Sony Reader PRS-T3 review

11 Oct 2013

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

Price when reviewed: 
100(£99 inc VAT)
3

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £83
Price inc VAT £100
Overall rating 3
Performance 3
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3

Screen

Screen size 6.0in
Resolution 758 x 1024
Colour screen no
Touchscreen yes
eBook screen-refresh time 0.7 seconds

Battery

Integrated memory 2.0GB
Memory-card type microSD

Dimensions

Dimensions 109 x 11.3 x 160mm (WDH)
Weight 200g

File format support

Plain text yes
PDF yes
EPUB yes