The Best eReader for Under $100: Sony Reader PRS-T1

Sony Reader PRS-T1

The Sony Reader PRS-T1 is my top pick for an ebook reader this holiday season under $100.

When it was first released, the Sony PRS-T1 sold for $149. Then Sony dropped the price to $129, and now it is on sale until December 24th for just $99 with free shipping. A thirty three percent price drop in two months. Not bad.

Barnes and Noble recently dropped the price of the Nook Touch to $99 as well. And if you’ve seen my Best eBook Readers post, you’ll find it sitting at the top.

But that was when the Sony Reader Wi-Fi sold for $149. Now that it is down to $99, the Sony wins over the Nook because it offers a lot more features for the price. It has a web browser, on-screen notes, better PDF support, twelve dictionaries, a drawing app and memo app, it supports audio, can download ebooks from libraries, and more.

The Nook Touch is nice ereader but it is rather basic unless rooted to run Android apps. Then it is a contender, but most people aren’t going to go through the trouble.

The Sony PRS-T1 can be rooted to run Android apps too. It can even install the Kindle for Android app to get ebooks from Amazon. Not sure if the Nook app works; I never tried it.

Nook Touch vs Sony PRS-T1 Comparison Review »

Aside from the Nook, the other major competitors to the PRS-T1 in that price range are the $99 Kindle Touch and $79 Kindle 4. Both Kindles are really nice and offer a good amount of features—I tend to like the Kindle 4 a little better—but both come with advertisements at those prices. The non-ad models cost $40 and $30 more respectively. Same goes for the $99 Kobo Touch.

If you don’t mind the ads (most people don’t), then it is a different ballgame. I’ll be posting a comparison review between the Sony and Kindles in a couple of days to outline the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Make sure to check out my review of the Sony PRS-T1 for more information about it before buying.

Sony PRS-T1 Review »

Where to Buy the Sony PRS-T1

I have no idea how many Reader Wi-Fi’s Sony has on hand for the holiday season, but with the price being so low, I expect Sony and most retailers to sell out of the Sony PRS-T1 before Christmas. So here are links to a bunch of places that sell the Sony PRS-T1 for when they start to become hard to find. Sony is the most reliable for the $99 price; other sites are fluctuating.



Best Buy




20 Responses to “The Best eReader for Under $100: Sony Reader PRS-T1”

  1. I think it worth mentioning that the the prs-t1 is only 99 in the USA. In Canada it is 140 same as the Kobo touch (which comes with a 20 gift certificate.

  2. I have to disagree for three reasons. First, the “added” features really don’t mean that much to the overall purpose of being an ereader (honestly, I haven’t even used the Pandora feature on my NC while reading). Second, Sony’s ebook store, plus the third parties together is still a far cry from either the Amazon or B&N ecosystems’ depths. Third, while I absolutely love the design and quality of the Sony ereaders in the past, this latest generation has really taken a “plasticy” nosedive, and is a far cry from the rock solid design you see in the Nook Simple Touch.

  3. I’m glad you are giving another mention of the Sony PRS-T1 in your blog. It is not often that I see a tech blog return to a previously reviewed product if price put them out of contention for “best” or “better”.

    I ordered the red one at this reduced price because the black version was reported to have too much glare and showed finger prints. I hope it is an appealing shade of red. I have not been able to find a red PRS-T1 in any store on display.

    It would be nice if Sony would eventually load something similar to “Article Mode” that was featured on the Kindle. It will make it handy reading news articles and formatting the text for the screen.

    In response to John Ireland — other brands may suit your basic need for an ereader with an extensive bookstore to purchase books. If “added features don’t mean that much to the overall purpose of being an ereader” then why have a Nook Color?

    The Sony meets my needs for browsing news articles from the web without an eye wearying LCD screen. I do not plan to purchase many books and, instead, rely predominately on my local library. I may even make use of the music capability so I don’t have to carry the reader AND a music player. Notes can even be helpful for a forgetful person or when paper and paper are not available.

    As for the plastic Sony, I guess they have found it takes plastic to compete with plastic on price. The glossy look may not have been the best choice to debut their lower priced ereader. It seems to be a common complaint among reviewers, even on a German tech blog I translated to English.

  4. …and I cry….

    Here in Italy, Sony PRS-T1 is 199€ (= 267$)!!!!

    Not the best Xmas deal….shame on sony

  5. Sony was selling the PRS-T1 for 179€ in Europe. Their Christmas offer is: the new price of 199€.
    I really don’t understand Sony’s policy in Europe. Now Amazon is here and selling the Kindle 4 at 99€. Still way more expensive than in the USA.

  6. @Cesar It isn’t their price policy, it has to do with taxes and something I am going to call “local worth” of the currency. Even though 1 € is worth 1,33 $, you can’t buy with it as much as you’ll get in the US for 1,33 $. Our local, and for what it is worth the global, economy depends on that fact.
    But then again, I am not that well informed about economy, this is just my humble observation.

