Sony (NYSE: SNE) has officially announced its new e-reader, the details of which leaked out earlier this week. It’s called the Reader WiFi and will cost $149 in the U.S.
At $149, the touchscreen Reader WiFi will be more expensive than comparable Kindle, Nook and Kobo e-readers (the Nook Simple Touch Reader is $139, the Kobo eReader Touch is $129.99 and the ad-supported Kindle is $114). The Sony Reader’s main bragging point it is the “lightest e-reader ever,” at a little under six ounces. (The Nook weighs 7.8 ounces, the Kobo weighs 6.5 ounces and the Kindle weighs 8.5 ounces. Here’s our most recent chart comparing e-readers, which does not include the new Sony.)
UK tech site The Register had reported that the new Sony Reader would be bundled with all seven Harry Potter e-books, granting buyers exclusive early access, but the truth is less exciting: Buyers of “the black Reader Wi-Fi bundle” get a coupon for a free download of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “while supplies last.” The new Reader also comes in red and white. It’s unclear why the Harry Potter offer is limited to the black version.
The Reader WiFi is more integrated with libraries than other e-readers have been: “Reader Wi-Fi is the worlds’ first eReader that will allow you to borrow eBooks wirelessly from public libraries thanks to simple, seamless access on the device via an on-screen ‘Public Library’ icon,” the press release says. It’s unclear exactly how that will work; users need a library card and presumably also need to belong to a library that supports wireless downloads.
Sony is expanding its Reader Store to Europe, “coming first to the UK, Germany and Austria in 2011.” Until now, the Sony Reader Store has only been available in the United States. Kobo and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) also recently launched e-bookstores in Germany.
Sony also announced two new tablets today.