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Your e-reader options.

*Edited to add: Pam pointed me to another e-reader, so I added that e-reader to the list. It’s a beauty, but cost prohibitive for most people.

I know. I was the first person to say I WILL NEVER WANT AN E-READER. But then people I knew started getting them (and raving about them!), and I started to see how an e-reader would come in handy. E-readers will NEVER replace books, but they are doing a damn good job of supplementing physical books for those of us who read a lot.

I was lucky enough to win a Kindle 2, thanks to the folks at Glue.

Does Amazon’s seeming intent to control the publishing world worry me? Absolutely. Do I think the price of e-books are freaking ridiculous? Heck. yes. But I have a secret to tell you…are you ready? I need you to come closer so I can whisper in your ear.

*whispering* I love my Kindle.

But I know that e-readers are far from perfect, and just like MP-3 players, in a few years these original models will look like dinosaurs. But in the meantime, let’s see what options you have for e-readers and the pros and cons of each. I gathered various specs and opinions from others who’ve tested and reviewed the various e-readers. I myself can only speak for the Kindle.

You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned iPhones as an e-reader, and that’s because the whole POINT of an e-reader is that it’s not backlit and doesn’t cause eye strain. So I know people like reading books on their iPhone, but it’s not a true e-reader so I won’t go over the pros and cons. HOWEVER, I like the idea of not having a gagillion gadgets, but in circumstances like this, I think the e-reader serves a very specific, useful, and necessary purpose.

kindleKindle 2

• Pro: It’s thin (1/3 inch), even with a leather cover on it (3/4 inch)
• Pro: It’s light (10.2 ounces)
• Pro: It’s not backlit, so it really reads like a real book. The downside to this is you need light to read it.
• Pro: You can download a book instantly (less than 60 seconds), which it does over WiFi, but it doesn’t require you to have an Internet connection that you pay for. Using the WiFi to download a book is FREE.
• Pro: It will read to you! And sing you to sleep!
• Pro: There are 16 shades of gray so the text is clearer
• Con: You must buy the Kindle from Amazon and only Amazon. Ditto on the books.
• Con: You can only read e-books.
• Con: Books aren’t cheap! $9.99 for even a new book is no steal.
• Con: The screen takes a second to refresh when you turn the page.
• Con: Price: $359 $299

 sony e-reader

Sony Reader Digital Book

• Pro: It’s 6.9 inches high by 4.9 inches wide by 0.3 inches deep, and weighs about 9 ounces
• Pro: It’s not backlit
• Pro: THE SCREEN! Check that puppy out! It’s basically the same size as the Kindle screen, but it *looks* bigger, and I like that.
• Pro/Con: This only has 8 shades of gray, which is up from when it only had 4 shades of gray. They haven’t yet gotten to the Kindle’s 16 shades of gray.
• Pro: It’s not owend by Teh Evil Amazon.
• Pro: You can read more than just e-books. You can read .pdfs, Text, RTF, and Word files.
• Con: The screen takes a second to refresh when you turn the page.
• Con: You have to download books from your computer. Sony doesn’t have the wireless capability that the Kindle does, and while some people might not find this to be a problem, I think in this digital age that being able to download books without using your computer is a must.
• Books aren’t cheap!
• Price: $279 for the PRS 505, $349 for the PRS 700 BC

plastic logic

Plastic Logic Touch-Screen E-Reader

• Pro: VERY thin, it’s the size of a standard sheet of paper and as thin as about six credit cards, and weighs less than a pound. The large size (not the thinness) could actually be a con, though, because the advantage of the other e-readers out there is that they fit in your purse (or your murse, if you’re a dude).
• Pro: You can read documents from Adobe and Microsoft Office.
• Pro: IT HAS A TOUCH SCREEN. No more pressing buttons to turn the page, just flick your finger across the screen.
• Pro: You can annotate documents, and when you transfer those documents to another device, your notations remain intact.
• Pro: It will have Wi-Fi, but it’s not clear yet if you will need to pay a service charge for mobile use.  
• Pro: It’s not backlit.
• Con: As this e-reader won’t be released until 2010, there aren’t many reviews, so I don’t know what’s not so great about it at this point.
• Price has not been announced yet.

