When it comes to e-book readers, the jury is still out on what screen size is ideal. Until recently, consumers were pretty much limited to choosing between 6-inch models from Sony, Amazon, and a few lesser-known manufacturers. But now new e-readers are cropping up in both larger and smaller sizes, and Sony's 5-inch Reader Pocket Edition (PRS-300) is making a bid to capture a chunk of the nascent e-reader market.
As the entry-level model in Sony's 2009 e-book lineup, the comparatively diminutive PRS-300 has neither the touch screen that's found on the $300 PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition nor the built-in 3G cellular wireless connection of the $400 Reader Daily Edition and its archrival, the $300 Amazon Kindle.
This model also lacks expansion slots for more memory, annotation, and note-taking capabilities; a built-in dictionary; and the MP3 audio of its step-up siblings. But while the PRS-300 Reader Pocket Edition sticks to the basics, it has the most attractive price tag to date for a mainstream e-reader: $200. And unlike the Kindle, its use of the Epub file format opens the door to a variety of free content, including public domain Google Books downloads and titles that can be electronically checked out from many local libraries.