  7. Any news about that firmware update?

  8. Hi, I would like to respond to some of John Ireland’s comments above.

    First, and have very extensive collections of e-books and if you see something on Amazon that is not available at either of these sites, they will contact the publisher and get it made available. The last thing the publishers will want to do is to put all of their eggs into the Amazon/Barnes & Noble basket. Personally, I have not had trouble locating content or finding that some content is only available at Amazon/Barnes & Noble versus other sites.

    Second, the availability of titles with the public library e-book lending is really amazing and Amazon has been late to this market. The Los Angeles Public Library has over 10,000 e-books available for lending and many are in both DRM .pdf and DRM .epub formats. And some are in Open format (no DRM). Many of these e-books are some of the latest best selling titles. Granted the number of copies available may sometimes limited, but with the electronic lending/waiting list is very efficient and moves quickly.

    Third, where I’m finding value with the web browser on an e-reader is using it as a reference tool to look up static content. Sure you can look stuff up on your cell phone, but the screen is too small and the e-reader actually works faster for this purpose.

  9. the price is still 149euros here in France though! 😐

  10. Premium eReader Prices in France

    Sony PRS-T1 149euros @ Paris Sony Store
    Kobo Touch 99euros+30euros worth gift card @ FNAC(exclusive)
    Amazon Kindle 99euros @ online & Virgin Store
    Bookeen Cybook Odyssey 129euros @ Virgin Store

  11. @Don_Julez: You are on the right track.
    The term you’re looking for is “purchasing power” which is in fact very different from the currency conversion rate. Purchasing power is a reflection of many things in a given locality ranging from labor costs, taxes, real estate costs, and regulatory burden among other things.
    Currency conversion rates are subject to manipulation by gonvernments and central banks, among others.
    Purchasing power isn’t because it is a function of the state of the economy.
    There are many different, unofficial ways to measure purchasing power across currencies and localities (different cities in the same country, for example, can and do have different purchasing power) but they’re all mostly guesses.
    The British weekly, THE ECONOMIST uses a measure of purchasing power that they call the BIG MAC Index based on the local price of MacDonalds BIG MAC burgers. (Honest, they do!) 🙂

    The idea being that MacDonalds restaurants are ubiquitous, follow the same recipe and procedures, and use more or less the same components but locally sourced whenever feasible.

    Once adjusted for GDP, they can use the Big Mac Index and the currency conversion rate to determine if a given currency is over-valued or under valued. Their july 2011 numbers found that, at that time, the euro appeared to be overvalued by 30-35% over the dollar by the conversion rate, in actual purchasing power. In other words, when euros were listed at 1.30 per dollar, they actually only had the purchasing power of 1 dollar.

    Of course, that is by that one index.
    Most companies have their own pricing algorithms. Sony is probably using one that tries to balance the official exchange rate, the euro’s true purchasing power, plus the *size* of the market which impacts their overhead charges.

    This is getting long so I’ll skip the parts about economies of scale, mandatory warranties, wireless certification across mutiple regulatory regimes, and localization costs that make cheaper prices possible in the US. Plus the fact the $99 price is a Christmas Sale.

    Just consider that odds are Sony is not out to rip-off their european customers at a time Amazon and Kobo are spreading like wildfire. They’re probably just doing the best they can for a *hardware-only* vendor trying to keep up with walled-garden vendors reacting to the Agency Model price fixing scheme.

  12. Hi, Nate…I sure do appreciate the time and effort you put into doing the e-reader reviews (and I hope your readers feel as I do!). Maybe you’ve informed us too much :), because I still don’t think they are perfected, yet. For instance, you mentioned previously that this Sony model gets rid of any words/passages that were intended to be in italics. That’s a major omission in my eyes!

    I think I’m going to continue to buy regular, paper books until I come across an e-reader that has been perfected enough for my high standards.

    TAke care and best wishes to you and all your readers during this holiday season!


    • It doesn’t always mess with italics, just sometimes and only when changing to a different font type. The bug doesn’t effect the default font.

  13. Sony PRS-T1 all colors $89.99 with free shipping!

    How Low Can It Go? New low price on Sony PRS-T1 all colors

    B&H Photo $89.99 with free shipping!

    But hurry sale ends Dec 11.

    Saw this in the MobileRead forum. You must use the link below to see the price, can’t get there via normal searches. And you don’t need to bring your pepper spray….

    You’ll need to reassemble this link if it stays wrapped.

  14. My thanks to JIm Savitz for the tip on the special
    Sony e-reader for $90.00 and no tax.

  15. Just ordered one through Sony, hopefully it arrives as promised before the 24th. Anyone have any access rooting this and then using vudroid to look at DJVUs? Almost all my old math texts are in djvu, so really hoping I get that working.

  16. @fjtorres Wow, thank you for your long answer, I really appreciate it! That was indeed what I meant, but never had the words for, so… thanks again.

  17. I picked up a PRS-T1 on clearance at Best Buy for $79.99 along with a lighted cover for $22.99 making this a great deal when compared to a Kindle Touch with lighted cover ($99.99 + ads + $59.99) or Nook Simple Touch Glowlight ($140).

    I dig it. Sony makes nice hardware.