"Excellent!"5.0 starson by StatesideAussie
Pros: Superb screen, feels great to hold (which is important with an e-reader, because it's nice to hold something that feels comfortable and well-made). The extra dictionaries are useful for translating occasional foreign words that some authors use.
Cons: No included case. Previous Sony Readers included cases.
Summary: Like the other reviewer, I don't get this nonsense about wireless connections. I previously had the 900 with wireless and never even used that feature. Honestly, I have all the Internet I need: my house, my laptop (including a broadband card for Internet-on-the-go), an Android phone with unlimited data, and every hotel and airport that I use for business travel. The only times I can't access the Internet are when I'm on a plane or driving a car, and then the Kindle or Nook's wireless access wouldn't do me any good anyway, would they? So when I replaced the 900, I gladly down-sized to the wireless-free 650. Also, because of the way the Sony works, my entire library is also stored on my laptop. I actually like this, as a back-up. When my "old" 900 was stolen, I just plugged the new 650 into USB and my entire library (about 600 books, many open-source) was already there, already organized, and quick to transfer. I would really hate to have to download all that via wireless!
My public library now offers e-books, and that's hassle-free. Plus, I can buy books from anywhere that supports either e-Pub or PDF (and most online ebook shops do). Also, I can easily take my own Word and PDF documents and transfer them directly to the Sony -- I don't need to email them off to some third-party service that converts them into a proprietary format and then sends them back to me via wireless. I can transfer what I want, when I want, read and annotate the documents on the reader, and then transfer the annotated documents back to my laptop. I do this for my own part-time writing (aspiring or functioning novelists take note!), but also for large company documents that I need to work with. I'd rather review a 300-page Word document on the Reader than on my laptop. (The laptop rules for writing/creating and heavy editing, but for casual reviews that involve a lot of reading, the reader works well.)
A note on the built-in dictionaries. At first, I thought these would be a useless or over-rated feature, but they've already proved their worth. These are translation dictionaries: French-to-English, Spanish-to-English etc, and they come in very handy if you read books where authors occasionally throw in foreign words or expressions but don't bother to tell you what they mean. I was reading a book the other day where the author had one character who kept making quips in French. Just double-tap the word, switch to the French-English dictionary, and the meaning becomes clear.
The CNET reviewer speculated that the reason for the extra cost (compared to the Kindle or Nook) is to do with the touch-screen. Maybe so, maybe not.
But it might also have something to do with the fact that for Amazon and B&N, their primary business is selling books -- that's how they make their money. For them, getting you to buy their device is a way of "locking you in" as a book-buying customer (since their formats are proprietary). Whereas for Sony, the device itself is their core business, so it doesn't make any sense for them to cut their margins or lose money on these things. (This is doubly so since the Sony Readers are open format, so when you buy a Sony, you are not locked into buying books from them. Amazon can discount Kindles because they know you will have to buy books from them. But when you a Sony, you can buy your books almost anywhere, so Sony can't "subsidize" the devices the same way. So the devices cost more -- but your reward is the freedom to buy or borrow books from anywhere. Sounds like a winner to me. I would much rather pay extra for a device that gives me the freedom to buy or obtain books from almost anywhere, than to save a few dollars on a cheaper device and then be locked into buying from that one source.
Another factor that also contributes to the Sony's cost (I am sure) is the build quality. No cheap plastic here! And remember, with an e-book Reader, you will be holding it in your hand a lot, for hours at a time maybe. The 650 feels absolutely terrific -- comfortable, solid (but light), true quality.
As for the Sony bookstore: Amazon may have a wider range, but I haven't yet found anything that's available on Amazon but not on the Sony. (It would be interesting to see a list of e-books that are exclusive to Amazon.) I know that some authors who publish independently are available on Amazon and not through Sony, but so what? If you can't buy them from Sony, you can get them in e-Pub from other sources. And since Amazon was "pulled into line" by the major publishers, the argument that Amazon's book prices were often cheaper, has also largely disappeared.
All in all, Sony has really pulled one out of the bag with the 650. Take it from me -- wireless is over-rated, "side-loading" is simple and has numerous benefits, and the Sony more than justifies its extra cost through the excellent touch-screen features, the additional dictionaries, and the first-rate build quality and its support for open formats.