Sony PRS-350 Still a Nice Pocketable eBook Reader


Sony PRS-350

Last fall I posted about how we need more options for small pocket-sized ebook readers. Everything available on the current market has a screen size of 6-inches and up.

There used to be a number of smaller ebook readers available with 5-inch screens. There was even one with a 4.3-inch screen, the Pyrus Mini. But unfortunately that segment of the market has all but faded into the past.

There are a few E Ink cases and E Ink phones with smaller screens but they just aren’t the same as a dedicated ebook reader.

I was hoping Kobo would release a Kobo Mini 2, but that doesn’t look like it’s ever going to happen, especially now that they’ve got another new 6-inch model coming out next month called the Kobo Clara HD.

If you want a smaller ebook reader in this day and age, you have to look for devices that were released over 5 years ago.

The Sony PRS-350 came out way back in 2010, and the sad thing is it’s still one of the best smaller pocketable ebook readers out there.

I ended up selling my PRS-350 a few years ago because I wasn’t using it anymore, and I figured something newer and better was bound to come along eventually. But there haven’t been any new 5-inch ebook readers released in the past 5 years, and lately I’ve been wanting a smaller pocketable ebook reader to take on hikes and when out other places.

For me 6-inch ereaders are just too big and bulky to comfortably fit in a pocket. Sure, you might be able to cram one into a cargo pocket but then it’s flopping around annoyingly with every step.

That’s why I ended up buying a used PRS-350 off of eBay for $15 (how could I pass that up). I thought about getting a Kobo Mini but I decided I’d rather have something with page buttons and the Sony PRS-350 fits that bill perfectly, and it’s small enough to fit into a pocket and you can hardly tell it’s there. After all, Sony called it the “Pocket Edition” for a reason.

I’m surprised by how much I like the PRS-350. It has a nicer design and better build quality than most ebook readers today. The software has a number of limitations (there’s only one font type, no layout settings, and the font sizes are pretty awful) but luckily Calibre makes changing the font and layout easy.

If the current lineup of ebook readers doesn’t have what you’re looking for, consider looking into some older models. First off, they’re cheap. And second, ereaders age better than most electronics.

21 Responses to “Sony PRS-350 Still a Nice Pocketable eBook Reader”

  1. I had a few in my day, they were always functional, and convenient. I looked into modding a integrated front light, but that didn’t go anywhere as I always abused them to hardware failure through constant use… Good luck with yours. 🙂

    • Why take a “pocket ereader” when most people already have a 4.5″ or larger phone already with them? I use Alreader with my 5″ android phone often to pass time away.

      • The same reason I use my 6″ Kindle Voyage instead of my 6.3 Note 8, some people prefer reading books on eink.

      • It’s very simple: e-ink.

        Also, most smart phones are still pretty bad if you’re trying to read in bright sun light.

  2. The Kindle Voyage will fit in men’s jeans rear pockets. Just don’t sit on it.

  3. Had the Sony 350 for years. It was a great ereader. Very sturdy. Nice metal finish

  4. Another device: Wexler Flex one, whit flexible screen. And another (i don’t know, and haven’t either) the Smartphone double screen: Hisense a2, a2 pro, yota 2, 3. But for some reason they are expensive and difficult to find. And no newer or updated specifications for this little devices, no newer versiĂłn of hardware and firmware for wexler Flex, etc. And I’m sad for Boyue likebook note.

  5. There were some mods in a package called PRS+ to make Sonys more flexible, you could take a look at it if you’re in the mood to tinker with it

  6. PRS-350 is great. I have newer readers, but still regularly use my pocketable Sony. The battery is getting weaker after all this time, but I plan to try installing a new one if/when things get desperate. (see youtube) Also, PRS+ is definitely a worthwhile mod, as Ana said. A built in light and wifi, and it would be perfect.

  7. I have one of these, but I can’t seem to get it to work on the Kobo store anymore. It still connects to WiFi, but it appears the Kobo store page, which is connected via the built-in browser, won’t open. Any ideas?

  8. This post has inspired me to dig out my old Sony E-Readers, PRS-650 and PRS-T1. They both woke up after a few minutes after plugging them into a charger. Screens aren’t as responsive as today’s readers, but they work fine. The memories!!!

    • The hardware on the 350 and 650 is still really nice. Too bad the software is so outdated but it’s all right with Calibre controlling the layout. If Sony would have just held out a couple of more years they could’ve still been producing premium ereaders. The low price fad didn’t last long and now Kobo and Amazon both offer higher-end models for $230 to over $300.

      • Maybe, but Sony has always been after high profit margin products and because of Amazon’s dominance, I doubt Sony would have made enough money to want to stay in the market.

        The build quality of my PRS-650 is really nice like you said. They don’t make them like they used to. In fact, comparing the PRS-650 to the PRS-T1, you can see the transition to all plastic and cheaper feel. I’d forgotten all the features this PRS-650 has. It’s got 2 memory expansion slots (Memory Stick and full SD Card), a headphone jack, and a stylus!!! Stylus haha! Plus, it has physical buttons for those who love them. It’d be perfect if it had LED lighting front lighting. I have it in the Sony case with a LED bulb on a swinging adjustable arm. I never liked reading with that bulb as it caused so much glare. Front lighting is just a great feature of modern readers. Yes, Calibre is the way to go, even back then, I never used the Sony software to load books.

        • My Sony PRS-T1 is still going strong, although after about 7 years, battery life is now only about three weeks. I think in a year I’ll probably have to figure out how to replace the battery, but think I can easily get another 10 years out of the device. That is rock solid Sony quality.

          Note: The Sony PRS-T1 also has physical buttons, and a memory card slot, and a head phone jack, and Wi-Fi which the PRS-650 does not. No stylus on the PRS-T1 — but not sure why you would need a stylus?

          PRS-650 is still a pretty nice device though. They definitely don’t make them like they used to.

          • I think the T1 also included a stylus, it just doesn’t have a slot in the unit to house it unlike the PRS-650. So most people didn’t bother with it or carry it with the reader.

  9. I love Sony PRS 350 was my first ebook reader, the most awesome birthday present from my mom 🙂 (it’s difficult to find ebook reader in my country at that time). Love it so much… Until 3 years ago, I bought to Kobo Aura (1st generation). My PRS 350 still running well and from time to time I use it. For several reason I like it better than Kobo. We can highlight something in ebook and have separate menu that listed everything we highlighted and save without opening each book to look for our note/highlight. In Kobo we have to open each ebook to find out the note/highlight( I often forgot which book I have notes within). Still can’t find similar function/menu like PRS 350. Well, but with Kobo I can read in the dark 🙂

  10. This is why I wish there were universal lithium batteries. I’d likely stay with my paper white 1 dirt another decade of I could replace its battery. And I don’t count generic cheapos that are as old as my reader as legitimate replacements

    • I don’t think it’s a battery issue. There always seem to be replacement batteries for any device on sale. The issue seems to be how easy it is to get into your device to replace them. Devices are made more and more to be less accessible to the parts inside it seems.

  11. I don’t understand this article. The Kobo Aura Edition 2 is a six inch reader, but it is only a few mm bigger than the 350 in overall size. I think that most men could fit that reader in their pockets.

    • I still have the original Kobo Glo and it’s about the same size as the Aura and it is only a little bit larger than the PRS-350, but it’s just way too uncomfortable in my pockets to want to carry around for any length in time. The PRS-350 is just small enough that I can barely tell it’s there, even when hiking for several miles. 13mm x 8mm smaller and 20 grams lighter doesn’t sound like a lot but it makes a big difference in this situation.

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