Sony eReader Touch PRS-600

I pre-ordered this a few weeks ago when I learned it would be shipping after 8/31/09. Imagine my surprise when it showed up on Friday 8/28!

I had gone back and forth between what eReader to buy: Kindle or Sony. I have been watching Kindle since it first came out around two years ago. I compared it with the Sony eReader 505 and 700 and decided I would get the 700. When I finally decided to just take the plunge, I found the 700 was no long available. Instead, the two that would be available were the PRS-300 Pocket version and the PRS-600 Touch version.

Before I continue, I must confess that I am a huge fan. I have always gotten exceptional service with them. Even when I’ve had to contact customer service, I’ve always gotten considerate, helpful, and prompt treatment. Given a choice, I nearly always pick Amazon. So why didn’t I pick Amazon this time? Choice. I like knowing I have other options. Granted, Amazon is usually the most cost effective (lower prices, often free shipping, etc.). I love my iPod and am generally happy with iTunes software. But if I’m given a choice, I’ll buy my music from Amazon because their digital music can be played on more than just the iPod—I may one day go with another MP3 player—and is DRM-free.

Because of this, I do not understand why Amazon made their e-books proprietary when everywhere else the company subverts proprietary systems. I go to Amazon because I want to, not because I have to, and in the end, that was the biggest reason why I did not choose Kindle. I do not want to be stuck with Kindle if I invest money in a digital library. It’s the library people want to invest in, not the hardware we use to read it! The same goes for our music collections. It’s bad enough I bought ebooks via that can only be viewed on a Palm platform (for instance). I don’t use a Palm OS phone anymore so these books I paid for are virtually unusable. Argh! Note: would be awesome if they would open their formats to other versions—same with Mobipocket. I know Mobipocket is owned by Amazon, but still . . . usable by most other eReaders except Sony? Get real.

The Sony eReaders claim to support different eReader formats, such as ePUB, PDF, and RTF. I am not an expert on gadgets or various formats out there in the industry, so forgive me if I leave something out. This is just a regular person’s perspective based on what (little) I can find on the PRS-300 and PRS-600.

Which brings me to my next point, and in some way, I can only blame myself. I’m having a problem with syncing up certain PDFs/ePUBs to my Touch. This is why I don’t normally buy something that is so new. I like to wait until there’s more documentation out there (yes, I use info sites to help with quests when I play MMORPGs too). When I first noticed the problem, I thought it was just a sync issue in general on Sunday morning. I set the thing to sync and waited an hour only to see the sync stuck in processing mode. I left to go to a friend’s birthday brunch and when I came home . . . still stuck in processing mode. I rebooted the computer and tried again. Still stuck processing. Hmm. This didn’t happen earlier on Saturday when I synced up with books I bought at Sony’s ebook store or the Google ePUB free books, nor did it happen when I synced up a couple of freebie PDF comics. Going to Sony’s site didn’t really help. The online chat tech was very courteous, but the suggestion to uninstall eLibrary while in safe mode, then reinstall, didn’t work, and, might I add, doing anything in safe mode, much less getting to safe mode, is a frustrating endeavor.

So, back to troubleshooting by myself. I had previously deleted the excerpts that came installed on my Touch because they were in German. Fortunately, I hadn’t deleted them from my Library on my computer. I transferred them back via the old drag and drop process and it transferred instantly. I tested it with some of my own pictures. Instant success. I tried it with Wil Wheaton’s Sunken Treasures I downloaded from Lulu for five bucks: stuck. I tried it with Cindy Jack’s Red Shoes Collection from Freya’s Bower: stuck. The same with Cindy Jack’s Point of Distraction from Lyrical Press: stuck. Both version’s of the latter book—EPUB and PDF—stuck. I can view the books using the eLibrary software, I just can’t get it to sync onto my Touch. I’m pretty confident there’s a fix for this or there will be, but I’m bummed because I specifically waited to check out these books until I got an eReader. I love the idea of supporting small press—something I one day hope to be a part of.

If anyone out there has some advice for me, I’d appreciate it. Otherwise, I’ll do my best to wait patiently for a fix if this is, indeed, and unintended bug of Sony’s (or Lulu, or Lyrical Press, or Freya’s Bower).

I don’t want to end this review on a negative note. After all, this is a brand spankin’ new product, there’s bound to be issues that need to be resolved. Anyone who plays MMORPGs at first release (or after a new extensive update/patch) knows this very well. So . . .

