Flipping to a new page takes a little under a second. This isn't too bad if you're simply turning the page. Eventually we found ourselves instinctively pressing the 'Next' button before we'd finished reading the last line of the page we were on.
The real drawback comes when you try to flick back a few pages to check something – it's utterly impractical. You can flip to specific pages by typing in the page number with the menu buttons, but that assumes you know exactly which page you're after. Overall, navigating a book is tricky. You can't search your texts either.
That's not the only problem. Although the E Ink screen is initially spectacular, after a while it becomes clear that it doesn't have the high contrast of a normal paper page, and you need more ambient light to read it.
When you first plug in the Pocket Edition, it installs Sony's eBook Library software, a kind of iTunes for books. Unfortunately that's where the parallels end – click on the store and all you get are a set of links out to Borders, WHSmith and Waterstones.
Actually buying a book from Waterstones proved fairly easy in itself, although it's disappointing that the 304kb download cost only around £1 less than buying the physical book. You can't take it to a charity shop when you're done, either.
Bizarrely, once we'd paid for our book, we were prompted to download Adobe's Digital Editions software and informed that it was the only software that would work with our download.
In fairness, Adobe's software works well and detected our Pocket Edition straightaway – dragging our new book on there was simple – but it seems odd that the Pocket Reader comes with software that booksellers don't use themselves.
You don't have to buy books, though. The Pocket Edition is compatible with PDF, RTF, TXT and Microsoft Word files, and has 512MB of internal memory.
Assuming 400kb per book, you could easily fit a few years' worth of reading on, and its compatibility with non-DRM formats means it could serve a few other practical purposes, such as being a highly portable reference device.
And there are plenty of public domain titles around, many of them available at http://books.google.com.