Sony PRS-650 Touch Edition eBook Reader Review

We use affiliate links. If you buy something through the links on this page, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

sony prs 650 review 28It’s September, and that means updated readers from Sony!  I’ve been a devoted fan of the PRS readers since 2006 – first the PRS-500, then PRS-505, and the PRS-600 last year.  I’ve loved my Sonys and spent thousands of hours reading on them over the years.  Unfortunately, the PRS-600, while beautiful, eventually fell out of favor with me.  The touchscreen layer made the reader reflective and glare-y, and it also made the text on the screen lighter and a bit harder to read than on the previous PRS-505.  I admit that I eventually began reading exclusively on my iPad.  The iPad screen was beautiful and it never caused eyestrain for me, but all its other fabulous functions seemed to tempt me away from reading.  I haven’t been reading much at all for the past few weeks.   When the new Sony readers were announced, I was excited to hear the old resistive touchscreen layer had been replaced with a new method – neither capacitive nor resistive.  Hoping that the PRS-650 Touch Edition Reader would be a return to the sharp, clear screens I had loved in the past, I decided I’d give the new version of the Touch Edition a try.  I placed my order and waited – and waited when the original ship date passed.  Eventually I got my reader.  Was it worth the wait?

Some of the pictures in this review are clickable for a larger view.

Hardware specifications

  • Size in inches : 6.625 x 4.75 x .4
  • Weight  : 7.58  oz
  • Screen: E-Ink Pearl 6 inch (diagonal) display with 16-level gray scale and a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels
  • Memory Size: 2 GB.  User available capacity: Approximately 1.4 GB
  • Dual memory card expansion slots for Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD card up to  32 GB
  • Media formats supported : ePub (Adobe DRM protected), PDF (Adobe DRM protected), BBeB Book (PRS DRM protected), ePub, BBeB Book, PDF, TXT, RTF, Microsoft Word (conversion to the Reader requires Word installed on your PC), JPEG, PNG, GIF (only 1st screen of animated gif will display), BMP, MP3 (non-encrypted), AAC (non-encrypted)
  • Connectivity : micro-USB for file transfer from PC
  • Power : charge  with micro-USB cable (supplied) or optional AC adapter
  • Battery: Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery: 3.7V DC, 940mA;  battery life is approximately 14 days;  recharging time 3 hours with USB, or about 2 hours with the optional AC adapter (PRSA-AC1)
  • System requirements: Microsoft Windows 7 (32/64 bit), Vista (32/64 bit), and XP, and Apple Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later (32 bit only)

sony prs 650 review 4

What’s in the Box?

  • Reader
  • Micro-USB cable for charging and synching the device
  • Quick start guide
sony prs 650 review 1
(left to right) PRS-500, PRS-505, PRS-600, PRS-650. Click to enlarge

You can see my collection of Sony readers in this picture.  You can also see I have a thing for red.  In this picture, it’s a little hard to tell exactly how the three reds of the last three models compare.  No matter what I did, it was impossible to get a picture that showed exactly what my eye sees.  When you see the pictures comparing the text on the 505 to the 650 and the 600 to the 650 later in this review, you can see a somewhat better comparison – but I still couldn’t get an exact color rendition.  I’ll try to describe what I see.  The 505 reader seems to have an orangey cast to it.  The 600 reader is a bluer color, and it almost seems to be matte.  The 650 reader also has a bluish cast, and it is lighter and shinier than the 600.  I’ve tried and tried to come up with a color name for the 650.  It’s definitely a red – not pink – but in some light it appears to be a raspberry color.  There – that should be all you need to know about the color. 😉

There’s no installation CD in the box.  Apparently, the internal memory has an installation partition with the software setup program like the PRS-600.  I already had the latest version of the Sony Library software installed in anticipation of receiving my new reader.  I simply connected my new PRS-650 with the new micro-USB cable, waited for the driver to install, and I was ready to load up my reader with books.  I had a ton of space to load up, too.  The PRS-600 had around 380MB of user-accessible internal memory, but the PRS-650 has about 1.45GB of space available to me.  I’ve never felt the need to use memory cards with my readers in the past, and I certainly won’t need them now.  I could load up all my books (about 550 or so) and still have plenty of room to spare.  Sony says you can store up to 1200 books in internal memory.

You can use memory cards to add books to the Sony reader, or you can load them up with music for the internal audio player application.  I never have used the audio player on my reader – I don’t want to waste the battery when I have an iPod for music.  Sony warns that using the music player drains the battery faster, and simply having the memory cards in the reader can drain the battery faster.  I’ll save my battery for reading, thanks.

Sony no longer uses the same sync and charging cables that it has used since the PRS-500.  The old mini-USB cable has been replaced by a micro-USB cable.  There is no separate AC adapter jack any longer, so you can’t use your old Sony reader (or PSP) charger.  Instead, you can charge your reader in about 3 hours using a USB port on your computer.  You can also buy a $30 AC-to-micro-USB charger from Sony.  I found that I can use the micro-USB charger with my Charge4All charging system quite successfully to charge my reader.  Some people on MobileRead have reported using cellphone chargers with their readers.  You can charge your reader in only 2 hours with the AC adapter.  You can also read while charging with the AC adapter.  You can’t read while charging with a USB port because your reader always goes into sync mode when connected to the computer.

I complained last year in my PRS-600 Touch Edition review that Sony had cheapened out by supplying only a neoprene sleeve instead of a proper cover.  They are apparently feeling the pinch of the ereader price wars, because they didn’t supply any case or cover with the PRS-650.  Since I was used to using the iPad practically naked (in a Belkin Grip Vue only), I thought I’d try using the PRS-650 without a book-style cover and just store it in the neoprene sleeve I’d scorned last year.  That experiment is over, and I have a standard Sony case on the way to me now.  Hopefully M-Edge will soon have some cases and an e-Luminator2 light available for the PRS-650.

Speaking of the price wars – many people were shocked to hear that Sony was offering their newest Touch reader at $229.99 – only $70 less than the PRS-600 Touch Reader last year and much more than the new prices announced for nook and Kindle readers.  Some were shocked that the Touch doesn’t have 3G, Wi-Fi or any method of shopping for or loading up books without tethering to your computer.  Sony announced that they would not be vying for the lowest price; they would be competing on quality.  I haven’t seen a lot of other readers to compare, but I can say Sony has always built quality readers.

sony prs 650 review 30
Rubbery backing changes the color of the aluminum back

The PRS-650 reader seems to be built of aluminum, just like all its predecessors.  The back of the reader still has that rubberized coating, like last year’s reader.  The PRS-650 passed Julie’s Patented Gadgeteer Creak Test with flying colors.  As you will have noticed from the pictures, I got the red one.  It’s also offered in black in the US.  The colors offered vary depending on the country where you live. There’s a shiny “chrome” strip on the top, bottom, and right side of the reader.  I think it is actually a plated plastic instead of metal.  The reader is smaller and lighter than the PRS-600.  (It’s small enough that you can’t use any of the older cases with the Sony connectors with the reader.) 

Another way that Sony competes is by giving you more choices for obtaining books for your reader.  Sony supports both industry-standard formats – ePub and PDF.  You can buy books from the Sony bookstore, but you aren’t limited to it.  I buy almost exclusively from the Sony bookstore, but I’ve bought ePub books at other bookstores that worked perfectly with my Sony readers.  You can of course use public domain books, like those at Google Books and Project Gutenberg.  And something that most other readers don’t allow, you can even check out books from public libraries.

Cover attachment point, Status light, Power Slider, Card slots, Top of Stylus
Cover attachment point, Status light, Power Slider, Card slots, Top of Stylus
sony prs 650 review 25
Stylus partially in its silo

The top of the reader has a small light to show charging status, a power/standby slider, and expansion slots for Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD cards up to 32 GB each.  There’s also a stylus that you can remove from the far right side.

sony prs 650 review 24
Cover attachment point, Recessed Reset Button, Micro-USB port, Headphone Jack, Volume Rocker

The bottom of the reader has a recessed reset button, micro-USB charging/sync port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a volume rocker.

sony prs 650 review 23
Page back, Page forward, Home menu, Font/Page size, Options

On the face, the PRS-650 looks very much like the PRS-600.  There are five buttons along the bottom of the screen that are labeled the same on both readers, but the buttons on my red PRS-650 are a red metallic color.  In some light, the buttons appear to match the color of the body.  In other light, the buttons appear to be darker and bluer than the body.  It’s hard to see in the pictures, but the bezel around the screen is slightly deeper than on older Sony readers to allow for the IR grid that makes up the touchscreen. 

Comparing colors and screen sharpness on the PRS-505 and PRS-650
Comparing colors and screen sharpness on the PRS-505 and PRS-650
sony prs 650 review 3
Comparing colors and screen sharpness on the PRS-600 and PRS-650

The screen on the PRS-650 is a beauty.  The shiny, reflective, hazy, resistive touchscreen used on the PRS-600 is gone. In its place is an IR touchscreen that introduces no glare and no reflectivity.  The IR touchscreen is amazingly sensitive and responsive.  With the resistive screen on the 600, I had to use a heavy touch to get a response.  I had to use the side of my finger or my fingernail to get a firm touch on the 600, and I’d still sometimes have to try more than once to get a response.  The IR touchscreen is as responsive as the capacitive screen on my iPad.  I can even use the pad of my finger to successfully operate the screen.  The very lightest touch is able to flip a page or make a selection.  Best of all, IR energy is invisible to the human eye.  It seems that you are looking at the bare E-Ink screen, just like in the PRS-505 reader.  With no touchscreen in the way, the text and images on the PRS-650 are sharp and clear – better than on the PRS-600 and even the PRS-505, which some Sony fans say is a perfect ebook reader.

It’s not just the invisible touchscreen that improves the images.  The PRS-650 has the new E-Ink Pearl screen.  I don’t really notice that the background on the Pearl is a lot whiter or brighter than on the old Vizplex screens, but the contrast between the text and the background is greater.  This makes the text seem sharper and darker and more readable to me.  The E-Ink Pearl screen is still 800X600, like the Vizplex screens, but it has 16-bit grayscale.  This makes things sharper, too.  This is especially noticeable when you look at images on the screen.

sony prs 650 review 5
Home screen with navigation tabs at the bottom

Sony has updated the user interface a bit to make it easier to navigate.  The home screen now has tabs along the bottom so you can quickly move between books, other applications like notes and audio, and settings.

sony prs 650 review 6
Applications screen

You can use the PRS-650 as an image viewer.  The pictures are sharp and clear, but I still don’t think grayscale is the best way to view my images.  I did load up a picture of myself to which I added my name and phone number.  If I ever lose it, hopefully an honest person will find it and use that information to contact me and verify I’m the owner when I come to collect it.

sony prs 650 review 7
Some of the images available on the reader

Sony has adopted standby-screen images like those used by Kindle and nook. (See first picture.)  I did load up some book covers to use as standby-screen images.  You can use a setup option to select the pictures you want to use for your standby images, and you can choose to have a message also shown telling people how to turn the reader back on, or you can turn off standby images.  It seems that a lot of the book covers I found appear dark, but simple, high-contrast images look very nice.  You don’t have to worry that the standby images will drain your battery faster.  E-Ink screens only use power while they are being drawn (more on that later).  The image will stay on the screen until you wake the reader.

sony prs 650 review 8
List of hand-written notes
sony prs 650 review 9
Viewing a hand-written note
sony prs 650 review 13
List of text messages
sony prs 650 review 14
Entering a text message

There’s an application that lets you make notes in the Sony PRS-650.  You can enter handwritten notes using your finger or the included stylus or use the on-screen keyboard to enter text notes.  You can enter “stand-alone” notes or you can enter notes within books.  From the “applications” screen, you can view, edit, or make new stand-alone handwritten or text notes.  I found that handwritten notes are a bit more legible if I write big, and it works better if I don’t go too fast.  I wouldn’t want to use this to write a novel, but it works well for jotting down a phone number or a quick note to yourself.

