Tuesday, February 9, 2010

eReader Reviews

I thought in the wake of the magnificent iPad, I should give a roundup of eReaders. On Thursday, we'll have a list of 5 pros and 5 cons for eReaders and traditional books.

Note that this list isn't exhaustive; there are what seems like countless eReaders on the market. I'm listing the most well-known here and am happy to research any you mention in the comments and go back and add to the list.

The Kindle
This was one of the first ereaders on the market. Early versions were hailed as fabulous. To be fair, I've only seen one once, and I wasn't terribly impressed only because I don't want a bunch of extra crap with it--I just want to turn pages and bookmark my place. But the Kindle I saw, you had to go into a menu to do those tasks. Pshaw! Still, it allows instant download of books. And since the attraction of an eReader for me is the instant gratification of reading a book RIGHT NOW, the Kindle is a still a good bet. (Or it would have been, had Amazon not turned off the buy buttons of Macmillan books, losing me as a Kindle customer forever. Right on, Amazon!)

Sony eReader
I have this. I love it. But it's page turning properties are just a split second slow, and you have to charge it via your laptop or else buy a pricey cord. And Sony was super duper slow in getting a decent eBook store going. That is to say, they had one, but it sucked. They're constantly revamping it but I question the competitive wisdom of not having a fantastic eBook store, immediately. And, worse, the number of titles in the Sony eReader store seems to be rather less than say, Amazon or B&N. Still, the Sony eReader is a solid entry in the eReader market. Later editions have the wireless feature, touch screen, and color. (Mine doesn't have any of that.)

Barnes and Noble's Nook
The Nook is supposed to be feather light in weight, or some such malarkey. It's wireless and taps into the AT&T network, and offers color. Pretty good! Bonus, they say books can be loaned to other Nook users. Wired magazine called the Nook a "Kindle killer." My guess is that the Nook is pretty awesome, but could be drowned out by the iPad.

Spring Design Alex
Kind of cool, this one. It runs on Google's Android operating system and is similar to a Kindle. Web surfing is enabled. The people who made it were former Intel and Sandisk engineers, and they seem a smart bunch. The Alex sure hasn't gotten the press that the other eReaders have--I mean, I wouldn't know where to buy it, for one--but I'd love to play with one, especially knowing it runs on the Android system.

Plastic Logic QUE
Supposedly this was pitched to business users in the hopes of being a niche product. It supports business documents like Excel sheets and PDFs, but I mean...come on. Is that working for it? I can't see executivey types pulling out their Que in lieu of their iPhones or Blackberries just yet.
If the Que manages to tape into newspaper viewing, then I'd say they have half a chance. And yet, I will admit that my Blackberry SUCKS at any kind of calendar or date book activity, and if the Que can efficiently act as one, then I would be vair, vair interested.

Apple iPad
Ok, the biggest and best for last. Were I to upgrade my eReader, I'd have to go with the iPad. It's got everything, and the ebook store through Apple promises to be as pleasurable an experience as iTunes is with my iPod. But that's just familiarity. You know with an Apple product, you're getting sleek, extremely good user design, functionality, and things you never knew you wanted. But like the iPod, five million versions at ever-decreasing pricepoints are sure to emerge over the next few years. I think my Sony eReader will tide me over for a while.

So, do you have any of these? More than one? What do you like or dislike about your model? (Note that this isn't a discussion on eReaders vs. real books. We'll get to that on Thursday.)

1 comment:

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I can't comment on the others, but I have a Kindle (version 2) and I ♥ it. It's very user friendly, Amazon's ebook selection is vast, and I do love the instant gratification of downloading a book wirelessly. It also plugs in the wall to charge , so that's nice. And it holds a charge forever--at least a week of reading before I have to plug it in.

The only thing I still don't like about ereaders is the whole DRM thing. I'd like to be able to download books from any store without having to worry about compatibility. But that's not a Kindle issue, that's with all ebook readers right now.

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