cool-erCOOL-ER

• Pro: It’s slim and lightweight. It’s 7.2 inches high by 4.6 inches wide by .4 inches deep.
• Pro: It comes in great colors.
• Pro: It supports ebooks in many languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Dutch, Russian, Korean, Ukrainian, Chinese and Japanese
• Pro: It’s not backlit
• Pro: COOL-ER can read any JPEG, PDF, or TXT document, or any EPUB formatted ebook
• Pro: You can share books with other COOL-ERs.
• Pro: It has a built-in MP-3 player, so you can listen to audiobooks as well.
• Con: You have to get books via a USB cable off of your computer. No Wi-Fi here. 🙁
• Con: Navigation is difficult. 
• Con: The buttons are hard to press.
• Price: $249

irex iliadiRex iLiad Book Edition

• Pro: It’s 8.5 inches high, 6.1 inches wide, and .63 inches deep. It weighs just under a pound at 15.3 ounces.
• Pro: It’s not backlit.
• Pro: It has 16 levels of grey-scale
• Pro: It comes pre-loaded with 50 classics, such as Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, and Dracula.
• Pro: TOUCH SCREEN. Need I say more?
• Pro: You can use the stylus to write notes.
• Pro: It supports the following formats: PDF / HTML / TXT / JPG / BMP/ PNG / PRC
• Con: You have to download books with a USB cable via your computer.
• Con: It only has 256MB of memory, and while you can upgrade to 8GB, it’s more money for an already expensive product.
• Price: $599

I think if we could wrap all four of these e-readers into one (awesome colors, a touch screen, free wi-fi, and no Evil Amazon), we’d have a perfect e-reader. I think the perfect e-reader is a little ways off, but we’re definitely getting closer. 🙂

The iLiad seems like it would be the PERFECT e-reader. Except for that pesky price. People balk at the Kindle’s price, which recently went from $349 to $299. $599 is out of most people’s price range.

Don’t forget, I haven’t had a chance to review all these e-readers. The only one I own is the Kindle. I’d be thrilled to see how they all compare, but…well, I don’t have that kind of money (especially for the iRex, which I’m drooling over!). Jenn, however, has compared her Sony E-Reader with the Kindle, and she may be reviewing the COOL-ER in the near future.

Do you have an e-reader? What would make the e-readers better? Based on the four e-readers we have to choose from, is there an e-reader you’d prefer over another?

Disclaimer: I did my best on this list, but I may have missed something, and for that I apologize. Some things are the same across the board, like the fact that e-books aren’t cheap or that all e-readers aren’t backlit.

| Tags: , , , 25 comments »

25 Responses to “Your e-reader options.”

  1. Pam

    Until I can afford the Iliad from iRex Technologies I will not be purchasing an ereader. I know the price is very very steep but if I am to have one I want the one that has all the features!

    http://www.irextechnologies.com/products/iliad

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  2. Jennsbookshelf

    Great comparison! Thanks for the reference to my post as well. I’m looking forward to reviewing the COOL-ER. I’ve been up front, though, and stated that I’m loyal to my Sony Reader and it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get me to change my mind!

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  3. Pauline Baird Jones

    One thing that isn’t always clear with the formats is that often the ereader DOESN’T support DRM formats. One reason why I really, really hate DRM.

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  4. pusserboots

    They are all too expensive for me. The only way I read ebooks right now is on my lap top.

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  5. Trish Ryan

    I’m wrestling with this! I love books, and tend to write all over them, so I never thought I’d consider an e-reader. But the volume of books I read and the ease of taking them all on one device when I travel has me wondering. Thanks for the low-down on these and giving me a frame of reference!

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  6. Elizabeth Spann Craig

    Thanks for the overview. I think I’ll wait until the price comes down a bit, but this is tempting.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  7. Lenore

    I’ve been debating getting one, especially to review eARCs (you might have seen my post on it recently) but I’m leaning towards waiting a while for an eReader with all the features for half the price. You know it’s coming! Meanwhile, I am always open to winning one 😉

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  8. Amy (Park-Avenue Princess)

    I have a Kindle 1, a Kindle 2 (no plans of buying the Kindle DX….

    I have a Sony ereader I think it’s an 1150 and I also have another Sony Reader that is the James Patterson Special edition. These two were gifts and I never even opened the patterson one. So, I can’t tell you. As for the Sony Reader it was my VERY first reader and it was a gift from a VERY CLOSE friend that was heartbroken because I was announced as a winner through a giveaway done by some romance author’s….I won’t say which….but it was a scavanger hunt type thing and I was listed as the grand prize winner. Well, when I contacted them, they told me there was another Amy S. and I could get my choice of three ebooks instead! HELLO! I then had NO Ereader! I never posted about this until now, but I wanted too….I wanted to tell everyone not to join their next hunt or giveaways and I’ve since steered clear. I was really hurt and this was right before I went into the hospital

