Sony Reader WiFi ups the bar for eBook Readers by adding a touch screen

Among Sony's releases at IFA is one that could put a dent in Kindle's dominance of the eReader space - the 6-inch Sony Reader Wi-Fi. The new reader comes in at just 168 grams, two thirds of the weight of the Kindle 3 WiFi and with a host of advantages that include faster and smoother page turns (we tried it), and a dual-touch touchscreen for easy zooming.

The touch screen fits well with the form factor and the swiping of a finger to turn the page, or pinching and spreading of fingers to zoom in or out seems far more natural, particularly if you have a tablet in your armory of gadgets.

You can also tap and hold on a word you don't recognize to find its meaning and highlight text with a finger.

It comes with two English language dictionaries and ten translation dictionaries for foreign language students.

Unlike the Kindle, it won't lock you to one on-line bookstore (Amazon for the Kindle) as the sole provider of your reading material. The Sony Reader store now carries more than 2.5 million titles, but you can buy elsewhere, and it supports the public library e-book lending service that will let you borrow books from public libraries (11,000 at last count, but only in UK, US, and Canada at this stage). It's also cheaper and lighter than the model it replaces, but still US$10 dearer than the Kindle at US$149.

The battery life of the new Reader WiFi is somewhat less than the Kindle and indeed just about every other ereader, but then again, three weeks with WiFi on is not likely to pose too many problems unless you're planning an intergalactic trip. If you're accustomed to a tablet or smartphone, any ereader will delight you with its frugal power consumption.

The internal capacity of 2GB isn't a lot compared to other eBook readers, but is easily supplemented via the microSD card slot in case you want to supplement your reading with music or photos or audi books, which tend to take up a lot more space than eBooks.

The Reader Wi-Fi comes in red, white and black and will be available in the U.K., Germany and Austria in October.

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