There’s some really neat features with the PRS-600 Touch:

  • I can hand write notes with the stylus. Yes, even in today’s keyboard driven society, sometimes it really is easier to just write something by hand. I can also type a note with the handy keyboard on the touch screen if I don’t want to write by hand.
  • When I want to turn the page, I can sweep my thumb right or left, much like I do with my Samsung Instinct, or others do with their iPhones. I can also use the buttons at the bottom of the reader.
  • While eInk technology is still only available in black and gray, a good quality picture looks just as good in the reader.
  • The reader also plays MP3s if headphones are used (and sounds very nice), so I can listen to music while reading. When I read, I’m pretty good at tuning out the rest of the world no matter how loud (just ask my roommates who would have band practice then ask for my opinion on how it sounded. Me: “You were playing?” Them: “. . .” Neighbors: “I hate practice nights.”), but sometimes it is nice to have my choice of noises going on in the background. I plan to load it up with easy listening music—something like Judas Priest, maybe?
  • I can highlight text in the book I’m reading and it will be saved as a text memo. I haven’t played with this too much but I am very much interested in this feature because in the past I’ve always been frustrated when I’d want to remember something I just read and of course, didn’t have paper/pen handy to take care of it.
  • There’s a dictionary handy. This will be very useful the next time I read Foucault’s Pendulum.
  • I can change orientation if I want, from portrait to landscape.
  • This thing is is thin! It will be MUCH easier to put this in my purse. Any purse I buy must be able to hold a paperback in a book cover as well as other key items. The Touch makes my purse options that much more open.
  • Zoom in/out. This doesn’t work so well on some PDFs, especially comics, because zooming in makes the text go away, but this is a PDF problem if I understand the information I’ve read about this. But otherwise, the zoom in/out feature is useful.
  • Speaking of PDFs, on the other hand, I understand that Sony’s eReaders handle PDFs better than Kindle. I’m not going into detail here, but if I find the link where the conversion process is explained and problems with it detailed, I’ll update this post.
  • I can check out books from the library. Because of Sony’s open format (a HUGE factor for me), I have more options on where I get my books, including if I want to take advantage of the public library.
  • When I can finally afford to go back to college, I can buy digital text books. Surely this has to be cheaper than the racket system currently in place.

I look forward to reading about other experiences with eReaders and learning more about what mine can do. By the way, I got mine in red. Yet one more (vanity) example of why choice is so important to me.

(ETA September 15, 2009: Check out my syncing success post for an update to my problem syncing small press items)


20 Responses to “Sony eReader Touch PRS-600”

  1. Mark Says:

    So, let me know what you decide to do about screen lighting. That’s my biggest current consideration, I like being able to read at night w/out having a light on on my bedside table.

  2. Cindy Jacks Says:

    Oh no! We can’t have my books getting stuck ;) I’ll check around with other owners of the Sony eReader to see if there’s a trick I can pass along! I have a Kindle so I’m no help, LOL.

  3. Leesa Says:

    Yay! I’m sure I’ll figure something out eventually. :)

  4. Leesa Says:

    I will likely get the Reader Cover With Light. It’ll serve two functions: added protection for the reader and the light. The former 700 version had a cover with a side light that fit over the reader itself so the whole page was illuminated without anything sticking up over the top of the device like the current cover available for the Touch. If something like that comes out in the near future, I’d definitely get that.

  5. Wilhelm Says:

    Thank you Leesa for telling us about the PRS-600.
    I want to buy one too, but will wait till the problem with the free e-books is solved. I am not interested in buying books, only interested in the free old classics.

  6. Leesa Says:

    Wilhelm, let me clarify: I’ve had no problems with the free old classics. They download to the eLibrary software and onto the eReader perfectly. In fact, within the eLibrary software that Sony offers, when you click store, there’s a link to the Google free ePUB books, so it’s very easy to find them. My problems were with some small press PDF versions that I bought, which I’m still troubleshooting.

  7. Wilhelm Says:

    Leesa, thank you for your response.
    Your answer will help me a lot in making my decision.

  8. Ellyn Says:

    Hi Leesa and thank you. I am attempting to set up the PRS-600 for my daughter but the software does not work for us – says it is our satellite internet service, which is our only option here on the farm. And so we downloaded adobe digital editions software and cannot even find the ebookstore only samples?? She is twelve, reads voraciously but Kindle is N/A for so far – we are Mac people but I wanted something larger for her than the iTouch – any help with great book stores for Canada that you know of??

  9. Leesa Says:

    Hello Ellyn. I will also send to you in email as I’m not sure if you’ll get notification that I’ve replied to your comment.

    I’m not sure about what’s out there for Canada. Here’s a link to a bookstore that I haven’t actually purchased from, but plan to in the next month or so (when my book allowance is big enough): Books On Board. This store has a Mac version.

    There’s a link where you can download a free book to test if their store will work for you—I believe you’ll want the Adobe ePub version.

    I found, but have not really looked around yet. I did see at the top of the page they offer books for Sony eReaders, so that’s worth looking into.

    Via the forums, I found a link to a French Canadian site, but the site was in French and I couldn’t tell if they offered an English equivalent.

