Sony introduced a new eReader lineup of lighter, slimmer models which all now feature an improved optical touchscreen, which Sony hopes will differentiate it from its rivals.
Heading into what is sure to be a cutthroat season in eReaders, where prices could easily drop to $79 for off-brand models, Sony is taking the high road when it comes to pricing.
It’s new line of E Ink Pearl-based Readers starts at $179 for the new 5-inch Pocket Edition with 2GB of memory, and steps up to $229 for the revamped Touch Edition with 2GB of memory and dual expansion slots. Instead of adding an extra screen layer to achieve touch screen capability (but also reduce screen clarity), the new touch screens uses infrared sensors at the edges of the device’s bezel to achieve the touch effect without the reduced clarity, said Forbes.
The top of the line Daily Edition with 3G and 7-inch screen now also gets WiFi and limited Web browsing capability. It has 2GB of memory, expansion slots, and improved battery life at $299.
Sony has taken a bold position in a fiercely competition market. It avoids completely the new segment of low cost WiFi readers where Amazon and Barnes & Noble recently staked their claims. Amazon’s WiFi Kindle is selling at $139 and B&N’s WiFi Nook at $149.
Sony’s line instead starts at $179 for a device with no WiFi but with the distinguishing feature of an advanced touch screen, which Sony says will drive sales.
Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading unit, said a touch screen is one of the top requests made by consumers. “Lowering prices to get cheaper and cheaper — that’s not our direction. Our plan is not to race to the bottom,” he told Reuters. Also consumers, when given an eReader automatically swipe the screen expecting it to offer touch capability, he told several news outlets.
Additionally, the company found that consumers were opting for its Touch Edition over its Pocket Edition, paying more for touch screen capability.
The 5-inch Pocket Edition and the Touch with a 6-inch screen and more memory and expansion card slots start shipping today. The Daily Edition will ship in November.
Source: Sony, Forbes, Reuters, Telegraph