New Sony Reader has touch display, note-taking stylus

NEW YORK -- Sony unveiled a new e-book reader Thursday with a built-in light and a touch-sensitive display, features that set it apart from's competing Kindle reader.

The PRS-700 is Sony's third model of the Reader, and will go on sale at the end of the month for about $400. It represents further experimentation on the part of manufacturers trying to find the right formula to make e-book readers more than a niche product. Neither Sony nor Amazon have revealed sales figures for their readers.

Like the earlier models and the Kindle, the PRS-700 has a six-inch screen of "electronic ink," which presents dark gray text on a light gray background. Unlike the liquid-crystal displays of laptops and cell-phones, e-ink displays cannot be lit from behind, but the PRS-700 has light-emitting diodes that can be turned on to illuminate the screen from the sides.

The 10-ounce device also comes with a stylus, which can be used to highlight text or make handwritten notes. It can hold 350 books in its internal memory, and more in a memory card.

The PRS-700 does not have an equivalent of the Kindle's signature feature: wireless access to Amazon's e-book store for near-instant book downloads. Instead, books are loaded on to the device by connecting it to a PC.

Steve Haber, president of Sony's Digital Reading Business Division, said the company aims to have a wireless version, but it would have to work with multiple book vendors.

While the Kindle downloads books only from Amazon's store, Sony is differentiating itself by de-emphasizing its own store and opening up its Readers to e-books from other vendors.