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Sony Unveils 3rd-Gen. Reader

New York — Sony debuted its third-generation Sony Reader digital book, the PRS-700, last evening.

The unit features an interactive touch screen display allowing users to turn pages with the swipe of a finger and a

built-in LED reading light; both are firsts for the Reader line. It was unveiled at a press event here at the Library Hotel.

The PRS-700 will join the existing PRS-505 model on the market next month, carrying a suggested retail of about $400.

Like its predecessor, it features a textured black casing and a soft black cover. It weighs about 10 ounces and features the line’s high-resolution, high-contrast electronic-paper display technology.

The PRS-700’s touch screen display measures 6 inches. In addition to its new touch-related features, the device also allows a reader to search for terms within a document or book, create notes using the virtual keyboard and highlight text with the included stylus pen.

The device comes with five preset text sizes and also offers users the ability to zoom in by tapping the screen.

In terms of memory, the PRS-700 is said to the capacity to store about 350 digital books; however, that capacity can be expanded with the use of optional removable Memory Stick Duo media or SD memory cards.

The battery reportedly allows continuous reading of up to 7,500 pages on a single charge.

The device supports multiple formats for eBooks, personal documents and music, which are uploaded to the device via an included USB cable. The included eBook Library 2.5 PC software is said to allow for the easy transfer of Adobe PDF documents, Microsoft Word documents and other text file formats to the Reader. It can also store and display EPUB files and will work with Adobe Digital Editions software.

One notable feature still missing from the line is wireless functionality, a key selling point for the Reader’s main competitor, Amazon’s Kindle. Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading business division, addressed this omission at last evening’s event.

“Yes, we will launch a wireless Reader,” he said without providing any specifics as to when the device might appear on the market. He simply said the company would not introduce a wireless Reader until it was able to provide an “open platform” wireless device that could download and display books from a wide variety of sources.

To complement the launch of the latest Reader, Sony has launched its “Reader Revolution” campaign and has moved to update its eBook store with a revised layout, a “streamlined checkout process” and updated search tools. Haber said the site currently has about 50,000 titles in stock but that his team was working with the goal of increasing the amount of titles to 100,000 in time for the holidays.