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Old 09-27-2013, 07:04 AM   #1
MattW
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Why the T3 is an excellent reader

I bought the T3 on a whim. And all the bad things that are being said about it are obviously true: it's basically last year's e-reader that costs too much. And if the no-front light thing is a deal-breaker for you, nothing I will say will change your mind.

But I think there's an argument that can be made why the Sony PRS-T3 is a truly great e-reader. And it goes something like this: to a lot of people (not the majority here on Mobileread, of course), e-readers are a consumer product like DVD players or cheap compact cameras with the difference being that they're used to read ebooks. If we step back from the "new features every year" mentality that plagues smartphones, tablets and PCs, and look at how well the T3 does at its core functionality, we have to admit that it does a pretty amazing job.

Its software is stable, (almost) bug-free and does not intrude on the reading experience at all; the screen is as crisp as it ever was (while higher definition might sound good, it wouldn't really improve your reading experience), you can buy your books from various sources, you can access library books and you can even buy books on the device itself. Granted, nothing that the T2 didn't do as well, but this year's model is even smaller while leaving the screen size intact and has an integrated cover to boot.

Now, the light issue I can understand to some extent, although it's not that important to me personally. While I enjoy my Paperwhite, to me, my Sony readers have always felt more like a book. The Kindle is always a gadget, its glowing screen is a constant reminder that it's just that; with a pure eInk display I find that I often forget if I've read a book a pbook or as an ebook. This never happens to me on the Kindle Paperwhite.

So if you, like most people here, look at the T3 from a feature and technology-perspective, it's not much of a step forward. If you look at it from a "reading books" perspective, it's as unobstrusive and simple as can be; it's designed as lightweight and user-friendly as one could hope for -- (p)books themselves haven't changed that much in the last decades or even centuries.

To me, the perfect e-reader would be one that's like a piece of paper (with a cover), combining all that's good about pbooks (readability) with the storage and ease of use of ebooks. In that sense, I find that I enjoy reading on my T3 (or T2) more than on the Kindle Paperwhite (or the Cybook HD I bought my mom for last Christmas), because they come closer to that ideal.

Now, I agree that it's too expensive and that there's no need to upgrade from a T2. All I'm saying is that I believe that Sony are actually doing something right here (if you ask me, even by omitting the front-light) and it's a shame that their design philosophy is giving way to a market that basically wants tablets.

Matt

Last edited by MattW; 10-01-2013 at 03:47 PM. Reason: 2 minor typos corrected, no other changes
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:35 AM   #2
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Good review--don't feel so bad that I cannot buy one because I live in the US and Sony refuses to sell the T3 to us.
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:40 AM   #3
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Glad to hear that you're enjoying your reader but I have to disagree with your premise that Sony has some kind of advantage by keeping things simple. My Kobo Aura HD isn't any more of a gadget than a Sony reader is and a lot of its added abilities actually enhance the reading experience rather than detract from it. I'm especially looking forward to using Pocket on my ereader. If going nowhere was a superior experience then we'd all still be travelling around in horse and buggy.
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Old 09-27-2013, 08:14 AM   #4
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The T3 is nice. I'd say it's the nicest-looking e-reader on the market with the best integrated case design. Shame about the front-light. Sony chose not to listen to the market.
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Old 09-27-2013, 08:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Canuck_in_Japan View Post
Glad to hear that you're enjoying your reader but I have to disagree with your premise that Sony has some kind of advantage by keeping things simple. My Kobo Aura HD isn't any more of a gadget than a Sony reader is and a lot of its added abilities actually enhance the reading experience rather than detract from it. I'm especially looking forward to using Pocket on my ereader. If going nowhere was a superior experience then we'd all still be travelling around in horse and buggy.
It may well be that the Kobo Aura HD is as good or better as a reading device than the T3. My own limited experience with Kobo has been terrible to the point that someone would have to pay me to use one of their devices again, but maybe they've fixed the firmware issues and made progress on the usability front. What do I know? At this point, I personally don't care and therefore refrain from judgement. If the Kobo Aura HD makes you happy, congratulations!

My point is neither that the T3 is the best device out there nor that any progress is bad (as you insinuate), but rather that the T3 is a great e-reader (if it's a simple, "non-gadgety", lightweight and working e-reader you want) and that progress for progress' sake isn't the answer to everything.

While I'd like to see screens improve (a lot), I'm not sure exactly why I need a front-light with an eInk-device (thereby negating the one major advantage eInk has over LCD). But clearly, most of Mobileread thinks otherwise, and that's perfectly fine. I know that. There are a lot of tech-savvy people here that care deeply about processor speeds, root-ability and all sorts of specs and clearly a lot of people want a front-lit e-reader. Luckily enough, they have a lot of choice.

I wanted to point out, however, that simply holding the T3 and the bulky Kindle Paperwhite, I can't help but feeling that one is clearly an electronic device and one is as close to a book as possible. And when I'm reading in daylight, the T3 is the better choice (for me) by a wide margin.

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Old 09-27-2013, 10:04 AM   #6
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I think the Sony PRS T3 is a great Reader if you're looking for an elegant solution with a case. I've always been using my Sony Reader with a case, so this is nothing new to me. Some people prefer a case so that the Reader looks and feels more like a book.

Sony is a bit conservative now with their development policy, that is right. But as you point out, paper books don't change a lot, too. And in general, the Sony Reader software works good. The Sony Reader is expensive now, that is right, too. But for me, a Reader is not a toy, I'd like to use the deveice in 10 or 15 years.