sony prs 650 review 15
List of albums
sony prs 650 review 16
Playing a song

I’ve already mentioned the audio application.  The audio player has been in every Sony reader I’ve owned, but I finally tried it out for the first time with the PRS-650.  Playback sounds fine, but I’m just not interested in using it.  It’s not very sophisticated, and I don’t believe it will remember where you left off, so it won’t be useful for audiobooks.

sony prs 650 review 10
Stand-alone dictionary application
sony prs 650 review 11
Looking up a word
sony prs 650 review 12
Page in the dictionary

The final application is the dictionary.  The PRS-600 had a dictionary, but you could have only one and you accessed it from within a book.   When you set up your PRS-650, you choose which dictionary you want as your main source.  I chose the New Oxford American Dictionary for American-flavored English.  There’s also the Oxford Dictionary of English (for those in the UK), and there are several translating dictionaries.  You can choose Oxford-Hachette French/English, Collins German/English, Oxford Spanish/English, Collins English/Italian, and the Van Dale Pocketwoordenboek Engels-Nederlands translating dictionaries.  You can easily change your main dictionary at any time with a simple settings change.  You can access the dictionary application without having to be in a book now.  Just enter a word using the on-screen keyboard in the dictionary application, select the entry of interest, and then you can page through the dictionary or look up other words.

sony prs 650 review 18
Setup Options
sony prs 650 review 19
Turning on Standby Screen images

Setup options let you change things like menu language, dictionary, enter date and time and change the format for their display, choose keyboard layout, rotate screen orientation from portrait to landscape, or choose the gesture for changing the page.  You can also initialize your reader or do a power-down.  (Powering down is more quickly done by sliding the power slider and holding it until a message appears asking if you want to power off the device.)

sony prs 650 review 20
Sorted list of books

And now books and reading – the reason we’re here.  From the home screen, you can quickly choose to open the book you last read.  Tap the cover picture of the last-read book and you’ll jump to the page where you stopped.  You navigate through the book using a finger-swipe to turn the page or by using the page-back and page-forward buttons on the bottom left of the screen.  You can also tap the status bar at the bottom of the screen to enter the desired page number or to access a slider bar to quickly move through the book.

I haven’t been able to find any official documentation telling what processor the PRS-650 uses, but I can tell it is fast.  The books open with a bit of a lag, but it’s still faster than on the PRS-600 and much faster than on the PRS-505.  Page turns are fast.  There’s still the blink (quick negative image of the current page before the new page is displayed) that many people find irritating, but it happens so quickly on the 650 that it’s easy to ignore.  The increased speed of the processor is most evident to me when loading books onto the reader.  With my older readers, a set of spinning arrows would appear on-screen after loading up books and disconnecting from the computer.  Even with the 600, it would take many seconds – sometimes minutes – for the loading process to complete and the arrows to disappear.  With the 505, you could plan to take a nap after loading up a lot of books.  With the 650, the loading process was completed and my reader ready for use in less than five seconds after loading up 163 books in one step.  I was so surprised that I had to check to be sure the books were really on there before I could believe what had just happened.

Books are segregated and grouped by various criteria.  If you select to view all your books, you can sort them by date (added to the reader), title, author, file name, or by latest read.  Books that have been added to your reader but not read are indicated with a little circle with “new” in the middle.  Books are displayed with a thumbnail of their cover with their title and the date they were added, or by a list of title and author, or by a list of title only.  There’s a scroll bar along the right side of the screen so you can flip through your library to find the book you want.  Once you’ve found the book, touch the thumbnail or list entry to open it.

sony prs 650 review 22

sony prs 650 review 21
Options for maintaining collections

You can also choose to view your books by collections.  Three collections are created by the reader itself – unread books, unread periodicals (purchased through the Sony bookstore), and purchased books.  Collections are similar to playlists in iTunes and iPods.  They are virtual collections – a single copy of the book can appear in multiple collections.  Previously, you had to create collections and add books to them using the Sony library software on your computer.  Now, you can create collections and maintain them directly on your reader.  Collections can also be created by editing the metadata for your book files before loading them on the reader.  You’ll automatically see collections created by the tags in the metadata and populated by the books having those tags.  Collections are displayed alphabetically, and you use the scroll bar on the right of the screen to page through them.  Once you select a collection, you’ll see a list of the books that can then be sorted by all the criteria mentioned above for viewing your entire collection of books.

sony prs 650 review 34
Font sizing, Page Mode setup, and Zoom

One thing ebooks offer that paper books can’t is changeable fonts.  You can easily change the size of the font by pressing the button marked with a magnifying glass at the bottom right of the screen.  There are six font sizes available – XS through XXL.  Even my aging eyes can find a readable font size for most every book in those choices.  This font size screen also lets you zoom in and pan-and-scan around the page or even change the page display mode.  We’ll talk more about those options when we discuss PDF files.

While in a book, you can easily bookmark, highlight, or make notes.  Press the option key to choose the notes option.  You can highlight words or you can “dog-ear” a page to make a bookmark.  You can also make a handwritten note.  These notes can all be backed up to the copy of the book on your computer using the “sync” option in the Sony library software.  You can see a list of all the notes in your book and quickly move to that location by touching it to select it.  You can also search for a word or phrase within the book.

Just a quick note about a new feature you’ll see when you press the options button.  The current time will display on the status bar at the bottom of the screen for a few seconds when the options window opens.  This is a much easier way to check the time than the old way – by exiting the book and navigating down several levels of the settings to see the clock.

You can easily maintain your reader library by deleting books you no longer wish to have on your reader, by creating collections and adding or removing books in it.  You can even protect a book on your reader to prevent accidental erasure.

sony prs 650 review 31
Full page display of a PDF file

I personally don’t use many PDF files, but I know many people are very concerned with how well a reader can render them.  I don’t have a lot of PDF files at my disposal, but I do have the manual for my Nikon D80 camera.  That manual has images, tables, and columns, so I thought it would work well for demonstration purposes.  When you open the PDF file, the full page will be sized to display on the screen.  Depending on the PDF file and on your eyes, you may be able to read the page this way.  You’ll probably be happier opening up the font sizing window and using the Zoom and Page Mode buttons to adjust the size and layout.  (The font size buttons had no effect on the pages in my D80 manual.)

sony prs 650 review 32
Page Mode setup
sony prs 650 review 33
Display when set up for columns

With the page mode button, you can set the screen up for columns.  I chose the double column option for my manual.  The page is actually divided into quadrants, and you navigate down the column then to the next column with page-change swipes. If you have a table or an image you’d like to better see, you can use the zoom option.  Use the slider bar on the left of the screen to zoom in/out and use the up/down/right/left arrows to move around the screen.  You can even lock the zoom level so you can change pages and keep the same settings. 

sony prs 650 review 35
Zoom and pan-and-scan features in a PDF file

I was able to open up the dictionary by tapping on a word in a PDF.  Opening the dictionary means that I can also do a search for other instances of the selected word within the PDF.

Battery life is very good.  Sony is still sometimes describing it as page changes, which can be very misleading.  At least now, they tell you that they determined the number of page changes by fully charging the battery, opening a book of a particular size and format, then changing the page as quickly as possible until the battery is drained.  Nobody reads like that, and people were concerned when they’d get nowhere near the stated number of pages before needing to recharge.  Most of the power is used to change the page.  However, unless you actually power off your reader, it’s slowly draining small amounts of power all the time in standby mode.  A more useable descriptor of battery life is that you can expect about 14 days between charges if you read for a couple of hours or so a day.  I’ve always gotten at least that much time with every reader I’ve had, and I fully expect to get that from my new PRS-650.

A question many Sony owners want answered is “does the screen fade in direct sunlight?”  Apparently there were a few defective screens with this problem, but the majority of Sony readers apparently don’t fade in sunlight.  I’ve never had a problem with my Sony readers fading, but then I don’t spend a lot of time in direct sunlight.  I did take this reader with me when I’d go pick up my daughter after school, and I’d make a point of having the reader in sunlight.  My reader never faded.

When I got the PRS-600 Touch Edition reader last year, my elation soon turned to dismay when I finally noticed how reflective and glare-y the screen was.  I even started the return process before I changed my mind and decided to keep it.  Eventually, even its beauty and slick features weren’t enough, and I retired it for my 505 and then my iPad.  There is nothing about the PRS-650 that dismays me.  It’s pretty, it’s compact and light, it has dictionaries, and note-taking abilities.  It has a fast processor that makes loading up books, opening and reading books a snap.  It has a responsive touchscreen.  Best of all, it has the sharpest, clearest screen I’ve ever seen on a Sony.  I LOVE the PRS-650.  I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t require instant gratification of shopping and downloading books within the reader.  Heck, I recommend it to them, too!  I still love my iPad and spend way too many hours surfing, emailing, keeping my calendar and to-do lists, etc.  However, I’ll be reading on my Sony PRS-650.

207 thoughts on “Sony PRS-650 Touch Edition eBook Reader Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Hi,
    great reviw, thanks a lot. I’m a big fan of the Sony readers and own a PRS-505 and PRS-600. It would really be great to have the combination of the 505 screen and 600 touch capabilites.
    Just one thought: Di you try the reader in bright sunlight? Is there any problem with the touch screen? I understand hat it works with infrared light and that could be a problem when the sun shines directly on the screen. Any complaints about that?

    Greetings from Germany! Can’t wait to get it here.

  3. Thanks, Jeurgen. I used the reader in the sun to check for the screen fading issue some people experienced. I didn’t notice any problems with the touchscreen. I’ll take it out with me today -assuming the rain stops and we see the sun – and give it another try.

  4. Hi,
    Your photos don’t do the difference between the 600 and 650 justice. You can’t really read the 600 in low light conditions (which would be fine for a real book) and the glare is definitely annoying when inside with artificial lights. The 650 is superb in this respect. I wish I had stayed with the older model and not “upgraded” to my 600.

    The touch simply works the way you would expect it to. Again, that was a major flaw on the 600 as you needed to press so hard it often left a smudge.

    Sony have scored an own goal by not using a more standard USB connector though and skimping on the case. You don’t need to charge often but it is annoying to need a special cable and the lack of case seems skimpy compared to previous models.

    For reading though, it is truly brilliant. My library is split about 50/50 between PDF’s and epubs so it is the only game in town.


  5. The rain stopped but it’s cloudy still. I’ll try again tomorrow to test the IR screen in direct sunlight. Sorry.

  6. Other than the readability of the PRS-600, my other major gripe was the way the battery ran down even when the reader was in sleep mode. I had to recharge twice as often as with my PRS-505 (so every week instead of every two), which may not seem like a major gripe, but I found pretty annoying.

    Have you had a chance to observe the 650s behavior when in sleep mode? Does the IR run the battery down?

  7. Thanks for the detailed review! I have a PRS600 that I borrowed from my father and the screen contrast and fuzziness was my biggest complaint. I am looking forward to seeing the 650 in person and if the difference in screen is as big as I am hoping then I will slap down the ol’ credit card. I am hoping that Mark Murray is right and that the difference is even better than the photos suggest!

  8. @Kate I’ve only had the reader about a week and I’ve recharged it a couple of times – not because it needed it at all, but so I could test recharging by computer and by my Charge4All. It never dropped more than one divot, though.

    @Dave If you click to enlarge the two pictures with the 505 and 650 and the 600 and 650 comparisons, you get a better idea of the screen contrast. It’s very difficult to photograph electronic devices. When you have enough light to get a good look at some details, some others are over-exposed. In any event, the 650 has a better screen than the 505, and a MUCH better screen than the 600.

  9. Hi Janet. Good review. Seeing that you have a Nikon D80 I could recommend using the Nikon Capture NX program to colour correct your images, since you complained about not catching the colours of the readers. Unfortunately, it is sold separately, but it is very good. Basically, you put something black and something white (like two pieces of paper) in the picture together with what you want to photograph. Then you can make a white control point and a black control point on the papers. That way, the program gets a reference and can correct the colour temperature of the image. If you want to try, you can take an image, send it to me and I will correct it for you. Let me know 😉

  10. @Martin Thanks! I’ll look into the Nikon Capture NX program. It’s not cheap, but it might be worth it to be get better color rendition. Usually color is the least of my worries because most gadgets are shiny black!

