We liked the original Sony Reader. Slim, easy to use and offering support for the popular ePUB format, it was a great introduction to the magnificent world of e-readers.
Fast-forward a year and the PRS-650 is here. It still has a 6in screen, but a few internal refinements mean it's faster when it comes to niceties such as flipping the page. It's also still a touchscreen, but it's not as responsive to fingers as we'd like, working better with the stylus. Some applications – such as the drawing app and handwriting app – simply aren't up to scratch. However, the screen has at least become less reflective than the previous version, making it easy to read.
No complaints in use
In use we've no complaints: the screen offers almost exactly the right amount of contrast, and the performance increases mean you soon forget you're staring at an attractive slice of electronica, allowing you to get lost in your novel.
So what about actually buying books? We love the Kindle and its superb, seamless tie-in with Amazon's virtual shelves, but the Reader is a little trickier. It supports the formats used by the likes of WH Smith and Waterstones, and we can't argue with the choice on offer, although books tend to be a little more expensive than the Kindle's.
Review continues after the break...
You do need to tether it to a computer to load new books, though, which brings its own set of problems. For a start, it's a little unwieldy and generally precludes you buying a new book over Wi-Fi in the lobby of a hotel.
Charging is done via the microUSB port, which doubles as a method for transferring ebooks. You can also load it up from the top-mounted memory card slots.
Price far from perfect
And now to the price, the Kindle's strongest point, and something the Reader has to overcome. Sadly its launch price of £200 it doesn't come close, although you may find better deals if you shop around.
You can snag a Wi-Fi-only Kindle, with its access to Amazon's huge and good-value bookstore, for just £109. To get the Reader, which doesn't come with a dedicated store and needs to be tethered to a PC to be of any use at all, Sony is asking for another 90 quid. That sort of money will buy you a lot of books, and so our recommendation is to opt for the Kindle.