The Sony Reader PRS-350 is a compact, stylish and well designed device. Combining a simple design with a small form factor means that those previously put off from buying an e-book reader may reconsider, especially frequent business travellers.
The lack of internet and 3G connectivity is a noticeable downside compared to the Kindle 2, but the Reader more than holds its own in all other areas
Well designed; lightweight and compact chassis; easy to use; long battery life; good format support
No memory expansion options; no wireless or 3G connection; more expensive that Kindle 2 with Wi-Fi and 3G
5in display (800 x 600), 16-level greyscale, 2GB memory, 104.3mm (W) x 145mm (H) x 8.5mm (D), 155g, touch screen, stylus, Word, PDF, JGP, GIF files supported, among others
The battle to change the world's reading habits continues to hot up, and Sony's new pocket-sized e-book reader is the latest to enter the fray, going up against tablets and dedicated devices like Amazon's Kindle.
The Sony Reader PRS-350 is unique because of its compact size, which the company hopes will make it a key selling point, and is presumably why it costs £159, more than any versions of the Kindle.
It certainly is small, measuring 104.3 x 145 x 8.5mm and weighing just 155g, meaning it fits easily into a jacket pocket and is barely heavier than an iPod or smartphone.
The design is nice too, with a sleek silver casing housing the screen, and five large buttons on the bottom clearly labelled with images. The buttons feel a bit plasticky, but they responded instantly during testing.
A pink version is also available, but we find it hard to imagine many business executives going for this option.
The screen measures just 5in which is more than enough to enjoy a good reading experience as the pages are displayed well. Almost all the screen is used up, leaving little wasted space at the edges. The 16-level greyscale screen has an adequate 800 x 600 resolution.
The PRS-350 has 2GB of memory built in, which is enough for roughly 1,200 books, but there's no external memory slots so you can't expand on this.
Where the device really stands out is the touch screen, something that the Kindle is sorely lacking. This means you can give the screen a quick flick to turn pages, operate menus and select text.
In general, we found the screen smooth and easy to use, although it didn't react instantly on some occasions, which caused an irritating second or so lag. This occurred very rarely, and didn't affect the overall experience too much.
The touch screen was excellent for the simple act of turning a page, working quickly and adding a nice sense of reading an actual book or document, rather than a digital version.
For those who don't get on with touch screens, the PRS-350 comes with a pen that can be used to navigate around the various options. The pen slots neatly away in the top right of the chassis when not in use.
The Oxford Dictionary of English is built in, allowing users to double tap on a word to see a short definition, which is a neat and helpful touch.
The screen also has a wealth of display options, including six zoom levels from extra small to extra large, as well as brightness, contrast and back level lighting adjustments. We found these more than adequate when finding suitable display settings for different environments.