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Sony Reader PRS-T3 review

Verdict

A good-looking ebook reader, with attractive features, but it fails to back up its steep price

Review Date: 11 Oct 2013

Reviewed By: Bobby MacPherson

Price when reviewed: £83 (£100 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

Sony has been in the ebook reader market at least as long as Amazon has in the UK, but its products have never been as popular as its big rival’s. The latest Sony PRS-T3 seems unlikely to change that, but it’s certainly an attractive device.

Thanks to a softly curved back, diminutive 160 x 11.3 x 109mm (WDH) size and handy buttons found on the bottom bezel, the Sony Reader PRS-T3 is both lithe and capable of comfortable, one-handed use. Unusually, it also has a built-in cover, which adds very little to the overall bulk, and it comes in white, black and a fetching rosé red.

Sony PRS-T3 Reader

When closed, this cover places the reader in a handy, automatic sleep mode, and also has a magnetic latch to keep it from flapping open. Under the cover is a 758 x 1,024 E Ink touchscreen, which matches its chief rival, the market-leading Amazon Paperwhite, for sharpness. It’s all good stuff; but here it starts to unravel.

The first problem is that it has no form of built-in LED light. That’s a disappointing omission in a modern ebook reader, especially one at this price, and although a case with an integrated light can be purchased separately, this adds significantly to the cost at a hefty £60 inc VAT.

Due to this, the PRS-T3’s screen doesn’t benefit from the tremendous contrast between clean page and bold text that the Paperwhite’s light delivers. It isn’t unpleasant to look at or uncomfortable to read on, but pages on this Sony reader look dull and insipid in comparison.

On the positive side, the PRS-T3’s UI is attractive and simple to navigate, with recently bought titles displayed at the top of the homepage, and bookshelf, store and app icons bold at the bottom. It supports EPUB files so, while titles aren’t quite as numerous or cheap in the Sony Reader Store as on Amazon, you can upload books from a much wider range of sources, including WHSmith and Waterstones.

Sony PRS-T3 Reader

Other features include access to Facebook and a lacklustre web browser – both rendered unattractive by the PRS-T3’s drab, monochrome screen – and much more useful Evernote and Sketchpad apps; great for revision and a good showcase for the PRS-T3’s optical touchscreen, which allows you to use a passive stylus (not included) to make notes and draw scribbles.

The PRS-T3’s biggest problem, though, is that the touchscreen simply isn’t very good. Often it will take several finger taps to open a new page, and several swipes to turn the page or scroll up and down, the touchscreen only registering bold, deliberate movements. However, once the PRS-T3 does register touchscreen activity, its load speed is comparable to the Paperwhite, with a page-refresh rate of a rapid 0.7 second, only 0.1 second behind its competitor.

The Sony PRS-T3 is a sleek, attractive ebook reader, which delivers good access to a range of EPUB format titles, and has a few enticing extras. However, it’s marred by its lack of a built-in light and unresponsive touchscreen. At only £10 more, we’d choose the Paperwhite every time.

Author: Bobby MacPherson

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User comments

I've heard that the light is £40 rather £60 (maybe you were thinking of the widely quoted $60). The biggest problem for me is that despite being ridiculously expensive, video reviews of the light show it illuminating only the top half of the screen. I use my 350 for proof reading and annotation and no other ereader line does this as well as Sony does. Guess I'll be waiting for the t4 to upgrade.

I've seen the t2 for £80, much better value.

We're you able to use overdrive to download books directly from library websites?

By JamesD29 on 11 Oct 2013

I don't get it...

Why would people need access to Facebook or a web browser on an eReader?

Is it an eReader or a tablet? Why have all the extra bells and whistles when all people need an eReader for is to read books... am I missing something here?
People have access to Facebook through their phones, tablets and PC if that is not enough and people feel they need Facebook whilst they read a novel too it is a very sad world we live in.
Drop Facebook and the crummy web browser and then drop the price, then you might have a decent chance against the Kindle.

By Gazbuscus on 11 Oct 2013

@Gazbuscus

I think it is part of the whole 'socialisation' of technology. Look at me, I just finished war and peace! Or read this part of Jimmy Carr's new book, lol etc etc.

Could actually be useful for study group pages but that's rather niche.

By JamesD29 on 11 Oct 2013

but its products have never been as popular as its big rival’s

older models had no wi-fi, terrible brightness controls and the screens were not quite as good as the contemporary Kindle. They were well built though.

By Alfresco on 11 Oct 2013

@Alfrescp

They are well built. It some fairly serious abuse from my two year old to crack the plastic surround on my 350. Still works but slides out of the case (which despite my reservations turned out to be more sturdy than the ereader).

By JamesD29 on 11 Oct 2013

The note taking and annotation is one thing they do better than everyone else. Until someone (besides amazon) does, stuck buying them.

By JamesD29 on 11 Oct 2013

Focusing on wrong things

I'd happily trade facebooks, browsers and backlights (reading lit screen in dark room is bad for eyes anyway) for an inch or two of screen size. All readers on the market offer screen half size of a regular paperback, it's a joke.

By radnor on 11 Oct 2013

like it, but...

I am almost happy with my Sony Reader, but what was one of my main reasons for buying it, has turned out to be a bit of a hassle. The infrared touchscreen.
Every time a little insect choses the screen to settle itself on, the screen go bananas.
Pages turn forward and back in quick succession and several words are opened in the dictionary, all at one time.
I would like to be able to turn this feature off.
One thing for sure. My next reader wil be without infrared touchscreen.

By Christensen on 13 Oct 2013

@radnor

Take a look at the Kobo Aura HD - I have one of these and it will show a full paperback size page at readable text size. It will also show most A4 PDF files in portrait readable at full width (though you have to scroll vertically).

Note that this (like most ereaders) has a front-light not a backlight which is much easier on the eyes (if not the battery).

By JohnAHind on 14 Oct 2013

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