  11. Okay, guys… We had rain again today, and it looks like we’ll be getting the remnants of tropical storm Nicole in the next couple of days. I’m not complaining, because we have mild drought conditions here now. But it does mean I probably won’t be able to check the IR responsiveness in the direct sun for a couple of days. I promise I won’t forget and I’ll do it ASAP.

  12. Good review, thanks. I concur with your findings, having now had my new 650 for 4 days and loving it. It is such an improvement on the 600, which I found didn’t have such a good screen as my 505.

    I also had the fading screen in sunlight problem, but haven’t been able to test this out on the 650 yet as it’s rained every day since I’ve had it. One gripe is that the Tuff Luv case I bought for the 600 is too big for the 650; it keeps slipping so the controls are hidden. I’m waiting to hear back from them if they intend making a smaller size, if not I will have to look for an alternative.

    The other gripe is that it doesn’t seem to take any notice of the reading order of collections, even if set up in metatags with Calibre. This the 600 did do, so I’m surprised at this. The ordering is good if you upload individual files, but not if you upload whole collections together. Guess I’ll have to put the reading order in the file name and sort that way.

    So far, 99/100 and I’m enjoying it.

  13. Say, now that the new Kobo’s coming out (with a similar screen, judging by specs) with WiFi… will we get a comparison? 😉

  14. @Haesslich I’ll be happy to review one for you if you want to send me one. 😉 I’m afraid buying the Sony 650 has emptied out my ebook reader budget for the rest of the year!

  15. I can answer the bright sun question: I got this exact reader (even the same colour) yesterday. I just now took it outside with full sun shining on it and no issues at all with the touch screen.

    Granted this is around the 49th parallel in fall so it’s not tropical equatorial sunshine but it seems fine.

  16. Just wanted to add that so far I love it however the Sony book store sucks for a Canadian, nearly all the books are U.S. only and there is no way to filter so you can see only books available to Canadians.

  17. @JohnC I had also tried using it in the sun to check for screen fading, as I had mentioned in the review. I hadn’t noticed any problems with the touchscreen, but I was mostly checking for fading. If we ever see the sun again, I’ll check it as well. I’m at 36 degrees N.

    As for the Sony bookstore, I wish you could filter US/Canadian offerings, too. I was so excited when I saw that there were suddenly 86 Dean Koontz books available! I was disappointed to see there were no new books, just Canadian-only version of the books they already had. One little question about my locale could have saved my credit card having a stroke while I contemplated buying all 30 or so new Koontz books at once!

  18. Fading…whups, didn’t see that, I’ll check again shortly. Thing thing with the locale is they already *know* your locale, you have to choose when you register. That’s what makes it so annoying, it’s just lazy programming.

  19. @JohnC It’s true that the software knows your location, but I often times go to the website to check out new offerings. I know a lot of people don’t like them, but a simple cookie with my location stored in it, or even having a checkbox where I can indicate my location if I wanted to filter for location, would be nice.

  20. @JohnC Thanks. Wikipedia frightens that resistance of IR touchscreen to intense light is bad, but looks like there is progress in this area.

  21. Janet: It’s $149… but I think I’ll be more likely to test it out, then send YOU the review. 😉 Still, it’s amazing how much progress there’s been in even a year after four years of relative stasis (the Kindle or the original PRS-500, then the release of the Nook, the cheap Aluratek readers, the PRS-600, then two different Kindle releases along with the WiFi-only Nook).

  22. Also, at least in store, the PDF turning was MUCH faster with the PRS-650 than the PRS-600. Not sure if it’s due to a better processor or more RAM, or if it was a software revision.

  23. I went to the Sony Store yesterday to have a look at the new readers and the screen seems much better. I had to use my memory to get the comparison, but it seemed a lot nicer to me. While I don’t relish getting the new one the screen of the 600 is a little disappointing and even more so after seeing the 650 🙂

  24. We finally had sun again today, and I was able to test the PRS-650 in direct sunlight. I had it in direct light for about 5 minutes and I never noticed any change in the responsiveness of the touchscreen. Changing pages, selecting options, and writing notes worked exactly the same through the entire time. I was in the sun long enough that the reader warmed up to the touch, but everything still worked fine.

    Hope that’s what you guys needed, Juergen and Darek!

  25. Wonderful review I had held on to my PRS 505 waiting for the 600 issues to be fixed, Now based on your review I ordered a 650, I was really trying to hold out for the 950 based on my need for good pdf support but I still think an ipad would be more suited for tech manuals and graphs and charts, And like you I really liked my red 505 so that was the icing on the cake since there are no plans as of yet for a red 950 🙂 Now to start saving for an ipad.


  26. @Jerry J Thanks! I think you’ll be glad you waited for the 650. The screen is beautiful – so clear even when compared to the 505. And page changes are MUCH faster than with the 505.

    I finally got my Sony cover. I think the reader is easier to hold in a book-style cover, and it’s easier to hold than the iPad when I read lying in bed. I have insomnia, and the Sony is more comfortable to hold while I read for 3-4 hours at night. The standard red cover has a chocolate brown interior, and the red 650 looks nice against the brown.

    I’m just glad that Sony started having red when they release a new model. I got a silver 505 when they were first released, then a few months later I was heartbroken when they released a red one. I whined and moped about not getting the red electronics again until my husband got me a red 505 for Christmas just to get me to quit whining!

  27. My PRS-350 arrived today and it is simply great! So small and the display is fantastic! Only drawback: No sort of case/cover included, so I’ve to chase for one.

  28. @Juergen I’m so glad you like the 350! I complained last year when Sony only provided a neoprene sleeve for the 600, but I could at least use it in some of the cases for the 505 I already had. The new versions of the readers are small enough that they don’t fit in cases for the previous models, and I haven’t seen any third-party covers for the new models, yet.

    I ended up buying the Sony Premium Cover for my 650. It’s expensive, but it’s nice. There’s a piece of leather that covers about 2/3 of the front, and there’s a synthetic material with a suede feel that makes up the rest of the exterior and all of the interior. I got the red case, which is actually red leather with a deep chocolate synthetic material. The red reader looks very nice on the brown.

    The case uses the normal Sony attachment bar that has pegs that fit in the holes on the upper and lower left ends of the readers. They’ve moved that plastic bar onto the back of the case instead of the spine, so it’s very easy to bend the cover completely back and hold the reader with one hand. It’s very comfortable to hold, and I like the looks of it and the extra protection it gives my reader.

  29. I have the m-edge Executive Jacket for my PRS-505 and PRS-600, but I think it will be a while until it will be available for the PRS-350. Until then I’ll try to get a neoprene sleeve to protect the screen a little bit.

  30. @Juergen I have the M-Edge Executive Jackets for the 505 and 600 as well! Those two cases seem identical except for the placement of one of the bottom straps. I tried the 650 in the Jacket I have on my 600, but it doesn’t fit well. The 650 is shorter and thinner than the 600, and it’s not held tightly in the Jacket for the 600. I’d like to get my hands on an M-Edge case for the new readers, too. I’d love it if they issued some Sony cases with the New Yorker covers and a pocket to hold an e-Luminator2. (Are you listening, M-Edge?)

  31. Thank you Janet for the comprehensive review.

    I purchased a 600 last year and loved its features, but I returned it because many of them did not work very well. I ended up buying a Kindle 2, which I don’t like very much precisely because of its note-taking limitations. It is encouraging that many of the problems of the 600 have been corrected in the 650.

    Could you please you tell me about the find function on the 650? With the 600, it was case sensitive, so if you searched for a word like “authors,” it would not find “Authors.” In addition, the finder would go slowly through each page of the text, highlighting each instance of the word, one word at a time. The find function on the Kindle is much better, not only because it is not case sensitive. Rather than going through each page of text, the Kindle brings up one single page listing all the instances of the word, so you can jump to the instance that you want.

    Another problem that I had with the 600 was that the highlighting function did not work very well. Instead of highlighting the words or sentences that I wanted, the device would highlight perhaps the right or the left quadrant of the page, and if I tried to highlight one word or sentence, highlights on the previous line would disappear. This happened not only on the Touch edition but also on the Daily Edition (the 900). So, could you tell me if this problem has been corrected on the 650? Does the highlighting function just work properly? For me, the inability to highlight properly was a real deal breaker.

    It was also very difficult (on the 600) to use the icon bringing the reader to the note-taking section. I would tap ten times and then sometimes be successful on the eleventh. You say that the screen on the 650 is more sensitive. Could you tell me specifically, when you are reading and want to go to the note-taking section, does tapping on the icon work easily?

    Thank you very much.

  32. @barbarajeanne11 Search doesn’t seem to be case sensitive any longer. There are two ways to open up the search. If you see the word of interest on the current page, you simply double-tap to select it, just as if you wanted to look it up in the dictionary. As a matter of fact, double-tapping the word opens up a multi-purpose window that lets you look up the word, highlight that word, or search for that word. If you do not see the word of interest on that page, press the options button, select the “search” option by touching it, then use the on-screen keyboard to enter the word.

    In both methods, you’ll be allowed to search forward and backward through the book to find other instances. You’ll be notified that there are no further matches and asked if you want to search in the opposite direction when you reach the last instance for the direction you’re moving. You do have to search through the book page-by-page; there’s no handy list like the Kindle produces.

    Search is not case sensitive for either method. I clicked on a capitalized word (No), and it found the word “no” and “No” – and it also found every instance of those letters inside other words. In a search from the keyboard, I looked for “search”, then “Search”, then “SEARCH”. It found every instance of the term regardless of the capitalization.

    It is very easy to start the search function now. I used my finger to double-tap a word, and it opened the dictionary/search window immediately. I used the stylus to double-tap with the same instanteous results. Of course the options button works easily, and the on-screen keyboard works effortlessly to enter the search term. This touchscreen is a dream; it’s MUCH more responsive than the 600 touchscreen.

    As for highlighting, I was able to highlight a single word by double-tapping it to open the dictionary/search window and tapping the highlighter icon. The window immediately closed after I touched the highlighter icon, so I could only highlight a single word by this method.

    I could highlight a line of text or multiple lines of text by pressing the options button, then selecting notes, then selecting the “create/edit” option. Choose the highlighter icon from the menu bar at the top of the screen, then you can select a word, a complete line, or multiple lines. I could highlight a line, then move down and select another line or word. It was easy to make multiple selections on a page. When I listed all the notes within my book, all of the selections I had made showed up in the list.

    I had no problem getting the screen to respond to me at all. If my font was tiny and I was afraid my finger would select more than I wanted, I used the stylus. When the font was slightly bigger – and I don’t mean gigantic, just not XXS – my finger worked to double-tap the word to open up the simple option to search or highlight a single word. Pressing the options key to start the search from the keyboard or highlighting and note-taking options worked flawlessly for me.

    Other than still lacking the handy list of search results, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily you can use the search and note-taking functions now. It seems Sony listened to what 600 owners (and probably 700 and 900 owners, too) had to say and made a lot of changes in the interface with the reader.

    You can also make notes – either handwritten or “typed” from the keyboard. With handwriting, you can just write on the page. To enter a note from the keyboard, I first made a highlight. Then I could tap the highlighted word or section and make a note that was tied to that highlighted section. You could tell you had a note associated with that selection because of a little black box superscript at the beginning of the highlighted selection.

    I have never written or highlighted in a book in all my life, and I guess I’m too old and set in my ways to change now. I say this just to explain that I really haven’t used the note-taking functions except to play around a little for the review and then to answer your questions. The functions were so incredibly easy to use, I could maybe even see myself using them to make notes in some of the manuals I have on my reader.

    I hope this answered your questions, and I hope this is some help to you, barbarajeanne11. Thanks for your kind words about the review!

  33. I just purchased the PRS-350 (Pocket edition) and am thrilled. I don’t need some of the extra functions included with the 650, so the 350, which fits easily into everything, suits me to a T.

    Of course, nobody wants to spend an additional $29 for the Sony wall charger. I happen to have purchased a Kindle 2 a few months ago, and it comes with the same type of cord that the Sony comes with: a mini-USB on one end, and a regular USB on the other. But, the Kindle cord also comes with a regular wall-plug attachment (the regular USB end fits into it). I plugged my Sony cord into the Kindle plug attachment, and that into the wall outlet and — it works!! Yep, the Kindle plug attachment works as a wall charger for the Sony.

