Sony plans a Kindle rival with wireless downloads

Sony Corp. unveiled its answer Tuesday to Inc.'s Kindle 2: a wireless electronic book reader with a diagonal 7-inch touch screen that's 17% larger than Amazon's device.

Until now, Kindle has claimed an edge over Sony's existing models by having a built-in wireless Internet connection that lets users browse, buy and download books from Amazon's online store without having to plug into a computer. The Kindle uses Sprint's wireless broadband network to access the Internet.

Sony hopes its new wireless device, dubbed the Daily Edition, will trump Kindle 2 in one key respect: the ability for users to turn pages, scribble notes and navigate through menus by way of a touch screen.

The Sony device's black-and-white display is larger than the Kindle 2's 6-inch screen but smaller than the Kindle DX's screen, which is 9.7 inches, diagonally.

The Daily Edition, priced at $399, is slated to ship in December, in time for the holiday gift-giving season.

The Japanese consumer electronics company also announced a "pocket-sized" reader earlier this month. At $199, Sony's Pocket Edition will be the lowest-priced reader on the market when it ships at the end of this month. Amazon's Kindle 2 costs $299, and its DX costs $489.

Sony's readers have another feature that's not present in the Kindle: All of the devices are capable of displaying digital books that have been borrowed from thousands of public libraries that lend electronic books.

The Daily Edition goes one step further by finding local libraries with a digital-books collection that let users wirelessly download the book for 21 days -- provided they have a library card for that particular library.

"We continue to add more value every day for folks who have a Sony Reader," said Steve Haber, head of Sony's digital-books business.


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