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Sony Takes On Kindle With Two New E-Readers
Sony plans to launch on Wednesday two new versions of its electronic reader, taking direct aim at the Amazon Kindle.
The Reader Pocket Edition and Reader Touch Edition are scheduled to go on sale at the end of the month and cost $199 and $299, respectively, a person who had been briefed on Sony's plans told InformationWeek Tuesday. The Pocket Edition will have a five-inch diagonal display, and the Touch Edition, which will have a touch-sensitive screen for navigating through books, will sport a six-inch screen, which is the same size as the older Sony Reader.
Sony also plans to lower the prices of best-selling e-books to $9.99 from $11.99, matching Amazon's prices for books purchased for the Kindle. Bookseller Barnes & Noble recently lowered the pricing for books on eReader.com to match that of Amazon's. Barnes & Noble acquired the online e-book store earlier in the year through the acquisition of Fictionwise.
The new Sony e-readers will use the same E-Ink screen technology that's in the Kindle and older Sony Reader. The technology provides high-quality black-and-white text and images that can be seen even in direct sunlight. Both devices will have enough internal memory to store about 350 books, and a battery life of about two weeks.
The Touch Edition's screen will enable the user to turn pages, highlight text or type notes on a virtual keyboard using a finger or a stylus, which can also be used to take handwritten notes. The device will also include expansion slots for an SD card or a Memory Stick Pro Duo.
One feature missing from the devices that's available with the Kindle is a wireless connection. Amazon uses the feature to enable users to buy books directly from the retailer. The Sony devices will use software loaded onto a Windows PC or Mac to organize and download e-books.
Amazon also makes a larger e-reader called the Kindle DX. The device has a 9.7-inch screen for easier reading of letter-size documents. Amazon sells the DX for $489, and the six-inch Kindle for $299.
Sony is releasing the new devices as the popularity of the Kindle grows. Amazon won't say how many of the devices it has sold, but claims it accounts for 35% of book sales for those editions in which Kindle versions are available.
In releasing the Kindle, Amazon proved there is a market for e-books and readers. Besides Sony, the retailer will face competition in the future from startup Plastic Logic, which is planning to start selling a device similar to the Kindle DX in the second half of the year.
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