    I would bet that it works for the 650 as well.

  34. Yay, barabrajeanne11! I’m so glad you like your reader! I reviewed the 300 earlier this year, and it’s a great reader. And it seems the 350 has everything the 650 has, other than the audio player – which I have no interest in anyway. It just didn’t come in red…

    And about the charging cable – I don’t want to seem picky, but it’s actually a micro usb cable. That’s just in case someone else is looking to see if they already have a charger that will work with the Sony readers.

  35. Well, I still love my reader but I just got the case for it (“Reader touch edition premium case” the one from sony without the light) and have been trying it for a week and frankly it sucks.

    I was hoping it would make it easier to hold as I have big hands but I’m still left with pretty much the same problem of no where to put my fingers. I was also hoping it would provide protection in case I accidentally dropped it and it certainly won’t.

    The case is fairly flimsy material, it reminds me of cheap cardboard faked to look like leather and the way it mounts are simply two plastic pegs that you force back to insert the reader that show every sign of being the first thing to break when I drop it besides the reader itself.

    It’s only serving one purpose really and that’s to keep the dust off and keep the cat from walking over the screen when I put it down somewhere.

    It does look good but that’s about it and it’s not like they show on the sony style website which seems to show some kind of beefier hinge with plastic parts, maybe they reused the picture from the one with the light but folded down the light?

  36. @JohnC: I’ve pre-ordered this from Amazon in Germany for my PRS-350. It is possible to completely fold the front flap over to the back of the reader without breaking the cover? Or does it have to stay open liek a book for reading?

  37. @JohnC and @Juergen The answer to Juergen’s question is the suggestion I was going to make to JohnC. I bought the Premium Cover (no light) for my 650. And JohnC, you’re right in thinking they showed the wrong interior shot for that cover – they are definitely showing the interior of the cover with the light. The Sony covers (since the 505, at least) have that plastic bar with a plastic peg at each end. I used those covers with my 505 with no problems whatever.

    They did change the style a bit for this cover. Instead of having that plastic bar glued to the spine of the cover, they moved it over so that it is attached to the back of the cover near the spine – like some 3-ring notebooks they are making now. With the new arrangement for the mounting hardware and the very flexible material they use for most of the cover, it’s possible to fold the front cover completely to the back. I hold the reader in my right hand and fold the cover completely back and pinch my right index finger between the covers. This helps make my one-handed grip much more secure. The front cover doesn’t lay completely flat at the spine and the front cover didn’t line up perfectly with the back (it stuck up a little higher than the top edge of the back – if you know what I mean) when folded back at first. The material is flexible, so I used my hands to compress the spine region to make it flatter, and that caused the front and back to align better.

    JohnC, you should check out the eCaddy BookArmor for a very sturdy, protective case. I haven’t tried one myself, so I can’t speak from experience, but people who have them seem to love them. They are supposedly very protective and they have a grab-handle on the spine for carrying that helps you hold the case for reading. You just slide you hand under the grab-handle to turn it into a steadying strap. I know that’s probably clear as mud, but you can see pictures and a video of it.

  38. Yes, Janet, you are right in making the correction: it *is* a micro-USB cable, and it is important to make the distinction so that readers will understand it. In any case, the “plug” attachment for the Kindles works as a wall charger for the Sonys as well.

    I have been working hard to stay on my budget all this year, so I am trying to economize even with a case for PRS-350. I had an old zing neoprene camera case (great cases), and the PRS-350 fits it perfectly. Today I went to the crafts store and for less than $10 purchased some foam-core, some sturdy but flexible plastic, some felt with a sticky back, and a square of black fleece. I plan on cutting the foam-core and plastic (and the felt and the fleece) to size and then pasting the fleece to the foam-core and sticking the felt to the plastic. I want to see if I can line the neoprene case with these two items for extra protection. The foam-core/fleece piece should cover the screen side, and the plastic/felt should cover the other size of my PRS-350.

    I will probably end up eventually biting the bullet and buying a real cover for my device, but it is fun to make things on one’s own and see how they turn out. Knowing Sony, their case will probably come to about $29, so if I can use a handmade one, it will be rather a saving.

  39. Janet, do you use a screen protector on your PRS-650 (or your other readers, for that matter)? In the old, PDA days, I would always use them on my Palm-powered devices. I don’t think that the touchscreen would be damaged by taps by fingertips, but it might be damaged by taps of the stylus. If you do use a screen protector, what brand do you like? I just affixed a write-rite screen protector to my 350. I am not crazy about the slicker feeling, but it the screen is still sensitive to taps by fingertip or stylus. Using the write-rite protector does render the handwriting/drawing function nearly useless, however.

  40. Hi barbarajeanne11. No, I’ve never used a screen protector on my Sony readers. I had tried them on Palms I used to own, but I’d find that they sometimes messed with the sensitivity of the touchscreens. I had one on my iPod touch for a while, but i eventually took it off, too. I’ve never tried one on the Sony readers at all. I used the Write-rites on my Palmies. I used the Zagg full-body protector on the iPod touch. I really liked the feel of the Zagg on the iPod, but I think it might change the responsiveness with a stylus because it does add a little “drag” to the feel of the skin. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  41. I always touch the screen with my fingernails, so no finger prints. A screen protector on an e-ink reader would be a shame!

  42. @Janet and Juergen, I guess my concern about the screen is less about smudges and fingerprints than it is about scratches. I ruined the screen of my first PDA (Palm Personal, back in the 1980s) from using the stylus so much. Since then, I have been avid about screen protection. I am now using a screen protector on my PRS 305, and I am not finding much decrease in sensitivity. I will see how it goes.

    Some other issues. I find that the process of saving highlights and notes becomes very slow after one has taken very many notes. I am now reading a fascinating book and, in 60 pages, have accumulated 157 highlights and notes. This is not unusual for me, as I like to have a conversation with the author as I read. But, I find that having so many notes does slow down the ereader — now it may take even 45 seconds to a minute to save a highlight or a note. The solution I think would be to read the book and import it to the desktop application, where any of the necessary highlights could be copied to Word or wherever. Then, one could delete many of the less significant highlights. I usually do not need to keep all the highlights, as the conversation with the author has effectively ended.

    Another, easier way of managing this would be to keep the notated version on the desktop and import a new, clean version of the same file after one has completed the book.

    @Janet. I, too, am not that interested in listening to music when I read. I like either to listen intently to good music or to pay close attention to what I am reading, and rarely do the twain meet. However, I can see some significant uses for the music feature. For example, a user could listen to an opera or an oratorio and read the libretto at the same time. (Particularly useful when the muscial work is in some language with which one is unfamiliar). Or, a reader could listen to an audiobook and read along. (I read Moby Dick that way on my Kindle, and it helped me get through some of Melville’s rather convoluted language.) That last feature would be particularly useful when studying drama. A play comes to life when you hear/watch it, but, sometimes one might want to slow it down and take notes about some significant aspect.

    BTW, I have used my arts and crafts materials and managed a rather klugey form of protection for my little neoprene case. It is not a lot of extra protection, but it was cheap and will suffice until I find something that I want. I have found that even the Sony Premium case is about $35.

  43. Most PDA screens are/were plastic. E-ink screens are glass – unless you’re using a diamond stylus, you should not be able to scratch them.

  44. Correction: it does NOT take 45 seconds to save a note when there is an accumulation of notes. It takes about 8 seconds (timed it). It only seems longer.

  45. @Kate, Thanks for your comment. I have removed the screen protector. Thank heaven.

    A note on speed. For the notes, I got save speeds ranging between 8 seconds and 40 seconds.

    I was able to import my notes into Word and I deleted them on the PDS-350. There were over 200 notes, and I used the delete function on the device, using the select all, delete commands. It took the device about 2 hours to delete all those notes and highlights. During that time, I cooked an omelette and had two long phone conversations.

    As a point of comparison, I imported my clippings from Kindle and tried to delete the notes and highlights in a batch; however, Kindle will only let you delete each note individually.

    I don’t know about the ipad, but it is clear to me that both the Kindle 2 and the Sony PRS-350 are, at this juncture, not yet well suited for the kind of heavy duty work that would be involved in scholarly reading and extensive note taking. I was listening to a news feature on NPR recently, which reported that at some university students were given Kindles for reading the course text materials. The note taking function on the Kindle was so difficult to use that the students resorted either to reading their text materials as if they were novels or using ordinary books. The next semester, a new group of students were given ipads, which the students found easier to use.

    I think that the Sony products are easier to use in note taking than the Kindles are, but taking notes in any volume on the Sonys might not be recommended. The best solution for now would be to import the book to the desktop, paste the notes into Word, and delete the notes on the desktop, and then export a clean version of the text back to the reader. That would solve the problem of the reader slowing down from the sheer volume of notes.

  46. Hi Janet, Thank you for such a detailed review! My daughter (age 11-almost 12) has beeen asking for an ereader since last year this time. She originally wanted a Kindle, but I have since talked her into the Sony. She’s a voracious reader and has certainly earned herself an ereader from Santa. 🙂 My question is this: the sony outlet store can order me a new (not refurb) 600 for $95 vs. the 650 which retails for $229 ($50 gift card if ordered thru sony though). Do you think that it is worth the extra money to order her the 650 or perhaps the new pocket touch? I appreciate an honest opinion of a user over a salesperson. Enjoy your day!

  47. Last year I ‘upgraded’ my 505 to a 600, but ended up going back to the 505 and donating the 600 to my local library.

    There’s simply too much glare and the touchscreen on the 600 decreases the contrast quite a bit. I personally do not recommend the 600. If it were me, I’d get her a pink 350 or even a 300, since many of those are on clearance right now.

  48. Hi Kim, Thanks for the nice words! I truly think spending the extra money for the latest models is the best. The improvement in screen contrast and clarity, the complete absence of reflectivity (did you see my 600 review with the picture of my daughter’s reflection in its screen?), and the improvement in the touchscreen makes the difference in price worth it, in my opinion. You can’t go wrong with the PRS-650.

    I haven’t personally tried out one of the new PRS-350 Pocket Edition readers, but I would think the 350 would also be a better choice than the 600 or the old 300 Touch. Judging by the comments above from readers who bought the 350, it sounds as good as the 650. The 350’s body is a bit smaller, the screen is 1″ smaller, and the available colors are different than the 650, but it seems to be the equal of the 650 in the things that matter. Oh, and there is no audio player in the 350, but I actually see that as a plus. I don’t want the audio player draining battery power that I could use for reading!

    I don’t think you could go wrong with either the 650 or the 350. Just chose the one that best fits your budget, and don’t forget to get her a cover for extra protection. If you decide on the 350 – and if she likes pink – there’s a special pink version with free cover for breast cancer awareness.

    You apparently get the $50 card offer with either reader. And those cards are for the ebook store, not the Sony store in general, it seems. That offer expires October 31.

    Let us know what you decide – and her reaction on Christmas morning!

    Edited to add after seeing Kate’s comment: Yes, the PRS-300 Pocket Editions are very nice, too. They have a clearer screen than the 600 models. I reviewed one of those, too, and I really liked it. It was very much like the old 505 that was so dear to my heart. The 300 won’t have a touchscreen, so that means no dictionary lookup, no highlighting, and no note-taking in the books. It also won’t come with a case, so you’ll have to try to find accessories for the 300 before they all disappear. Like the readers, those covers and chargers are on clearance. You can read my review of the PRS-300 model by looking for the link at the bottom of the 650 review above. It’s called the Pocket Edition in the links.

  49. Thanks Ladies! You both confirmed my “gut feeling” (the opposite of my hubby’s lol) I have, in fact, now put in my shopping cart the Breast Cancer 350. She already has an ipod, I like the free case and $50 of Sony books! Santa will be sure to tell her that her Nana picked it out for her. My mother passed away 32 yrs ago from breast cancer. Again, thanks for your photos and reviews! I’ll check back in in December with her reaction! <3

  50. @Kim Thanks for letting me know your decision. I’m sure her Nana DID help with the decision.

