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Amazon launched its latest ebook reader, the Kindle 3, just a couple of weeks ago and now Sony has announced updates for its models.

The Sony Reader Pocket Edition and Reader Touch Edition are new and improved versions of current models with the same names and will be available from 17 September, so don’t make the mistake of buying an old model before then.

Both new Sony Readers use the same eInk Pearl screen as the Kindle 3, which gives a whiter background and sharper contrast for more comfortable reading. The difference, however, is that the Sony screens are touch-sensitive, so you can turn pages with the swipe of a finger. If you’re in the habit of scribbling in the margins of books as you’re reading, the ability to make handwritten annotations to ebooks might also appeal — it’s certainly easier than tapping away on a tiny keyboard.

The Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-350 has a 5” screen, while the Reader Touch Edition PRS-650’s is 6”, but both models are about as thick as a pencil and very light (155g and 215g, respectively). Neither has Wi-Fi for web browsing or buying books online though, and battery life for both is reckoned to be two weeks — half that of the one month Amazon claims for the Kindle 3.

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Given that Amazon’s Kindle 3 costs £109 for the Wi-Fi and £149 for the Wi-Fi+3G model, Sony prices don’t seem too tempting, though. Both are cheaper than the models they replace, but the PRS-350 costs £159 and the PRS-650 is £199. We’re not sure that the touch-screen is worth this extra outlay and the Kindle 3 still beasts Sony’s efforts in our book. Er, ebook.

[Sony Reader]