    My K1 was a gift from my friend vanessa and my k2 a gift from a “gentleman friend” shall I say. So, because I didn’t purchase them, I wasn’t thinking about what you get for the “money” but let me say this….that whispernet feature comes in awfully handy in the middle of the night when you don’t want to hook up to a computer or there are no book stores open! WOO HOO! Agreed?

    xoxo Amy

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  9. sarah pekkanen

    Okay, I’m still laughing over “murse.” I don’t have a Kindle but I think I need one. Everyone I know who has one raves about it. And I read so much and am always lugging around books. One thing that came in handy for me recently was when an author wanted an advance copy of my novel via Kindle. We don’t have galleys yet, so instead of waiting, I could email her my manuscript. So there’s definitely a convenience factor.

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  10. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I”m holding out for Barnes and Nobles device which will hopefully be awesome.

    But…I do really like the idea of all in one. Seriously if there’s a way we can make the phone function as an ereader I would be so happy. So much better for the environment.

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  11. goshik

    Have a look at these E-Reader Matrix for more devices: http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix

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  12. debnance

    Here’s a story: I have a Kindle, but the default for me is still the real thing. So I am taking a class this summer and I needed a book. I go to B&N. Nope. Nada. I go to Border’s. Not there either. And it suddenly clicks with me that the book might be available on my Kindle and I check….It is. I download it in seconds and it is half the price.

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  13. Pauline Baird Jones

    Cell phones already function as ereaders. I used to eread on my Treo and when it died got an iPhone. I used eReader and Stanza and recently Amazon added Kindle for iPhone. With some iPhone’s now selling for $99 that’s cheapest ereader around.

    I know some people don’t like the small screen, but fonts are adjustable and the iPhone screen is very nice.

    I’m a bit of an ereader junkie. I got the ebookwise device from ebookwise.com (cheapest ereader, other than a cell phone). Then my sister gave me a Sony Reader and I recently bought a Kindle. I still read on all of them, because not all books are available for all devices (which is a topic for another blog?).

    The nice thing about my cell, its always with me, so if an unexpected wait happens, I’ve got reading (and games, music and video).

    Another ereading option is one of the smaller netbooks. You get all the benefits of a computer, but in a nice, small package.

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  14. Jeanne

    I was interested in the kindle until I found out that the books you “own” on there aren’t really yours–it’s so Orwellian to think that Amazon can take them away. Plus the library doesn’t keep a list of what I read, for when Big Brother wants to know.
    I read fast enough that the reloading time for each page is an issue for me. So I’m waiting. (I’m enough of a humanist to think that the Big Brother issues will be resolved eventually!)

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  15. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    Wow, and here I thought there were only 2 kinds of e-readers.

    [Reply]

  16. Jenners

    I have a Kindle 2 and I love it … but I don’t read it very often because I have tons of other paper books to read. It is the only one that goes with me on vacation however. I was able to get quite a few free books that weren’t from Amazon though … so I’m not sure what you said is true. And I’m pretty sure you can read PDFs on it as well. If you’re interested, I did a review of my Kindle here:

    http://findyournextbookhere.blogspot.com/2009/03/kindle-2-my-initial-thoughts.html

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  17. Marie

    I LOVE my Kindle2! (I also read on my iPhone and love some of the eReaders – WattPad is great – but my Kindle is still my favorite.) The screen really, really, REALLY does read like a page of print. I know, you don’t believe it, but it’s true. The font size is adjustable (most are) so when my eyes get tired I don’t have to strain or stop reading… just up the size and all is well. The books are still a bit pricey, usually, although there are tons and tons of things that are inexpensive or free. And I’ve gotten lots of books from sources other than Amazon. You have to download via the USB cable, and the formatting is sometimes funky, but the info is all the same. Most classics are available for free – I’ve read a few that I’ve always “meant to” get to but never did because they were free on my Kindle. I would never carry Moby Dick in my purse, but I can on my Kindle!

    I’ve only ever used the Kindle, so I can’t comment on the pros and cons of any others, but if you’re hesitating to get an eReader because you think you only like to read “real books” give it a try. I’m am a four book a week reader (at least – more if I have a little free time!) and I will tell you that when I am reading from my Kindle I forget that it’s not a “real” book. I have even caught myself trying to “turn the page” the old-fashioned way, that’s how much the device gets lost to the experience. As for the refresh time being an issue – it’s not. I read in “chunks” and start turning the page as I am finishing the last of the previous page. Let’s face it, there’s a certain amount of “refresh” time with a real book too – you still gotta turn the page! You’ll find that you develop a rhythm for when to hit that button for smooth, seamless transitions.