    A lot of the ebook sites I’ve browsed I’ve discovered via word of mouth, and some of those probably aren’t age appropriate for your daughter.

    As I find sites that work for the Sony eReader, I will do my best to post them.

    If you can find a site that offers the books in PDF or ePUB, those are what are compatible. In theory.

    Good luck! I hope you find a good solution so your daughter can continue reading, reading, reading!

  10. Anne Says:

    Dear Leesa,

    thank you for sharing your experience. I notice that you got your eReader in red. This is something I am considering as well (pretty cool colour) but I am worry that the strong colour might be a distraction when reading. What is your experience with this?



  11. Leesa Says:

    Hi Anne,

    I haven’t found it distracting at all. I find it easy to get immersed in what I’m reading. What you might find more distracting are the people who ask about/comment on your reader. :) (Not that many people have really done this—usually wait staff when I’m at a restaurant.)

  12. Ellyn Says:

    Oh my 13 year old girly was absolutely thrilled this morning when she opened up her red eReader – Wow – she has two new 400 page books on it already and is set! Thanks Leesa for all of your help.


  13. Leesa Says:

    That’s great news, Ellyn. I know I love my eReader. I haven’t picked up a regular book since I got it, and I was in the middle for reading one! I may just have to buy it in ebook format so I can finish it.

    Did you happen to find any ebookstores that work in Canada?

  14. Ellyn Says:

    Yes I did find some stores – shortcovers has just started and so their books are limited but is perfect!

  15. Ridley Says:

    I’d suggest you download and install Calibre ( and use that to manage your library instead of the Sony library software. You’d still hit the eject button in the Sony program when it’s time to disconnect your reader, but do everything else in Calibre. I find it works much better than the Sony library.

    You can also convert file types in Calibre, provided the file is drm free (MS Reader .lit being the easiest to strip of drm to convert to .epub) which gives more shopping options.

  16. Leesa Says:

    Hey Ridley, thanks for the suggestion. I’ve heard of Calibre and will research some more. I especially like the ability to convert file types. Currently I use a combination of the Sony eReader Library and Adobe Digital Editions. I can only use the proprietary software to move things around in collections on my ereader itself. I haven’t figured out how to make Adobe Digital Editions do that.

  17. Monika Says:

    Thanks for your awesome review! I got this today and I’m pretty excited to get started with it. I was going to get the Pocket version but got sucked into the Touch. If I didn’t just buy Wicked. A Lion Among Men & Son of a Witch on paperback I’d already be downloading to my heart’s content. :)

  18. Hetal Says:

    Hi Leesa, thanx for the informative post. I had been longing for a reader since quite some time, did a lot of reading on the kindle as well as the PRS600 (neither of them available in India when I started my research). Finally had a frnd pickup the PRS from the US (in red :)) and absol love it. Have not installed the eReader library yet, just dragged and dropped the books. However this option works only for the pdf formats, .lit and msword files do not open with this option. Was wondering if you had tried out the Calibre as discussed in an earlier post. If yes, would love to knw your views.

  19. Leesa Says:

    Hi Hetal,

    I downloaded Calibre tonight and haven’t really played with it too much. I did subscribe to a news site to see if it looks better than the eLibrary’s version. I tried to convert some old books I bought when I had a Palm OS phone but Calibre told me it was DRM so wouldn’t convert, so it looks like I need to find a 3rd party software to strip the DRM.

    The tutorial for Calibre was very helpful and it looks like it will be a good alternative to Sony’s eLibrary, which can be very frustrating sometimes.

    Some pdf files I’ve tried won’t work. Like I downloaded chapters from for the Heat Wave book relating to the Castle series. I could read them on the software, just not on my book. I gave up and just bought the ebook, and that version works fine.

    There are so many great free books out there too. Even just checking out Sony’s store will net a lot of really great finds. also will offer a free ebook. A lot of the ebookstores have the same free books for sale, but careful browsing will reveal some unique finds.

    I’m still madly in love with my ereader. I reluctantly put it a way for about a week so I would force myself to finish a traditional book I was halfway through. I’m slowly going through my traditional bookshelf and weeding out books I’ve acquired that are now available in ebook format since it’s likely I won’t read them in the traditional way anymore.

    I’m glad you love your Touch. :)

  20. Hetal Says:

    Hey Leesa,
    Wishing you a very happy new year :)
    Read about the heatwave book and tried downloading it from ABC, faced a similar problem; tried 4shared and it works just fine.
    Problems I have faced with free ebooks at times are that the lib software does not pick up the correct title / author name, therefore keeping a track of books sometimes is a bit of a pain. Again the font size is too small and when I try increasing the size it is a bit to large requiring frequent turning of pages. But I guess most of these are teething troubles, will find a way around them sooner or later.
    The one thing that I miss with the e-book is the way a crisp new book feels and smells:)

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