    And tell your husband that getting the 350 gives you a $35 cover and $50 of ebooks. That’s $85 extra you would have had to spend eventually anyway!

  51. @Kim Pressey THIS IS IMPORTANT: You’ll want to help your daughter navigate the Sony Bookstore. My daughter and I were shopping for some books for her, and I saw some books were wrongly placed in the Children/Young Adult categories. Some of the books in that section were for young, frisky adults – if you know what I mean. I have the Sony software on my computer and I “help” Rachel whenever she wants to look at the books in the store. Hopefully they have already straightened out their categories, but better to be safe!

  52. Phew~Two great messages! Do husband’s ever really understand Christmas or gift giving? lol Do they just think we mom’s stand in line for hours on Black friday for the mere sport of it? I appreciate the navigation together suggestion! Crazy stuff today. I learned the hardway buying an explicit cd at Target~I had actually asked for the NON-explicit and with my eyes? I didn’t see they sold me the incorrect one! Trust me~they took it back! grrr~ I also hope that I earn 3% back thru If you haven’t checked it out? It is worth the time to do so. 🙂 Thanks again! (BTW: Nana always plays a part~I count on it.)

  53. @Kim My husband leaves most of the shopping up to me. I don’t think he cares what short-cuts I take to get things done – so long as he doesn’t have to do it! 😉 🙂

  54. Glad you found what you needed, Kim.

    Just to clarify, though, the 300 did not have a touch screen – it was basically a stripped-down 505 with no music player or card slots (although twice as much onboard memory) and a smaller screen. I’ve also heard of people finding them on clearance at Target for under $40.

    Janet, have you compared the 650 to the 505? I know the 650 has more bells and whistles, but my experience with the 600 proved to me that bells and whistles are nowhere near as important as pure readibility. I live in a small town and haven’t seen a 650 ‘live’ yet, but I did get a chance to compare my 505 to a Kindle 3, which has the Pearl screen like the 650, but did not see that much difference in the store.

    Note-taking is the feature I most find lacking in the 505, but not sure it’s worth upgrading unless the reading experience is $200 better, too.

  55. @Kate Yes, I spend a considerable amount of time in the above review comparing the 650 to the 505 as well as comparing it to the 600. There is a picture comparing the text on the 505 directly with the 650. The 650 has a clearer screen and a much faster processor. I don’t care at all about the note-taking abilities because I don’t write in books – not even ebooks – but I do love the fast page turns and the sharp text on the 650. I do like the extra memory and the dictionary lookup in the 650, too.

  56. Sounds like the note taking ability isn’t the greatest from the other posts here (also for me something I utterly don’t care about) but I can’t understand why you wouldn’t just have a notepad and a pen for taking notes anyway? Seems like a nice easy low tech solution to the problem.

  57. fantastic review, partner wants one for christmas and i havnt got a clue when it comes to gadgets, but now i know all about it lol cheers for that.

  58. i was contemplating the i pad but we have i phones….. so he said ….. no point in the i pad really…. i just dont want it to be another gadget that lies in the drawer, he does buy alot of books

  59. Hey Janet!
    I’m in Canada and am about to buy a PRS-650. So, I’ve heard that many books aren’t available in Canada from the Sony store. Do you know if there is any way to check that?
    And the Kobo store seems to have pretty much all the books I want. I was wondering.. If I buy books from the Kobo store and upload them onto my reader, will the book covers show on the Sony reader? And like will the book appear in the same way.. Like any glitches or whatever?

  60. Hi Shaikh! I know the Sony store has some books that are available for sale in Canada only. For example, some Dean Koontz books had two entries – one for US customers, one for Canadian customers. I haven’t found any way to get the bookstore to show me only the books for a single country. I also don’t know if Canadian customers can buy a book that has only one version available.

    I’ve never bought anything from Kobo, but I understand that you can use them with the Sony readers. I would imagine they would work like any other book on the Sony reader, assuming they were a format the Sony can use and were properly authorized with the Adobe drm.

    I’m sorry I don’t seem to be able to offer much help with your questions. You should try checking the MobileRead forums. People there are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Check out the Sony forum here:

  61. @John C My daughter and I both tried out the notetaking feature (in Borders) on the Touch. It was incredibly responsive and was one of the deciding factors for my purchase of the Sony.
    @Shaikh Yes, Kobo books work on the Sony according to Borders Bookstore. You might need to download an app. @Janet~Again, GREAT thread. Thank you! The Pocket Touch arrives tomorrow! (Yes, Mom is charging it and trying it out before Santa puts it under the tree!) 🙂

  62. @Kate. I also found the notetaking feature on the Sony to be responsive in the store, but it was less so after I entered a lot of notes over a short period of time. I am interested in knowing how the note taking capability on your model holds up after a period of intensive use.
    @John, Your low-tech note-taking solution does have some advantages, but some drawbacks are that handwriting gets cramped, paper accumulates, and large note pads are less portable than a small device is. I am doing a bit of research and study for an ongoing project, and I would like to minimize what I have to carry around. I used to have a PDA with a portable keyboard, and both would fit in my handbag. I could go to a cafe bringing these items in my purse and read and write and think (and drink coffee) for hours. Now I have a netbook, but these items are so much smaller!
    @Janet, yes, thanks for this opportunity to learn and share. This thread has saved us all many hours of research and trips back and forth to the store!

  63. @Kim Pressey I think Mom might need to order a second reader. After playing with it for a few weeks, Santa may find it impossible to wrench it out of Mom’s hands to put it under the tree! 😉

    @barbarajeanne11 and @Kim Pressey I’m so glad you find the review and comments so helpful!

  64. That would be a shame wouldn’t it?! LOL I have, in fact, purchased the so-called gadget/electronic device for myself early on to see if it is REALLY what my child wants! (I have pre-bought a nintendo ds lite and an itouch) It works like a charm. This year? Again, they will have fewer gifts, but exactly what they ask/need. I have a basement and garage full of stuff that just needs to go!

  65. Hi Shaikh, I’m in Canada as well and sells their ebooks through KOBO. I emailed KOBO specifically about the prs-650 because they had an old post saying their books worked with the Sony E-reader and were referring to the old version.

    They just sent the same info so I guess it must work but I’m disappointed Chapters doesn’t sell the books in various formats themselves. KOBO seems only interested primarily in selling their own reader device.

    Also the prices are maddening in some cases you’re paying hardcover prices for downloading a tiny file of bits. It’s all out of whack. I’d love to be able to send the author directly 5 bucks or whatever is fair and cut out the middle man entirely. That day will come I’m sure but in the mean time there’s serious gouging going on.

    As for the Sony bookstore that installs with the device, it *sucks* for Canadians. They show all the books even though they know you’re in Canada when you install it and provide no way to filter for books available to Canada only so you really can’t use it at all, every book I picked says U.S. only. It’s very poorly designed software and pretty much U.S. only as it stands.

    I emailed them about it and they replied that they were hoping to be able to offer more books for Canadians in future and no word on fixing their software so you could filter by country availability. Even their free books were not available to Canada.

    That all being said there are places you can get *many* ebooks if you look hard enough and I feel no guilt about downloading a book I already own in physical form and I have hundreds of those.

  66. Okay Janet~Doorbell just rang, FedEx dropped of the Pocket Edition Touch and it is currently being charged! The display looks terrific! It is even better than in Borders. 🙂 to be con’t

  67. Hi Shaikh, weird co-incidence, a couple of hours after I posted about how the sony store sucks for Canadians I got an email from them:
    “Dear Fellow Reader,

    We are happy to announce that thousands of previously unavailable eBooks are now available for purchase in Canada. We apologize for any inconvenience over the past few months and are committed to providing you access to the widest selection of digital reading content.”

    I immediately fired back an email asking if they fixed the store so you could filter by country availability yet because that’s absolutely necessary but haven’t heard back yet. In any case perhaps there is more selection but “thousands” of Canadian books out of hundreds of thousands of books means we still need a decent filter to find them.


  68. For the Canadian readers: I received an email from the Reader Store today, October 22, stating that many titles are now available for purchase in Canada. I’ll have to check it out.

    Janet, great review of the PRS-650! It’s very thorough and helpful. I’m going to see about loading my camera’s PDF manual on to the eReader. Great idea for when I need to look some feature up when I’m away from home.

    The other difference between the Pocket Edition and the Touch Edition (350 and 650) is that the Touch edition has the memory card slots. I went with the 650 for that reason. I may not use the memory cards, but it’s nice to know that I can use them.

    I was amused to read “I wouldn’t want to use this to write a novel, …” because that is one of the things I intend to do with the text memo section! Well, maybe not write a complete novel, but I am planning to use the 650 to write some bits of a novel in November when I don’t have my laptop available.

  69. @Kim Pressey I can’t wait to hear next week if you decided to order a PRS-650 for yourself, or if you’ll keep the 350 and order something else for your daughter! 😉

  70. @JohnC It’s great that Canada will have access to lots more books, but like you, I hope they give us some way to filter the books. It IS very irritating to find a great book then realize you can’t buy it!

  71. @belphebe Thanks for the kind words. Hopefully you’ll be more adept at entering notes than I am. My handwriting is too cramped and fast to work well with the notes input. I’m slow tapping in words with the on-screen keyboard because I’m used to touch typing and can never find the letters when I’m in “hunt-and-peck” mode. I think I’d be more successful editing something I’d already written than in writing new things.

  72. @Janet I LOVE it! lol I’m leaning towards keeping the 350 for myself and getting her a silver 650 with a blue zippered case 😉 I will keep you posted! She just got off the bus, so I had to stop “setting it up”! I’ll be in touch!

  73. @Kim Pressey You went quicker than I thought! Now begins a couple of months keeping your new love hidden until Christmas – quick reads while she’s at school, bringing it out only at night when she’s asleep… 😉 🙂 I hope you both love your new readers! And if you order the 650 soon, you’ll get $100 of gift coupons to the book store!

  74. @Janet Yes it is going to be a challenge using the onscreen keyboard because I am a touch typist as well. I’ll give it a try, and hopefully won’t find the experience too frustrating.

  75. @Janet Glad to amuse you! She actually liked the larger size in the store and with the sony giftcards? It is like a Black Friday Deal now! (I can justify my spending without much effort!) I like the pocket size because I can fit it in my camera bag. I’ve set up a sony store account. She and I will share one for parental control. Thanks again for your help! 🙂

  76. @belphebe November’s just around the corner. Let us know how well the PRS-650 works for you for working on your novel. You’re not the first person I’ve heard say they want to use the note-taking functions for something like this.

  77. @Kim Pressey I was just teasing, and I think it’s fabulous that you and your daughter like the readers so much. My family – husband, daughter, and I – all share one account. If you don’t, you won’t be able to share books.

    Seriously, I would get her a cover that stays permanently attached to the reader, like the Breast Cancer Awareness cover does. With the zipper case, you take the “naked” reader out of the case when you read. Those little things are slippery and easily dropped. Having a case permanently on offers much more protection than those zipper cases.

  78. @Janet Again, with terrific advise! What would I do without you? She’s constantly writing stories, so the 650 would be easier for her “typing” too. Attached. Got it. 🙂 Thank goodness I set-up the account the right way! I want Christmas morning to be a breeze!

  79. Janet,
    Thanks for taking the time to make such a great review! I do have a couple questions. I see the batter is rechargeable. Is it replaceable as well? Also, in your opinion, do you think they will offer the 50.00 ebook gift card again before Christmas?

  80. Thanks, Thelma! The Sony readers don’t have user-replaceable batteries, but I think you can send them in to Sony for replacement. I don’t know about this model, but I have read online about people changing the batteries in older models themselves. I usually prefer to just buy the new model. 😉

    Sorry, but I don’t have any idea if they’ll have any more special offers before Christmas.

