Sony Reader Daily Edition: 3G and 7-inch Touch Screen for $399

Amazon and Barnes & Noble may be swiping the limelight, but it didn’t stop Sony to take a page from Amazon in the intensifying competition to dominate the fast-growing e-book market, and it added a few chapters of its own.

The electronics giant introduced the Reader Daily Edition, its first portable reader, which will use AT&T’s 3G network to wirelessly download books, newspapers, magazines and other text. It is similar to Amazon’s Kindle, which uses Sprint’s network. But unlike the market leader, Sony’s unit will have a 7-inch monochrome e-ink display and will accommodate several e-book formats, including ePub, which many libraries use for the electronic editions that they lend. You can highlight blocks of text and add notes with the included stylus, or use the on-screen keyboard if your handwriting is illegible. All notes can be exported and printed out for easy reference. There’s also an onboard Oxford American English Dictionary that allows you to look up a word by simply tapping on daily readerMeasuring just 0.6″ thin and weighing only 12.75 ounces, the Reader Daily Edition joins the already announced Touch Edition PRS-600 ($299) and Pocket Edition PRS-300 ($199), with the exception of the wireless connection and larger screen. Battery life is rated at up to 2.5 weeks from a single charge, though you’ll only see that sort of longevity if the wireless is shut off. Switch it on and you’re looking at more like a week’s worth of use.

This latest e-book reader will cost $400 when it hits the shelves before Christmas. It would be a pricey gift, but for now, it’s not really an option at all without a guarantee to arrive before the end of the year. Maybe they should take a cue from B&N and have those e-readers ready to ship and under the tree by December 25.

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