The market for Reader and Ebooks is getting smaller right now. In 2013, publishers of Ebooks and manufacturers of Portable Reader Deveices are both selling less than in 2012. Some bookstores that I've been visiting in the past days already removed Readers from their store. There has been a small boost on this market in 2012, but for now, we're over the inflection point.

Sony is very good and popular for using a Digital Library System or for working with scientific PDF books. I think if someone is looking for a mass market deveice and some entertainment, a product from Amazon would be better. And if someone wants both, you can get both.

You can use anything to look up the time. There are watches everywhere. But when you buy a wristwatch, you usually take something that works really reliable, something has a good build quality, and something that lasts longer than a year. And that's what Sony does. And that's the reason why I think the T3 is worth the 190 Euros the deveice with lighted cover costs right now. Although I'm hoping the T3 will get cheaper in the coming months.
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Old 09-27-2013, 11:44 AM   #7
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The new Kobo Aura seems to be experience issues with the lighted screen. The old PW did and it'll be interesting watching to see if the PW2 has similar problems.

It does seem that no one has yet made the perfect lighted-screen. I am not ready to get one. Sony made the first lighted-screens and dumped the idea. Maybe they concluded the current tech can't do it flawlessly.
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Old 09-27-2013, 12:04 PM   #8
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You know, when you take a train at night, 60% of the people will sit there with some backlit mobile phone and type some boring stuff, and the rest is doing nothing.

But sitting in a train with a Sony Reader with this lamp gives you some sort of James Bond feeling there. I can definitely recommend this.
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Old 09-27-2013, 12:12 PM   #9
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I think that I must agree with MattW about the elegance of simplicity. I don't own a front-lit ebook reader yet (might get Aura if it's firmware is stable) and could not get the Sony T3 (because I live in the US).

But out of the three new readers this year, PW2, Aura and T3, I am inclined toward the T3. Why? I want a stable light weight reader. My wrist starts to hurt even with the Prs 650 & its stock cover (which is light). The lightweight T3 seems to fit the need. The Aura seems to be great too if not that Kobo is infamous for buggy firmware and as busy as I am with my baby, the last thing I need is a buggy unstable firmware (if they fix the bugs in the Aura, I might jump on the bandwagon too). The PW2 is out of questions because I don't really want to convert all my thousands of ebooks to mobi, only to convert them back some years later when I move back to an EPUB reader.

And call me a Neanderthal, but in my experience with the touchscreen smart phones, I hate them so much that I am moving back to the most basic brick phone, i.e. the Nokia with a small color screen & BUTTONS. It's small, stable, comfortable and does just what I need which is to make a call and send/receive some text. It doesn't crash on me and I do not miss call because of the sluggish touch screen.. Sigh!!
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:29 PM   #10
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Thanks for your long review, MattW. I am glad that the software works simply fine - it gives me hope for the (eventual) Sony Mobius which I am very interested in.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:34 AM   #11
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For me, T2 is a great reader because it is rooted and has AMR installed, so I can use Cool Reader and GoldenDict with it, and the book indexing is disabled.
So far it seems that there is no chance of this happening to T3, so therefore there is equally no chance of me buying it.

As to Aura HD - now it already has those two advantages of T2 - on Aura HD now we are using Cool Reader and also Kobo book indexing can be avoided.
The main disadvantage - so far there is no dictionary integration into Cool Reader.
There is also the screen size issue. With Aura's 6.8" screen, landscape orientation is not needed - I can have 7mm margin + 88 mm text + 7 mm margin.
7 mm margin is large enough for comfortable reading (I hate small margins).
88 mm text width is typical for mass market paperbacks - measure a few, you will see.
So Aura gives a real book impression.
With 6" screen, I cannot get 88 mm text with comfortable enough margins so I am always using landscape.
Turns out, landscape gives one big advantage: it is much more comfortable to hold the reader in your hand: you can turn the cover all the way back and the reader just hangs on your fingers and you don't have to squeeze it so it does not slip from your hand.
It just hangs on the finger(s) of a fully relaxed hand.
With Aura's portrait orientation I would need a cover which opens on top for that, so holding it in my hand is not as comfortable. There is always an increased danger of dropping it. Besides it is heavier, naturally.

As to the built-in front-light, Kobo Aura has a huge advantage over PaperWhite because it has the OFF button. So I never ever switch that light on. If I ever need a light, I clip on Ozeri Kandle Flex - when illuminated by it, the screen still looks like a page of a book, not like an LCD screen with the internal Aura's light.
And PaperWhite is glowing even on the minimum setting. Glowing e-ink, what an oxymoron! As I say - a class action suit waiting to happen.

Last edited by parkher; 09-28-2013 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 09-28-2013, 09:45 AM   #12
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BUT, are any of these ereaders as good as the PRS 950?

I hope my 950 never dies.
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Old 09-28-2013, 10:11 AM   #13
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I don't know if this presentation is known already.



There are some other videos by Sony Europe on YouTube, each European market has an own presentation of the Sony PRS-T3 in it's own language: English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, and more, I guess.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:02 PM   #14
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BUT, are any of these ereaders as good as the PRS 950?

I hope my 950 never dies.
I am not familiar with 950 but I love my "improved" T2 - I got 3 of them and the 4th for my sister. So I have a backup and a backup to the backup and then I will take back the one I gave to my sister, even if she cries
I am using them all in order to keep their batteries alive...
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:05 PM   #15
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I was made aware of some pictures showing much whiter screen of T2 compared to the new T3. Supposedly from here somewhere on mobileread?

http://rghost.ru/49018188/image.png
http://plasmon.rghost.ru/49018189/image.png

It is pretty shocking, to say the least.
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