  81. Hi. I’m just wondering, does the color of the PRS-650 (especially around the buttons found at the bottom of the reader) fade after extensive use? I’m planning to buy the red one but my aunt told me that that version is “more prone to color-fading.” Is this true? 🙂

  82. @Krista The PRS-650 has only been out about 1.5 months, but I’ve noticed no color change on it. However, my husband, daughter, and I have owned a total of 10 Sony readers since the original PRS-500 was released. We’ve had 3 black 500s, 3 silver 505s and one red 505, two red 600s, and one red 650, and I’ve never seen any hint of color change on any of them. I haven’t heard anybody else complain about color fading or changing on the readers.

  83. @Julie You want me to go to (Sony) rehab? I say “no, no, no!”

    Oh, and I have at least one case per Sony reader…

  84. @Janet Cloninger I just bought the prs 650 today. Thank you soooooooooooooomuch for your review. It was a great help. cheers 😀 (It*- sorry my ts do not work sometimes, its you that was a “great help” 😀

  85. Hi! Just read your review and all the comments…I am hoping to buy a 650 with some saved up gift money, otherwise there’s no way I’d afford it, so it really has to be right! SO here comes the Spanish inquisition…: I want it for reading for pleasure but also viewing pdfs and note-taking. I don’t think I’ll ever afford an iPad at this rate so would you recommend the investment of the 650, given I need to take notes for research purposes? I would mostly need to highlight and make small notes. Also, can the notes be uploaded into Word? Finally, can the 650 charge through a laptop (plugged in to the wall socket of course)? Finally, does anyone know if the micro USB cable will plug into a USB ipod plug to charge in the wall? I’m in the UK by the way. Thanks so much! 🙂

  86. @Ailsa If you’ve read the review and my replies, you’ve seen all I know about note-taking on the 650. If you need more information, you should try MobileRead. That forum is full of information from people who use a variety of ebook readers.

    The PRS-650 ships with only a micro USB cable that is used to sync and charge your reader – so yes, it charges from a laptop. I’ve read that people aren’t successful in charging using the Apple iPod wall plug to charge, but many have reported using cell phone chargers to successfully charge the reader. I’ve used a cell phone charger and my Charge4All charging tube to charge my reader.

  87. @Janet Cloninger. Loving the prs650. The glare is not a problem at all. Highlighting can be a pain sometimes. Janet do you know how to registor at the sony ereaderstore? Also, i downloaded the software onto my laptop but can’t access free google ebooks, has it worked for you? thanks. 😀

  88. @Ereader I’m glad you like the 650! I tried to download a Google book this morning and had no problems. I simply started the Sony Reader Library software on my computer, and I went to Google books by clicking the “Google Books” entry under “Featured Links” in the left frame of the store home page. You can also click on the “Unearth a Classic” box at the bottom right of the home screen. Once I was at Google books, I navigated to the page for the book I wanted, pressed the “Download Now: Free” button, and the book was downloaded and available in my library of books.

    As for registering, I simply tried to load up a DRMed book I had bought from the Reader Library store. I was told I had to register the device first, and clicked okay. You can probably do it by going into the “MY Account” section (see the top of the home page of the reader library store) and then choose the “My Devices” category.

  89. @Ereader, I had this problem too, but discovered it was my internet filter that wasn’t letting me get to everything in the store. I had to add the site to my allowed list and then everything worked fine. Hope that helps.

  90. @Janet I have downloaded books from the Sony reader software on my laptop and I have also added books to my library from other internet sites. I have nicely organized collections! 🙂 I am wondering if you know of a way to back up all my books. I would like to be able to back everything up from one place in the reader library onto a memory card/stick. thanks for any help you can give me!

  91. Janet, I hope someone is paying you to do this because there are far too many people taking advantage of you rather than looking up stuff for themselves.

    Your review is first class and the follow up posts below in the comment section are more than enough for anyone to decide if they want to buy one or not.

    Anything further at this point is going way beyond the call of duty and frankly I’m a bit shocked at the willingness people have to treat you as if you’re their personal secretary. 🙂


  92. @Thelma My book files get backed up when the rest of my files get backed up. The backup software you normally use probably lets you specify an input and output location if you want to do a backup of just the book files.

  93. @JohnC Thank you so much for the compliment! Nope – no kickbacks from Sony – not even a free ebook! 🙂

  94. Hello Janet,
    I’m from Bulgaria and is very important for me to know if this new model support Cyrillic character set and if DOC. files with Cyrillic character set are displayed correctly.
    Thanks in advance.
    Kind Regards!
    Martin Andonov

  95. If you buy a book from the Sony store and accidentally delete it, does the store remember and let you download it again?

    Have you downloaded any books from Amazon and converted them?

  96. @Mike Stoddart Yes, you can re-download your books from the Sony store if you accidentally delete a book.

    I’ve never downloaded a book from Amazon and converted it. The Amazon books are protected by DRM, too, so it’s not just a matter of converting it to another format.

  97. HI Janet,
    Your reviews are the ones that helped me deside which ereader I want to buy.
    PRS650. I don’t see the need for wifi and such when you can store so many books on one device. It doesn’t make any sence to me,but to each their own.
    I read that the PRS650 battery is not accessable to the user. How does one change or get the battery changed if necessary ??
    I live in Ontario Canada in a small town and wonder about that.

  98. There are 3rd party companies that sell batteries for the older Sony readers, I’m sure they will for the new one as well. The even have a video showing how to do it here:

    Obviously it will be different for the new reader but I bet it won’t be too hard and there will probably be a video then as well.

  99. Janet, in reply to John C, I just want to personally thank you for all the work and time you have put into this review. It is very thorough and helpful. I apologize for asking too much and thank you for your patience! 🙂 You have been most helpful!
    are you a good person?
    take the test!

  100. @Thelma I love my little Sony 650, and I want everybody to have one! I know not everyone has access to stores with the readers on display, so I’m happy to try to answer questions.

  101. Dear Janet,

    you have provided a wonderful review of the Sony PRS650. My husband just bought me one for my birthday and i am vary happy with it. I do have some questions that i hope you can help me with. First of all i want to say thank you for your help as i realize you dont get paid for this and you do it out of the goodness of your heart.
    My first question is that when i turn of the reader and wish to resume reading my book (which i had set a bookmark before turning off), often times the book opend to the front cover. How do i open the book so i get back to the last page that i read?
    MY next question is: If i were to buy one for say my daughter, can she acces the same books that i have downloaded without having to buy them again?
    Can one download sudoku books and play them on the reader?
    These are all my questions. Once again thank you for your time in all of this.

  102. @Pierrette Thanks! I’m glad you are happy with your reader. I’m not sure what you mean when you say the book opens to the front cover. When I turn on my reader sometimes, I’ll be on the home page, and my book cover will be shown as the last book I was reading. All I have to do is tap that cover and it opens to the last page I was reading. You don’t have to store a bookmark to mark the last page you were on; the books automatically remember when you last were reading.

    I don’t know of any sudoku books that can be used on the Sony reader.

    Yes, you and your daughter can share books. You simply authorize her in your Sony library software on your computer. You can have five authorized devices: your computer counts as one, your reader as one, and your daughter would be the third device. You just hook her reader up to your computer and load books just like you did with your own reader.

    Hope this helps.

  103. Thank you so much Janet. My reader for some reason has never opened to the last page that i was on. It always goes back to the front cover of the book. I thne need to remember where i left off?? I must be doing soemthing wrong but i cannot seem to figure this out.

  104. @Pierrette I’m not sure what’s happening with your book, either. Have you tried looking at the manual? It is one of the books that came pre-installed on the reader. Maybe it will have some info that will help.

    I was thinking about my earlier answer. I believe you can actually have six devices total – your computer and up to five others.

  105. Picked up a PRS-650 on Friday. Loving the screen so far. I’m not a fan of the user interface but I like swiping to turn pages. Sony’s software is barely adequate so I’m using Calibre instead. The device seems solid and well built and hopefully will last longer than the Kobo I was considering as the alternative.

  106. Thank you again Janet. I have gone the the manual several times but cannot find anything to help me with this problem. I will continue looking.

  107. I recently donated my PRS-505 to my Aunt who has developed an alegic reation to ink – and had basically given up hope of ever reading books again. It looks like the device is going to literally change her life. For me it meant that I had a reason to upgrade to the 650 which I did a few days ago – and I love it! The two things I’d most recommend is 1, purchase the sony ebook cover. The reading light contaned therein is excellent for those of us that like to read in bed. 2, Download the Calibre free software from the web. It’s far more flexible and has many more features than the native Sony software.

  108. Right on Mike Ryder, I agree. Actually I removed the Sony software entirely and just copy my ebooks into the correct folder directly on the device.

    I found the Sony software to be mysteriously doing something in the background constantly and it was clunky to use and just got in the way. Files and folders just make more sense.

    I downloaded Calibre just to convert some books format into Sony compatible but I never actually used it to sync with the reader or anything.

  109. Janet, great review.
    I am thinking of getting one. I have a 505. Love the idea of the dictionary. I was wondering if anyone has had the experience of using the Kindle 3 dictionary? That is, I think the Sony 650 would be better to use as it does have the touch screen to instantly to tap and lookup a word, while the Kindle 3 would mean, I presume, you would have to navigate through the document using the keyboard as it does not have touch screen, so I would imagine it slower with a less user friendly interface? I have not actually had an opportunity to try a Kindle 3 so I would be grateful for any opinions.

  110. @Chris Thanks! Yes, using the dictionary in the 650 simply requires tapping the word. I haven’t used a Kindle 3, so I can’t help with your question. But I know that Target stores are stocking them now. If you have a local Target, you could go give the Kindle 3 a look – assuming they have a working display unit.

  111. @Chris The Kindle has a 4-way navigation pad with a select button; to select stuff you move a word-based cursor around with it. The first part of the definition appears in a popup window at the bottom of the display, and then you click the select button to go to the full entry. It’s definitely slower, but not terribly so in my opinion; then again I usually don’t look stuff up very often.

  112. I have bought one just couple days ago. The main advantage is a variety of formats this reader supports and good screen.

    Unfortunately it seems like Sony engineers didn’t really pay attention to details or there was really poor user experience team involved in developing this product.
    1) You can not write text notes while reading a book. Although you can try to write something down with stylus it is not really efficient(and readable).
    2) If you want to write something down(with stylus) you have to get back to default page mode(if you’re using margin cut for example).

    My overall opinion: it is not worth £200 spent on it. There is still many things to improve.

  113. @Alan You can make handwritten notes in the books. As I mentioned in the review, it seems to work better if you go slowly and write large. The handwriting has to go over the text of the book, and that makes both the book and the note harder to read.

  114. Thank you very much for answering previous question, Janet. Actually, I am not a US citizen and as such, it is difficult for me to decide if the reader can function normally from where I live. You mentioned charging your reader using an AC adapter. I would just like to know the input voltage of your wall outlet. Can the reader be charged in a 250v input voltage?

  115. @Krista In the US, wall outlets are 120V. I would imagine that you could buy an official Sony charger for the reader for your country. Or you could find a wall charger that works for your voltage that will supply standard USB output and use it with the micro USB cable that comes with the reader.

  116. Great review…im really looking forward to buying mine, but knowing what languages are included in the translation dictionaries would make this one my definitive choice.

    Could you please post here a full list of the translation dictionaries? I know there are ten, but you just listed a couple.

    Thanks in advance


  117. @Lak Thanks! The complete list of dictionaries:

    New Oxford American Dictionary
    Oxford Dictionary of English

    The complete list of translating dictionaries:

    Oxford-Hachette French (English to French)
    Oxford-Hachette French (French to English)
    Collins English-German Dictionary
    Collins German-English Dictionary
    Oxford Spanish Dictionary (English to Spanish)
    Oxford Spanish Dictionary (Spanish to English)
    Collins English-Italian Dictionary
    Collins Italian-English Dictionary
    Van Dale Pocketwoordenboek Engels-Nederlands
    Van Dale Pocketwoordenboek Nederlands-Engels

  118. @Pedro T. Both the Sony PRS-650 and the Kindle use E Ink screens, so neither should cause more eye strain than the other.

  119. I see. Well then, I hope that works. Or if does not, I do believe I have the option of just plugging it to my PC. 😀 Readers are not sold from where I live (it was through a friend living there that I can be able to purchase my own Reader) so I was kind of worrying if there will ever be a Sony charger that would work with our standard voltage.

