basic Kindle comes with WiFi, while the Kindle 3G has “free” 3G service (the cost of delivering the content is included in the price). This means that you’ll be able to easily purchase new books while on the go, or re-download books that you already purchased but have since discarded.
Sony only offers WiFi and free 3G with its Daily Edition, which is the most expensive model. This is a serious downside for a gadget that’s supposed to replace books, as it means fooling around with yet another cable and yet more syncing software.
The Kindle offers superior built-in memory, at four gigabytes. The Sony Readers offer half that, but some have superior support for memory upgrades. The Daily Edition, for example, can support Memory Stick Duo and SD Cards up to 32GB.
Battery life is great on both devices, although generally better on the Kindle, which can last for over a month if the WiFi is off. With that said however, even the Sony Readers can generally be used for weeks between charges.
Software & Format Support
While both Sony and Amazon offer stores for their particular eReaders, Amazon’s is unsurprisingly the better option. The selection available on Amazon.com is unrivaled, and the store is extremely easy to navigate. There’s also a wealth of consumer reviews available on various books, making it easier to find what’s great and avoid what’s not.
Both the Kindle and the Sony Reader offer support for PDF files, but Amazon still doesn’t offer support for ePub. Since most libraries that are adopting eBook loans are doing so by offering books in ePub format, this is a glaring gap in Amazon’s file support.
As you can see, there’s a lot of trade-offs between these two devices. Sony’s Readers are lighter and have touchscreen support, but they have worst connectivity. And while Amazon offers a better store, it has inferior format support.
However, my opinion swings in the favor of the Kindle because of price. The base Kindle is available for $139.99, while the Reader Pocket Edition often sells between $160 and $180. Since the pocket edition has a smaller display and lacks any wireless connectivity, that’s a nasty price gap. It’s worse with the Touch Edition, which sells for $230.
It’s hard to justify spending more than $200 on an eReader when a tablet like the iPad 2 can be had for $499. Still, Sony’s Pocket Edition has a lot of appeal, as it’s incredibly small and light. That makes it a superb eReader for travelers – so long as you have a laptop from which you can download content.