    I haven’t even touched on some of the other cool features… like annotating, bookmarking, syncing with other devices (so you can read the same book on more than one device and it will automatically take you to the last page you read on the other device – works for Kindle-Kindle or Kindle to iPhone with the Kindle app), the built in dictionary for looking up unfamiliar words… and did I mention the Kindle Storefront – shop from your couch! My husband gets VERY NERVOUS when I am sitting quietly with my Kindle! There’s also experimental software that gives you (very primitive) internet access as well as a way to read RSS feeds and blogs, if that’s your thing. I also haven’t mentioned newspapers and magazines – read your favorites while saving a gazillion trees (and keeping the paper clutter to a minimum in your house).

    And an additional plug for Amazon – you may not like them “keeping track” of what you read (really, I could care less!) but the Whispernet is the most awesome thing ever. I love shopping in the Kindle store right from the device. You can download free samples of books so it’s almost like being in the store and browsing through the first few pages. You can read reviews, see other books by the same author, browse the best-seller lists… it’s a really big bonus for the Kindle, I think, over other eReaders. (And P.S. the library keeps track of what you read. I know, cuz I work in one. Next time you’re there, ask them to double check your account to see if you’ve already checked out a particular book – they’ll be able to tell you. It’s all computerized friends. It’s just that nobody really cares… most of us just aren’t that important. Unless of course you’re checking out books on how to overthrow a foreign government, but really, isn’t that what the internet is for?)

    Did I mention I LOVE MY KINDLE?!?

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  18. Kim L

    Well if I didn’t have to PAY for an e-reader, or pay for the books, or deal with evil Amazon, I think I would love an e-reader. Until such a time as someone can fix all of those problems for me, I guess I’ll have to stick with regular books. Ah well. If I traveled more, I think I would be all over the Kindle, though, not going to lie. Evil Amazon and all.

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  19. Beth F

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but the con to the iLiad and Kindle to me is no interface with the library. EPUB of Sony and Cool-er means one can download books from the library — for free.

    I think I might like my Sony eReader. I haven’t actually read a book on it yet because I’ve been too busy (hangs head in shame). My next book club read is on the Sony, so I’ll test it out soon.

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  20. Kathy

    The only reason I have an e-reader is because, like you, I was lucky enough to win one. I do love my Kindle, but I think a touch screen would be awesome!

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  21. Becky

    I have the original Kindle, and I LOVE it. I really don’t have anything to add to it, as I am smitten with it. In fact, I called it my new boyfriend in the post I wrote last November! 🙂 I’m glad you’re enjoying it too! (Can I also whisper how much I love my Kindle cover though too? I love my Oberon design cover?!? My original cover bent down the front after 1 month of use, so I spent the pricey $75 to get one of these beautiful pieces of art. No, I don’t work for them, but really want to say how great they are!)

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  22. Dreamybee

    I didn’t realize there were other readers out there besides the Kindle and the Sony either! That iRex iLiad…wow! I have a first-edition Kindle though, and I am very happy with it. The only constant complaint I have about it, in particular, is the lack of page numbers. The complaint that I have about e-readers in general is that if I want to go back and reread something, I have a hard time finding it because I don’t know where to look for it. With a paper book, I know, physically, where the part that I’m looking for is located-1/3 of the way through, upper left-hand side-I can’t do that with my Kindle, but I can always perform a search.

    I totally thought I would be anti-e-reader too, and my Kindle will never replace “real” books, but *whispers* I love my Kindle too!

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  23. Lauren R.

    I never thought I’d be interested in the whole e-reader evolution thing. I like having full bookshelves that I can look through and pick out what I want to read next. That being said, it looks as if I’ll be moving further from the best county library soon, and space issues will keep me from buying more books…and one of these E-readers seems like the perfect solution. Now if I could just come up with the cash… How soon is Christmas, anyway?

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  24. Jessica

    The only thing I care about is the page turning rate. I’m still holding out for one that scrolls, besides my old PDA. I like that the iLiad comes with a stylus, but even then, I’d have to see it in action.

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  25. M. B.

    I don’t know how old your post is, but I just bought the Sony E-Reader and it now has the capabilities of ordering via the reader. It is 3G!! Although… I am sad that I can’t read “kindle” books because everyone else is pre-ordering the Mockingjay on their kindles and I can’t even find a place to order it for the Sony reader, it needs to be an EPub book =( and I can’t find one anywhere!! Any suggestions??

    [Reply]

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