By Chris Velazco
These days, it’s getting tough for companies that make eBook readers to differentiate. Brief forays into jumbo models aside, Amazon’s Kindle has kept things simple and elegant since day one, while Barnes and Noble (NYSE:BKS) went the full-featured Android route with the Nook Color.
Sony (NYSE:SNE), to their credit, was among the first to make readers with appeal that extended beyond hardcore techno-literature buffs, and today’s announcement of the ultra-light PRS-T1 shows that they haven’t quite given up the ghost yet.
Sony’s new generation of eReaders seem to have more than a few design cues from the Xperia line of handsets: the T1 features a row of super-slim control buttons and a gently curving bottom edge. It’s a handsome device, something that’s equal parts book reader and fashion accessory. Weighing in at 168g, and 8.9mm thick, it’s ideal for a spot of on-the-go light reading.
Looks aside, the T1 also packs a 6″ diagonal touchscreen display for easy navigation between pages and within menus. Users can also use their fingers or the included stylus to make notes on pages, a feature that would have helped the Kindle quite a bit in its academic trials. The T1 comes with 2 GB of flash memory preinstalled, which stores up to 1,200 eBooks if Sony is to be believed. Digital hoarders will find comfort in the microSD card slot that supports up to 32 GB of their favorite musty tomes.
The device also manages to squeeze in a WiFi radio into its slim frame, allowing for wireless book downloads from Sony’s Reader Store, and interestingly, the ability to wirelessly borrow books from libraries that choose to play along.
Will the T1 do the impossible and overthrow Amazon and BN’s hegemonic hold on the eReader market? In all honestly, probably not, but a functional and stylish alternative can help keep innovation alive and the big guys on their toes.