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Old 10-02-2008, 07:00 PM   #1
NatCh
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Post The Sony PRS700: the Newest Member of the Sony Reader Family

Sony PRS700 – Meet The PRS505’s “Little” Brother

Yes, this is what all the "October 2nd" fuss has been about!

First Things First:
  • What: Sony PRS700 -- a higher-end model with some fancier features and a sleek new look.
  • When: “End of October/beginning of November.”
  • Where: SonyStyle.com, “more than 40 SonyStyle stores nationwide and at authorized retailers across the country.”
  • How Much: $400.

What about the 505? Sony is saying they’re not replacing the 505, but rather adding a higher-end model to the PRS line. Buyers can go with the 505, or shell out the extra cash if the 700's extras are worth it to them. The 700's specs (what we have of them so far) are pretty close to what the 505’s specs are: same display size, same overall dimensions, same format supports. The differences are mainly in fancier touches.

For example: touch screen control.

The 700 has dispensed with the 0 through 9 buttons in favor of a direct touch screen selection of menu options. It also has text highlighting and annotation, via an on-screen virtual keyboard. That keyboard is also used to support searching within text -- no word yet on whether it will search across texts or not.

Pages can be turned with a finger swipe on the screen -- and the swipe direction is configurable! The 700 will include a stylus for those who have larger fingers, or just hate having fingerprints on the screen. For the old-school types, it still has hardware page change buttons.

Some other nice incidentals include a reportedly much snappier page change speed, bigger page block jumping (i.e. 20 or 30 pages as well as the 10 pages -- the "go to page" feature is still intact, again via the virtual keyboard), but in my view the biggest new feature after the touch screen is easily the built in frontlight.

Let me say that again: Built. In. Frontlight.

Answering the question of how exactly that will play out with the touch screen will have to wait until we get first-hand looks at the device itself, but the picture we have of it already is enough to start me slavering.

Other new features include five font sizes and what seems to be a totally new zoom feature.

There’s still no wireless (they say they’re looking at it for future devices), the battery still isn't user replaceable, and there's no true digital ink capability, it's all handled through virtual keyboard/menu interaction. Sony expects a firmware update at some point in the future to allow exporting text annotations from the device, which could be handy for students. The other noticeable lack is geographic: it's U.S. only for now. The explanation for that had to do with the markedly insular nature of the various Sony divisions (i.e. Sony USA compared to Sony Europe), but I really think they should have worked that out, perhaps they will do so quickly.


But wait! That's not all! Along with this launch, Sony will be launching a new version of their eBook Store. It is supposed to have easier searching and navigation, as well as a "streamlined checkout process." Personally, I'm most hoping they get rid of the frames within frames thing, and make it easier to find things like the wishlist and books already bought. Making purchased books easier to download in bulk would be a nice touch too.


Even as I post this, our pinch-hitter reporter is attending the "Event" and will have first-hand impressions to share with us as soon as he can, so stay tuned!


The press release is here, and the SonyStyle Reader Page should have full specs shortly.


Okay, folks, no shoving now. The line forms right here (yes, yes, that's right: right there behind me ) -- so who's ready to queue up?
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