Sony Reader Redesign: Smaller, Lighter, but Not Cheaper

Sony Reader Redesign: Smaller, Lighter, but Not Cheaper
Sony Reader Redesign: Smaller, Lighter, but Not Cheaper

Sony (SNE) unveiled a refreshed lineup of its e-book Readers on Wednesday that features a lighter and smaller model, and adds touchscreen displays to all three models. But while Sony's new designs take a page or two from the competition, its heftier price tags don't.

Sony is rolling out a 7-inch touchscreen Reader Daily Edition that adds WiFi to the mix. The Daily Edition, which also comes with the capability to link to AT&T's (T) 3G network, carries a hefty price tag of $299, whereas competitors with similar designs cost significantly less: Barnes & Noble's (BKS) nook 3G & WiFi sells for $199. Amazon's (AMZN) 3G-WiFi Kindle is the cheapest at $189, but it doesn't offer a touchscreen like the Reader or nook.

Sony's strategy apparently runs counter to the trend toward bargain basement pricing, which has been driven by the frenzied fight for market share between Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But as we head into the critical holiday selling crunch amid the ongoing economic slowdown, it'll be interesting to see whether Sony drops the price points on its shiny new Readers.

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"The success of our previous line of Readers illustrates book lovers' demand for feature choices and full touch screens on their digital reading devices," Phil Lubell, Sony Electronics digital reading vice president, said in a statement. As a result, Sony is adding full touchscreens to even its smallest Reader.

Sony's new Reader Pocket Edition features a 5-inch touch screen and includes 2 GB of storage like its other two readers. The price tag on this puppy is $179, which is steeper than the nook's WiFi only version at $149.

The electronic giant is also debuting its new Reader Touch edition, which features a 6-inch touch display and dual expansion slots to beef up the memory to 32 GB. The reader also moonlights as an MP3 player and can play AAC audio files. Its cost? $229.