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A Sony breakthrough
A Sony breakthrough
Sony was the early mover in the modern e-book era.

Sony Reader
September 2006
Launch price: $300
Current price: Three models available, starting at $180

The Sony Reader is the least glamorous of the current crop of e-readers, lacking the caché of the iPad or the Kindle, but it's been plugging along since its 2006 debut, with steady updates along the way

The current Reader Pocket, Touch and Daily Edition products are for sale everywhere from Amazon.com to Wal-Mart to the Home Shopping Network. In an effort to compete with the Kindle, Nook and Kobo, Sony rolled out new versions in September, beefing up its Reader Pocket Edition with a touch screen and a trimmer form-factor -- and raising its price from $149 to $179.

When it reviewed the first-generation PRS-500 device, CNET.com heralded the device as an answer to the "electronic" book problem -- finding good hardware.

"The biggest impediment for books to really move into the digital realm has been the absence of an affordable e-book reader that was any good," CNET wrote. "The good news is that Sony's gotten a lot right with its PRS-500 Portable Reader System ($300), which most people know as the Sony Reader."

NEXT: Goliath charges in
Last updated October 26 2010: 6:22 PM ET
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