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer my queries. I truly appreciate it. 🙂

  120. @Janet I have just discovered a new way of adding notes. Hand-writing with a stylus on a book is rather uncomfortable and unreadable however it is possible to highlight some text, tap it once and add a text note or drawing to the selection. You can also add a note to a whole page by bookmarking it and tapping once in the top-right corner.

    Unfortunately you still can not add a note or drawing while in zoom mode but it’s a minor inconvenience. I thing I will get along with it somehow:).

  121. I’m continually mystified by the number of people that want to take notes *on* their book reader. I ran into a guy at a used book sale who was thinking of buying a book reader and the first thing he asked me was about taking notes on it!

    Isn’t it a thousand times more convenient to take notes in a physical note pad with a pen?

    Clearly I’m missing something here but coming from the background of a hard core computer user and programmer for over 20 years my intuition tells me it’s just not worth the hassle.

    What am I missing about this that it makes any kind of sense to take notes on a book reader over a note pad and paper?

  122. @JohnC I never understood writing in books. I didn’t have many when I was a child, and I treasured them. Books were my friends, and I don’t deface my friends.

    My daughter had to beg me not to reply to a note from her literature teacher at the beginning of the school year. The teacher sent home a list of the books the kids had to purchase (or borrow from a friend or a library, she added) to use in class. She said the kids had to learn to start taking notes IN their own books! First of all, you don’t write in books in my world. Second, she had just said they could also borrow them from someone – so they wouldn’t be writing in their own books in that case!

    I have such an aversion to writing in books that I won’t even do it in electronic books. That’s why I’m not much help to people with questions about taking notes on the Sony 650.

    But, to each his own, I guess.

  123. Janet, you mentioned the color or the “red” is more raspberry, can you tell me anything about the color of the matching red case? Do you have one? Do you like the color?

  124. @Thelma I do have a Sony case. I got the standard cover without the light inside, and I like the cover a lot. As for the color, it’s two-toned. About 2/3 of the front cover is leather, and that part is a deeper, browner red than the reader itself. It doesn’t match at all. The rest of the front, the spine, the entire back, and the entire interior is made of a synthetic material with a suede-like texture. All the synthetic material is a true, chocolatey brown color. The brown looks great with the red leather of the front. This brown also looks good with the raspberry red of the reader. You never really see the color of the reader with the color of the leather on the front, so it doesn’t matter to me that they don’t match. I like the color, and I like the way the cover functions. As far as I know, the lighted case is exactly the same color as my standard case.

  125. @John You are right. There is nothing more conveniet for making a notes than a pad and a pen. I even prefer this set over writing notes on my coputer. Unfortunately it is not so easy for me to carry and use the pen & pad on a journey or even at home when I want my short note to relate to a particular fragment.
    But yes, for writing longer thought a piece of paper is the best.

    @Janet My father used to treat books, as he said, “with respect”. He kept them on shelves and read in free time. For me in contrast books are tools for conveying information and inspiration and I do not hesitate to write on them. I like to learn something, take action, refer back to what I have just learned, improve and so on… But of course everyones’ approaches to reading books are different.

  126. Hi! Thanks for your time answering our questions.I would really love to buy an e-reader but where I live it is difficult to see one live. So it is a leap of faith placing a buying order and reading other peoples experiences and opinions is mostly appreciative and helpful for making the right decision. My last concern is the size of the screen. I am a casual reader mostly but I also have some technical books in pdf format that I would like to be able to read them. My budget is happier with Sony PRS-350 which has a 5″ screen but I would like to know if the PRS-650 model has advantages that justify the extra cost or differently put, if the PRS-350 has compromises for keeping the cost down. Whichever reader I will get, I will be going to keep using it for very long before I replace it, so I can spent extra money if it really worth it.

  127. @Simos I bought the Pocket Edition for My daughter and have been giving it a test run. We love the smaller footprint of it. In your case though you might want to consider the fact that their are no memory card slots on the pocket edition. I’m not sure if this is something you need to move your pdfs around. Other than that, we love it.

  128. @Simos Yes, Kim Pressey is correct that the PRS-350 is missing the memory card slots. If it matters to you, it also is missing the mp3 player that the PRS-650 has. I haven’t seen one of the new PRS-350 readers, so I don’t know if there are any other differences. And of course, the smaller screen would mean less real estate for displaying the PDF.

  129. Just an hello from and many thanks for your work ! Bravo from France, great job. I’m like you i love my knew 650 and i sold the old 600…this one is almost like paper print ! the best reader, will see next year…

  130. Greetings from Australia! Fantastic review. I have been researching E-readers all week and this is by far the best resource I have found. Thank-you. I will now be getting one of these for my wife’s xmas pressie!

  131. Great write up and review. I want to share books with dad. I saw how I can hook my reader to his computer and I should be able to get his books. Would he be able to get my books? or will he need to hook up to my computer?

  132. @Todd Holmes Thank you! You and your dad can share books, but you may be required to use a single account to do it. If you are getting only non-DRM-protected books, you should be able to connect to each other’s computers and load up books. If you are both buying DRM-protected books from the Sony store, you’ll have to both be authorized to a single account at the Sony store.

    However, you are allowed to have up to 6 authorized devices on a single Sony account. So you could have his computer, your computer, his reader, and your reader all authorized to the single account. You’d have to work out how you’d pay for the books, but you could both download all purchased books onto your own computer and put them on your own reader anytime.

    I hope this makes sense. It’s a little hard to describe…

  133. I just ordered mine. I traded in my prs-500 for $75 to get the 650. I can’t wait.
    Thanks for the review.
    I’ve been waiting for to buy a reader for along time and now it seems the timing was perfect.
    Woo hoo!

  134. @Steve I’m glad you’re getting a reader!

    How did that $75 trade-in work? Did it take a long time to get your old reader in and get your trade-in value? I’ve got an old PRS-500 with a battery that doesn’t hold much of a charge anymore. I’ve been toying with the idea of trading it in and getting a Daily Reader. (Not that I’ll be giving up the PRS-650 – just adding to my collection, you know…)

  135. An Update. I have been using my Sony Reader PRS 350 (Pocket Edition) for about three months now, and I am happy with it. Reading is a pleasure. Note taking is easy if there are not very many notes, but I would not recommend the PRS 350 for note taking when reading technical materials or educational textbooks. A great feature is the Text Memo, which I use all the time for making notes to myself on the fly. At first, I found the thumb board on the Pocket Edition a little to small for easy use (the thumb board is larger on the PRS-650 and even larger on the Daily Edition), but I gradually refined my “thumbing” technique and now I can manage it easily. If you change the orientation to “landscape,” the thumb board is larger, but, if your hands are small, it is more difficult to hold the device horizantally in your hands.

  136. @barbarajeanne11 I’m glad your reader is such a useful and enjoyable tool for you! Thanks for coming back to share your experience with note-taking, too.

  137. In summary:

    I give the 650 an A+ for “reading experience” for novels or other text-heavy ebooks.

    I give the 650 an A+ for saving lots of money in accessing free books.

    I give the 650 an A for long battery life.

    I give the 650 (and probably other similarly sized eBook readers too) a D- for reading books containing a lot of maps, photos, diagrams, tables, footnotes, etc.


    I bought my SRS-650 a month or so ago when I saw the $50 gift card offer. I was waiting for the 650 to show up in retail stores but the $50 discount pushed me to buy directly from Sony.

    In short, I love it.

    I bought one because

    (1) It seemed I’d be able to save a lot of money (getting free classic books from Project Gutenberg, free books from public library, or at a $10 discount over new hardbacks). This has proven to be true. I’ve already read several free books from Gutenberg ( and the supply is endless. I haven’t bought any eBooks yet (other than the lord of ring series and steinbeck collection to use my $50 gift card).

    (2) I have poor eyesight and the adjustable font size appealed to me. WOW!!! It is very easy to read on the Sony. In addition to the large font size, simply being a flat reading surface eliminates the shadows you get with real book. Also, the Sony stays open when laying on a table so it is very easy to read hands-free (while eating, poor manners, I know, sorry).

    Regarding Sony vs Kindle or Nook (or IPad thingy).

    I deliberately picked the Sony because it did NOT have internet access. I DO NOT want to be distracted while reading. I have enough ways of accessing the internet – I DO NOT NEED OR WANT another one. Reading is my ESCAPE from technology. Reading on the the 650 is just like reading a a real book. The device ‘disappears’ once you start to read. Unlike my MP3 player which I update weekly for podcasts, once I load up my 650 with a dozen books – why do I need to access the internet wirelessly? Huh?

    I also picked the 650 because of its touchscreen interface. I love it. At my local Best Buy I tested the Nook and I thought the Nook interface was very confusing. Maybe I’m dense but I was completely confused by its two-screen approach (big eInk screen for reading and little color screen for some navigation.) I played with the Kindle (it was not a live unit) and it felt very cheap and I didn’t care for the internet access. So I opted for the Sony touchscreen (at a premium price) over the Kindle.

    Overall I like the Sony interface – my one big complaint is the absence of a direct ‘back-up’ button when you are accessing footnotes or some other part of the book. You can use the ‘history’ feature. But I would think that if you access a footnote by taping on the footnote number, you should be able to return the original paragraph by tapping on the footnote number again. That needs to be fixed.

    I also like the size of the 650. It is light weight, easy to hold and easy to turn pages by swiping finger or pushing the buttons. It is small enough to easily fit in the inside pocket of a jacket. It also fits (I better be careful though) in the back pocket of my jeans. I did not seriously consider the IPad because of its large size, high cost, and shorter battery life. Though it is a beautiful thingy).

    I’ve been using the Calibre program to manage my eBooks rather than the default Sony application. Calibre allows you to convert eBook formats and manage lots of tasks regardless of the source of the eBook. Sony (like Apple’s ITunes) trys to force you to use their software. So Calibre is a great escape plan from Sony’s universe. I bought the device – I didn’t want to get married to Sony (or to Apple).

    Overall, I am very happy with my selection of the 650 over other available eReaders.

    I think the 650’s ‘reading experience’ is excellent for reading novels or other books that are nearly 100% text.

    I think the 650’s ‘reading experience’ is very poor for reading books that have a significant amount of pictures, maps, tables, figures, etc. It is just very clumsy to navigate back and forth. And the screen is not large enough to handle many pictures or maps.

    [PS you can also listen to audiobooks and podcasts on the 650. I haven’t done this much since I use an MP3 player for those uses. The 650 is too big (and expensive) to use in the same manner that I use my mp3 player. But perhaps on a long plane trip I may use the 650 for both eBooks and audiobooks.]

  138. Thanks for a fantastic review Janet! It’s great to read an independent review from someone that really owns and uses the device. It answered pretty much every question I could think of. I’ve been looking at e-readers for the last 3 years and waiting for them to get better and more affordable. It seemed they were always lacking features and/or just too darned expensive. I think the Sony Touch PRS-650 may must convice me to pull the trigger finally – with the help of your excellent review.

    My main last concern with the Sony readers was about the sealed-in battery. I still don’t see any justification for this – my cell phone doesn’t have a sealed battery so why does this reader need one? Just seems like some cynical control ploy by the Sony corporate empire. But if the battery lasts well and you can get an aftermarket one down the road – as one commenter noted – then it’s not a deal-breaker.

    I was wondering if there’s a way to take independent notes from a book to a text file on the reader? Sometimes when I’m reading a book I like to note down a choice quote (particularly from Jane Austen, for example) to memorize or use at some time or just because I like it. Ideally I’d do this to a txt file so I can add it to my collection. Is there a way to do this with 650? Often times when you come across a great quote you don’t have a pen and paper to hand, or they’re awkward to use – like when you’re standing on the bus e.g!

  139. Dear Janet,
    Thank you for the most informative and detailed review I have yet seen. I hesitate to add to your burden of questions, but I do have 2 questions that I hope you can help this technologically-challenged reader to answer:
    1. Other than the Sony store, what other ebookstores or sources of ebooks can one download books from? Is it at all possible to download books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Borders?
    2. How do book prices at the Sony store compare to the other sites, which advertise a large majority of their books priced at under $9.99?
    Thank you so much for your help, and keep on reading!

