Kobo Touch or Sony PRS-T1?

Lately I’ve been wondering if I should get a an eReader. I’ve been reading quite a bit and, being the tech person that I am, having a device the weight of not even half a book capable of storing millions of them sounds very interesting.

As I live in continental Europe, things such as a Kindle or Nook are hard to come by. Shops don’t sell them and the only place I know you can get them (fairly) easily is on eBay but with a hefty shipping cost ($20 or more). So my quest continued, I went to check out Coolblue’s eReader Store which I know always has a reasonable “Top Ten” list and good comparison features. There I found the Kobo Touch and Sony PRS-T1 (what were the marketing folks over at Sony thinking when they gave their device this name?).

The PRS-T1 currently costs 150 euros compared to the Kobo Touch’s 120. As for features, they are somewhat similar, the Kobo does not have audio playback but that’s usually not really an issue if you would like to read a book (unless you like audio books of course).

I went to the store and tested both of them for about an hour. My findings were kind of surprising. I didn’t know Kobo as a brand before so I figured Sony being the big corporation it is would probably have better hardware but this is not the case!

‘Flipping’ a page takes almost double as long on the Sony device than on the Kobo. I didn’t find a way to change the Sony’s ‘total refresh’ to fewer times than every single page. I set the Kobo to the maximum amount which seemed to be a refresh after every six pages. You don’t really need a refresh after every page so I’m not sure why Sony didn’t think of this (and if it’s there I couldn’t easily find it).

I also like the fact you can either swipe or just tap the left or right side on the Kobo to flip a page where the Sony only seems to work with a swipe or the physical next/back buttons. The fact the Kobo only has one button, Home, was quite appealing as well.

The user interface of the PRS-T1 was very cluttered in my opinion, one could argue the Kobo’s home screen lacks detail or features but in this case I prefer simplicity over crowded menus. A thing I do like about the Sony eReader is the fact you can change its orientation from portrait to landscape and back whenever you feel like it. This isn’t possible with the Touch, I’ve read you can only do this when reading PDF files, not with EPUB ones unfortunately.

I didn’t have the capability to test the web browsers as there was no WiFi available at the time of testing but then again, those are non-essential features on an eReader. I’d use it for reading books, and that’s about it. Integration with Goodreads.com or maybe a Twitter feed would’ve been nice but certainly not necessary.

As for the hardware, the Sony looks sleeker, the microSD slot has a dustcover which the Kobo lacks but the latter feels more comfortable to hold with the rubber-ish backside. They have about the same dimensions and have more or less equal mass.

Bottom line: both the Sony PRS-T1 and Kobo Touch are pretty good devices. If you’re more the kind of person who likes a sleek design and would like to play music or audio books the Sony reader is the machine for you. However, if you do not require audio I think the Kobo Touch is the better choice.

What are your thoughts on both devices? Post them in the comments and we can have some discussion about it.