  140. @Carmel Thanks! I by my books exclusively from the Sony bookstore, and I find their prices are about the same as other ebook stores. Because of the increasing interest in ebooks, publishers are wanting to control the costs of their books. I find that most places charge about the same amount for a given book now because of this.

    Amazon books have a different protection scheme, so you can’t read them on anything but a Kindle or a device (computer, smartphone, iPod touch, iPad, etc) that has a Kindle reader application. To find other sources of books for your reader, I suggest you check out the MobileRead forums. This thread currently has four pages of discussions about sources of books for the Sony readers.

  141. Thanks to both of you, Mike and Janet! Now I just have to figure out what to do when these people on mobileread talk about “converting” the format. Might be easy for them, but I’m technologically challenged. That’s why I’m liking the Sony e-reader – even I could figure it out in the store, it seems to be very intuitive.

  142. Je viens de me procurer un Sony PRS 650.
    Je ne sais pas comment on télécharge un livre sur mon Mac
    Si quelqu’un peut m’indiquer la démarche, je le (la) remercie chaleureusement.

  143. I spent over a month evaluating so many ereaders and decided the 650 was the best currently available, so I bought 2, one for me and one for my wife. Hers was for Christmas, so I had to hide mine while using it for 2 weeks. Best out there in terms of quality and available formats etc.

  144. hello, and i have to say you really are a life saver in my case. i am a college students and book prices are just killing me so i got the sony ereader 600 series but im going crazy tring to find the right books and finally i found them but im getting mixed reports on whether they will work on my sony or not so my question to you is will amazon ebooks, barnes and noble ebooks, or borders ebooks work if i buy them

  145. @Andrew You can read ePub files and PDF files on the Sony only if they are compatible with the Adobe DRM scheme used by Sony or if they are DRM-free. I know that the Amazon books cannot be read on the Sony readers. The DRM schemes used by Barnes and Noble probably won’t work, but I’m not sure about the Borders scheme. You can probably find the answers to these questions at MobileRead forums for the Sony reader.

  146. Happy New Year Janet! My daughter loves her Touch Pocket Edition! 🙂 @Andrew I have ordered 4 books from and have had absolutely no issue putting them on My Sony PRS 350. You could buy one of the inexpensive books (under $5) on their site just to try it out. Good luck! Thanks again Janet!

  147. I have a PRS650 and liked it so much bought my daughter one for Xmas. We have tried to transfer books from my library onto her e-reader – unsuccessfully. I first transferred three books from my library after authorizing her e-reader on my computer. This worked fine but when she tried to order books off her own computer she had to authorize her reader to her computer (which makes sense) and now she has lost the books that i already transferred. We went back to my library to try and transfer them again but the reader says we cannot as her e-reader told her they cannot be transferred as the contents are protected. I cannot transfer my books from my library to her e-reader. Any suggestions?

  148. I received the Sony PRS 650 for Christmas. When I went to resume reading the current book I am into, it has the message
    “Protected by Digital Rights Management” What does this mean and how do I get rid of it?
    So far, this is the only problem I have come across and I hope someone can help!

  149. @Kim Pressey Happy New Year! I’m so glad your daughter likes her reader! And thanks for the info about the Borders bookstore. I’ve always found what I was looking for at the Sony bookstore, so I haven’t ever ventured to any other bookstore.

  150. @Pierrette A reader can be authorized to only one account at a time. You cannot have books purchased by different people in different accounts on a reader. The only way the two of you can share books is if you share a single account.

    An account can have up to six devices authorized to read books, so you could authorize both readers, your computer, and her computer to a single account. Of course, you can only have one credit card on the account, so you’ll have to work out how the books get paid for if you share an account.

  151. @Joan It sounds like you have somehow lost authorization or you have a problem with your reader. I suggest you contact customer support for the Sony bookstore. I’ve called them a few times, and I’ve always gotten help from them.

  152. @Règle Il existe une version du logiciel de Sony pour Mac. Accéder au site librairie Sony pour télécharger une copie. (Traduit par Google.)

    [There is a version of the Sony software for Mac. Go to the Sony bookstore website to download a copy. (Translated by Google.)]

  153. Has anyone had problems with their Sony PRS 650 ereader? My daughter and I got one for Christmas and we both experienced the same problem with books that we purchased. When you exit out of the book- turn the reader off and then come back in to read the book it tells you that you don’t have the media rights to read the book. If you exit out of that book go into another one and then come back it will allow you to read it, but all your bookmarks will be lost and you will have to start at the beginning again.

    Sony is aware of the problem and is attempting to find a fix for it.

  154. Janet
    Hoping you can help me. I bought a Sony PRS 650 recently and would like to know how I can view what I have saved to my SD memory card when I use my e-reader.
    I can view and transfer books and audio on the SD card when my e-reader is connected to my computer, but when I disconnect I cannot view the content of my SD memory card.
    Keep up the good work

  155. @Hugh I don’t use a memory card in my readers, but I don’t believe you can view the a listing of the contents of a memory card directly. I believe the content of the card will be listed along with the content in internal storage and identified only with a little icon with “MS” or “SD” inside it. The PRS-650 user’s guide talks about using the memory cards. The manual can be found in your reader.

  156. Janet
    Thanks for your speedy response. I’ve now found under ‘settings’ and then ‘info’ I can see how much of my internal & external memory I’ve used. I have also synced my music to my SD card only and it shows as normal on my e-book under ‘applications’ / ‘audio’.

  157. @romeo PDB files aren’t supported, but if you download Calibre, you can convert your existing PDB files to a format that the reader will support. Search online for details on how to accomplish this; I don’t remember the exact process that I followed.

    @Janet I am finally following up on a comment I made about trying to “write a novel” using the text memo option. The short version: it’s too frustrating.

    The long version: I found some great fingertip stylii that helped me improve my typing speed and accuracy and after a few tests, got into a good typing rhythm. Unfortunately, the PRS-650 is designed for reading, not writing, and my typing speed was too fast for the device. It froze on me and I lost some work. If you type slowly, the system won’t freeze up on you, but if you have to type that slow, you might as well use a pen and paper instead.

    I will probably continue to use the text memo for some writing, but I will remember to type slowly and save (press Done) my work regularly to reduce loss.

  158. Hi Janet,

    First of all, I would like to thank you: what a wonderful review! I’m a Humanities dreggree student and I’m supposed to read a lot (I mean, A LOT!) so I was looking for any gadget that let me read PDF (almost all my docent texts are on this format) on the go. I have a question on this matter: how does the Sony 650 manage all text PDFs? I mean, can you change the font size, like it was an ePUB? I don’t like how the Kindle manage this files, it treats them like an image or a photo. Have this gadget a better managemet?

    Thanks again for your fantastic review, and greetings from Spain!

  159. Hi Dave Thank you so much for your kind words. As for all-text PDFs, you can’t exactly change the font size. You don’t have to use the Zoom In function to increase the size, though. With Zoom In, you’d have to pan around the page to read it. With an all-text PDF, you use the font selectors to increase the size of the text. It makes everything bigger, but it doesn’t reformat the text to make the page flow nicely. It’s very readable, but not formatted as nicely as an ePub file would be. Hope this helps.

  160. Thanks, Janet, It helps a lot. You mean that you can increase the font text so you don’t have to pan to read, although it loses the alignement format.
    That’s a fact I’ll keep in mind to do my purchase. Lots of thanks again.

  161. Hi Janet!
    Like a couple of others have mentioned here – I bought my Sony 650 because of your detailed info here! I love it! One question though … I used to read PDFs on my laptop until I got myself an ereader! I loved being able to create folders where I keep books of different genres and another which I move books to once I’ve read them. I have over 400 already on my laptop so it makes it easier! How can I do this on my ereader?
    Thanks for your help!

  162. @Amanda I’m glad you like your reader. You can’t have folders, but you can do something similar with collections. You can read about collections briefly in the review above and in the manual, which you can find on your reader. You can create collections in the Sony software for your computer. You can also create and modify them on the reader itself.

  163. ferit: The ‘scanned’ ones which are just image files leave a lot to be desired on eInk devices, in my experience. You’d be better off reading those on a computer, or even an iPad via GoodReader.

    Janet: Did you ever get a chance to try the PRS-350 and compare it to the PRS-650? The PRS-600 was nice and speedy… except for the glare off the screen. The PRS-350 looks great in person… but I’m wondering if there’s enough of a speed difference between the two in reading EPUB files to make the choice more a question of screen-size versus performance, the way the choice between the PRS-300 and PRS-600 was (the latter being much faster at turning pages).

  164. @Haesslich I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on a PRS-350. I’m sorry I can’t provide any info about how it compares to the 650.

  165. Roger. I’ve used both in the stores… and I’m wondering how much of a difference the extra 1″ makes in regular ePub files, especially given that I woudn’t need the expandable storage as much as some people who have a lot of graphics-heavy reading material.

  166. I have both the 6″ (PRS-505) and 5″ (PRS-350) readers but I found out that I use the smaller PRS-350 most of the time. It’s more mobile and fits into an average inside pocket of a jacket which the 505 does not. As I’m only reading text novels in epub format, I don’t need the extra screen space of the 6″ readers but if you plan to read a lot of pdf based books, the extra inch may be useful.
    I think in terms of speed there is no difference between PRS-650 and PRS-350 as they came out at the same time. The 350 is much faster than my old 505.

  167. Juergen: Thanks for the heads up. I tried them both in the Sony Store… and like you said, they’re basically the same speed-wise now, versus the slow response of the PRS-300 compared to its bigger brother. Also the display options appear to be basically the same (perhaps to allow their software engineers to standardize the releases, minus the Audio Player part), and they’re both pretty sluggish with even text PDF’s like the user guide they come with.

    The 5″ screen looks decent – it’s not full paperback sized, but that’s why you have the extra font-sizes… which the PRS-300 lacked compared to the 600, but which are identical between the 350 and 650. No expandable storage, but I don’t have a lot of graphics-heavy books. That’s where iPads come into their own. 😉

  168. Janet – thank you for your thorough review. It is a really useful How To guide and was a great help when deciding what to buy. Perhaps Sony should be asking you to write their instruction manuals?

  169. Dear Janet,

    My daughters has a Sony PRS650. She encounters this same problem every time she turns it on. The book always takes her to the home page where she needs to choose her current book to continue reading. Then this message pops up. The screen comes up with a message saying “Protected by Digital Rights Management” and a black circle with a line thru it. She now needs to open another one of her books in her library – close it then go back to her current book. However it has now lost its bookmark so she needs to find her last page again. I am not sure why this is happening all the time. I had this happen with mine a few times but lately it has not happened. Any suggestions?

  170. @Pierrette Prince I haven’t had that problem happen on my reader. I’m sorry but I don’t know what could be happening. I would first try to restart my reader if I had that problem. If that doesn’t clear things up, I would call Sony customer service. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  171. hey… i hav many HTML n CHM files.. do they get supported in prs 650. how do they look like?? just like d PDF or different?

  172. Janet Cloninger

    @prem They aren’t supported. Look in the Hardware Specifications in the review for a list of supported files.

  173. Thanks for the review I found it very useful. I have a thing for red too and got a red reader for X-Mas! I love reading books on this and it doesn’t leave you with a nasty bruise if you fall asleep whilst reading and it whacks you in the face! Like you, I have an iPad which I love but I do find it quite heavy and tiring on the eyes if you are reading for a long time. Because this reader is so small it fits inside my iPad case so I can have both gadgets with me at all times!I have also added an audiobook to the reader, it sounds quite good but unfortunately you cannot “bookmark” them the same way you can with an iPod/iPad. I know the Kindle is cheaper and probably has some better features but I would highly recommend this item – I’ve always been a Sony fan so it was my first choice when I started dropping hints that I was interested in getting an eReader!

  174. @Kathy Monk Glad you like your reader! I’m one of those people who don’t find it tires my eyes to read on an iPad, and I’ve read a lot of books on it. I do carry my Sony PRS-T1 reader in my purse, so I can read anywhere I find myself.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *