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Which eBook Reader is the Best? 469

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-still-waiting-for-holopaper dept.
Mistress.Erin writes "I cannot decide between Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader. I've read some reviews, but their motives can be somewhat suspect. So, I come to the most tech savvy group around to ask: which eBook reader is the best? If not Kindle or Reader, then what?" We've discussed this question before, but things have changed a bit since 2005.
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Which eBook Reader is the Best?

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  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:06PM (#21770218) Homepage Journal

    I've read some reviews, but their motives can be somewhat suspect.

    I'm actually more curious about why you wrote that than I am about the eBook readers in question.

  • by EggyToast (858951) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:06PM (#21770226) Homepage
    if you need an explanation as to why "not Sony," you don't read /. enough.
    • by db32 (862117) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:17PM (#21770438) Journal
      It seems to me that "not Amazon" is about an equal push so we are back to which one.
      • by orclevegam (940336) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:22PM (#21770532) Journal

        It seems to me that "not Amazon" is about an equal push so we are back to which one.
        Unless of course someone can nominate a third option with features comparable to the ones on offer from the other two corporate behemoths. My dream eBook reader would have support for txt, pdf, html, rtf, doc, and maybe a couple of the actual eBook formats, have an e-ink display with a optional light (for reading in the dark), have some form of wireless (either wifi or cell), and be small enough to fit in your pocket without needing a crowbar. They're getting pretty close at this point, but I don't think any of the ones on offer quite hit all the bullet points.
        • by rudeboy1 (516023) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:45PM (#21770954)
          Agreed. The reviews I've read for the Kindle are spot on, saying "wait for the 2nd generation". If Amazon will redesign the thing, so it doesn't look like it was made in the 80's, drop the need to email non proprietary file formats to Amazon so they can be converted, and add in support for hyperlinked files, I will be first in line. I have a pretty good size collection of books sitting on my computer that are in HTML help files, which allow for hyperlinking directly to footnotes, appendices, references in other parts of the book, etc. Build a device that can take these things natively (support for the occasional picture would be nice, too), and I will be on board.

          Oh, and for some reason, the idea of being able to just plug in a thumb drive to the side of these things has escaped both of these companies. I can understand Sony's argument, since they make a whole line of flash media, but SD cards and the like are for cameras, not for storing books.
          • by Ted Cabeen (4119) * on Thursday December 20, 2007 @07:17PM (#21772360) Homepage
            I know Amazon has been really bad in communicating this, but you can copy non-proprietary formats to the Kindle for free. TXT files are supported natively, and most other files can be converted to Mobipocket files (.mobi) by the Mobipocket conversion tools [mobipocket.com]. Once you have either a TXT or .MOBI file, you can copy it to the Kindle over the supplied USB cable. The $.10 transfer fee is only to use Amazon's converter and to copy the file across the Sprint wireless network. Yes, your HTML files aren't natively supported, but you can pretty easily convert those to MOBI (you may lose the hyperlinks, but the images should come through) and use them on a Kindle.
        • by peragrin (659227)
          actually i would rather have the larger size of the existing ones. That way you can read more than 5 lines of text at a time. I tend to speed read, reading multiple lines at the same time. having to stop and change pages every second is tiring.

          though i do agree with the other points. the only one that is close so far is the iRex Illiad. though you might as well buy four OLPC's and keep one for your self at that price.
        • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @08:38PM (#21773380) Journal

          Unless of course someone can nominate a third option with features comparable to the ones on offer from the other two corporate behemoths.

          Ask and you shall receive:
          http://www.bookeen.com/ebook/ebook-reading-device.aspx [bookeen.com]

          It supports the same DRM mobibook format that the Kindle does, also has unencumbered support for HTML, PDF and more, doesn't have the ugly casing or awkward controls that the Kindle has. And yes - it runs Linux.

          Happy to help,
          -H.
        • by ghostis (165022) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @10:17PM (#21774488) Homepage
          Well, the OLPC XO-1 handles most of those formats and has a daylight low power reading mode and a screen that flips around for tablet reading. Mine arrived yesterday. It is one of the coolest things I have ever play with. Completely silent too, won't bother folks around you in a quiet coffee shop. Has an SD card slot and wireless. Battery has good life and handles 2000 recharge cycles. Not quiet pocket sized though ;).
  • Neither... (Score:4, Informative)

    by proc_tarry (704097) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:06PM (#21770230)
    Don't support DRM technology.
    • by harrkev (623093)
      Agreed. If you buy something made from dead trees, you can keep it forever and still use it in 20 years, sell it on e-bay, loan it to friends/relatives. Also, dead trees do not need batteries (as long as you have enough light), never go obsolete, and you can still use it even if the publisher goes belly-up.

      Dead trees FTW.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by orclevegam (940336)

        If you buy something made from dead trees, you can keep it forever and still use it in 20 years, sell it on e-bay, loan it to friends/relatives. Also, dead trees do not need batteries (as long as you have enough light), never go obsolete, and you can still use it even if the publisher goes belly-up.
        Of course they're somewhat less useful in the dark, or when you need to transport 100 of them in a 1'x6"x1" space.
      • by vux984 (928602)
        DRM is a separate issue from merely being a digital copy.

        Plus you can't easily do full text searches on things made from dead trees, nor carry 10,000 of them in your pocket. Both have advantages.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pipatron (966506)

      And here is some propaganda material: http://www.defectivebydesign.org/DRMEbookFlyer [defectivebydesign.org]

  • I own some readers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Henry V .009 (518000) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:07PM (#21770248) Journal
    I own the original Sony Reader. If you mostly download your own books, then the new (PRS-505) Sony Reader is better than the Kindle. The Amazon ebook store is the biggest around, but it's still nothing compared to what is available in print. In fact, it's nothing compared to what's available on IRC.

    The best ebook reader around, however, is the Ebookwise 1150. The LCD screen doesn't have great resolution, but it has instant page-flip. The price can't be beat. The back-lighting is wonderful for night reading.

    If I were Amazon, I would have released a cheap reader to go along with my expensive reader. Something like the 1150, with just one or two modern improvements (USB file transfer).
    • Speaking of a back-lit reader, I wonder how difficult it would be to back-light an e-ink display. I like e-ink even if the refresh rate is less than stellar for the amazingly efficient energy usage, but adding a back-light that could be turned on at night would make it just about the perfect display for mostly static content such as that found in books.
      • It would be extremely simple. I've seen at least one do-it-yourself mod for the Sony Reader. The trick is to mount an LCD light on the frame (with its own battery if you feel like it), that shines down along the screen.
  • Tags (Score:5, Funny)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:07PM (#21770258)
    I'd just like to say, whoever tagged this 'jetsvssharks', I salute you for bringing Broadway musicals into a story about eBook readers.
  • Which reader? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mknewman (557587) * on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:08PM (#21770272)
    Personally I find both Kindle and Sony's reader too large. I use a Toshiba E805 PocketPC with VGA (640x480) to read books with either EReader.com's free reader or Mobipocket. The price is equivalent, about $400, but you can do far more with the PDA, it will surf the web decently, show movies, play games, play music, etc. You can even get a phone PDA that will let you download books and all kinds of other stuff over the air. I have a T-Mobile Dash and although small the screen is definately good enough to read books on too.
  • ebook readers (Score:2, Interesting)

    For the cost of the Kindle....you can get a cheap laptop, and be able to do more than just read a book. I read ebooks on an ancient Handspring Visor 8mb. Got it ages ago for about $30 on ebay.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JerryLove (1158461)

      For the cost of the Kindle....you can get a cheap laptop, and be able to do more than just read a book

      And the only downsides vs (say) Kindle?

      10x the weight.

      1/20th the battery life.

      No cell-net connectivity

      signifigantly larger closed

      Immensely larger open

      Much slower to come on / off

      can't really be used with one hand

      The list goes on. I love my laptop, but would never consider it as a book replacement. An E-Book reader is pretty much there.

    • Laser printer. Once rendered the batteries never go flat.
    • one word: OLPC (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bananatree3 (872975) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @07:05PM (#21772148)
      As I type on my new XO (just got it through the G1G1 program) in Black and white mode, I can attest to the screen's clarity. It is like reading a newspaper, and the refresh rate is far superior to both the sony/amazon readers. Sure, its "not a reader", it's bigger than the other readers and its only available for order for another two weeks. However, with the upcoming sw update it will have close to a day's worth of battery in reading mode. It is also about the same price as the readers, and it is a laptop w/ built in wifi. Show me a current ebook reader that you can go to a website and download your book/pdf/news story.

      If you want a fast refresh, laptop capability and wifi enabled, go with the OLPC. And, did I mention you could accidentally drop it and spill you coffee on it and it will still work?
  • iPod Touch....not (Score:4, Informative)

    by wish bot (265150) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:09PM (#21770310)
    It probably should be the iPod Touch, but the bloody thing doesn't allow viewing/opening/saving locally stored pdf's, unless you jailbreak it and install apache, php and god knows what else. Such a WASTE!
    • by filterban (916724)
      Patience, young padowan learner. The SDK is being released in February (or sooner). You'll see an eBook reader.
  • None of the above. Electronic books currently are nothing but publishers trying to kill used book resale, and I don't see why anybody should stand for it.
    • man, I've got thousands of books I bought used and I'm planning on getting an eBook reader in 2008.

      I don't get your statement at all.
      • man, I've got thousands of books I bought used and I'm planning on getting an eBook reader in 2008. I don't get your statement at all.

        I think the GP's post was intimating this question: once you get an eBook reader, how many used books do you think you'll continue to purchase?

        By moving to eBook, there is no resale because of DRM issues; everyone will have to buy their own "new copy."
      • man, I've got thousands of books I bought used and I'm planning on getting an eBook reader in 2008.

        The question isn't "Is an ebook reader a good deal for me today?", it's the much more interesting "What will the social result be if everyone gets an ebook reader with DRM?". The answer is simply that the publishers will have the full control over your use of written human knowledge that they've always wanted - which should be a prospect that makes the convenience argument seem largely irrelevant.

        This is a v

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spectecjr (31235)
      None of the above. Electronic books currently are nothing but publishers trying to kill used book resale, and I don't see why anybody should stand for it.

      Theoretically though, in time, the e-books should be much cheaper than the equivalent books. And the other reason to use e-books is one of convenience, which if you've got any kind of library you need to slough around with you every time you move house, you'd understand.

      Last time I did it, I just wanted to die. And then I decided "No, if I can get all my b
  • A PC/Mac/laptop/phone that can read a non-DRMed file that I bought with my own money because it's my copy and I should be able to copy it and back it up to whatever machine I want for my own personal use because the law says I can!
  • by illumin8 (148082) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:10PM (#21770340) Journal
    I would recommend the Kindle for only one big reason:

    - Text search capability

    It's hard to believe that in 2007, the latest Sony reader has no ability to search through the text of a book. This is important for technical reference manuals and textbooks, and was a dealbreaker for me. I don't use the Kindle store (other than to purchase one book when I first got it), so I leave the wireless off to save batteries.

    I find the Kindle is dead simple to use. Plug it into your computer with USB, drag some Mobipocket, RTF, or TXT files onto it (convert your .PDFs with free Mobipocket creator), and there you go. No DRM necessary, unless you buy books from the Kindle store.

    Also, some people will complain about no native PDF support on the Kindle. This is not a bad thing. Sony reader displays PDFs, but shrinks an entire 8.5x11 page down to the size of the tiny screen, so it's almost unreadable! This is why you must convert your PDFs into Mobipocket format first, so that the Kindle can resize the fonts, etc., and it becomes an actually readable e-book, and not a glorified thumbnail viewer.
  • ...would be to use a media player that can open text documents. Naturally this is not at all like reading a book (whereas Kindle is *a lot* like reading a book), but you can listen to music on the device while you read, which for portability does have its serious advantages, especially in a car or on a plane. I have a Cowon A2 for this, but there may be better options if you only need text + music.

    For what it's worth, from what friends whose tech-savviness I trust have told me, the Kindle is quite cool and
  • Nokia N800 or N810 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c41rn (880778) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:12PM (#21770380)
    I'm not sure what kinds of eBooks the OP plans on reading, but using the Linux-based Nokia N800 [wikipedia.org] or N810 internet tablets as eBook readers using FBReader [fbreader.org] is pretty popular. You can use the tablet for lots of other cool stuff too. You won't be able to read DRM'd stuff though.
  • I've been struggling with the same issue lately. From my own, non-professional opinion, as I plan to pick one or the other up in the next month or so (well, pending kindle is in stock, I guess).

    Pretty much the only 2 things I like about the Kindle are: Built-in wireless and Amazon.com's ebook selection appears to be greater. I love the idea that I can be on the bus and get the urge to pick up something and download it and start reading right then. I don't like how plastic-y it looks and I agree with tha
  • Do you want Kindle, Sony's eBook reader, PDF reader, TeX, LyX, Ghostview, or IrfanView?

    If you get your eBooks in a nice format like PDF, PostScript, or EPS then you can use any reader for those formats. A PDF reader is available for just about every platform. PostScript, TeX, and EPS aren't far behind. HTML's even a pretty good choice. If you can get your books in one of these formats, you can probably choose your device.

    If you choose your device first, there's a good chance you can't choose your format.
  • No DRM, No batteries, best prices!

    Beyond dead trees, neither of these both use DRM. First company with large publisher support, no DRM, excellent readability, low power use, extreme durability (drop the sucker in the ocean, or down the side of a mountain and it lives) will win this field. Like that'll happen! :^>
  • Sony PRS-505 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by csimpkin (808625) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:18PM (#21770452)
    I have the Sony PRS-505 and I love it. It feels wonderful. The screen is amazing (I believe it is the same screen as is used in the Kindle). I use linux, so I don't use the Sony Connect software. I use libprs500, which is a nice little program available for windows, linux and mac. I get my books from places like ebooks.com in Microsoft Reader (win2k in a virtual machine) format because the DRM can be broken and the files are easy to convert to a properly formatted PDF with OpenOffice. I only use the reader for reading books, so I can't speak to the quality of the music player. I can easily read 3000 pages on a charge. It is rated at 7500 page turns, but it still uses a tiny bit of power when it is just sitting there (unless you do an actual shutdown which is not obvious how to do and the startup time from completley off is significant). It took me about 25 pages of reading on the reader before I managed to stop admiring the device and get drawn into my book. Now, I can start reading a book and I almost forget I am using the reader.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Idaho (12907)

      I have the Sony PRS-505 and I love it. It feels wonderful. The screen is amazing (I believe it is the same screen as is used in the Kindle). I use linux, so I don't use the Sony Connect software. I use libprs500, which is a nice little program available for windows, linux and mac. I get my books from places like ebooks.com in Microsoft Reader (win2k in a virtual machine) format because the DRM can be broken and the files are easy to convert to a properly formatted PDF with OpenOffice.

      Yes. These steps sound

  • Emacs. (Score:4, Funny)

    by amper (33785) * on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:19PM (#21770472) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, definitely Emacs. The only eBook reader that can read things to you with a Lisp...
  • I have two answers (Score:2, Informative)

    by popvoid (607313)
    I have used both. I also occasionally read books on my laptop. For most purposes, the eInk readers are a lot easier to read than LCD displays. I prefer the Sony Reader. DRM is not that much of an issue to me because I generally buy or download my books from non-Sony sources, BUT--and this is a major point--if you are a Mac User (or a Linux user), I recommend the Kindle. Sony, in their infinite ignorance, does not support anything but Windows. The other factor that I would check on is how many books are avai
  • by angevin (1206066)
    The best Ebook reader is the Hanlin Ereader v3. It runs the Linux OS, it is not DRM based, and it supports the most book formats or otherwise file format freedom. It supports PDF, DOC, WOLF, HTML, MP3, TXT, RTF, CHM, FB2, Djvu, PNG, TIFF, GIF, RTF, and JPG formats.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Budenny (888916)
      Perhaps the V9 when it comes out? It seems to be the only one which is a decent size page. Should not be too long now.
  • ...it's the software - the DRM. I've been an eBook fan for a while - I love the convenience. I have read on many devices - but if you want to get the books that are "protected" then you immediately lock yourself into a scheme that will limit your choices.

    I have no experience with either device, but am tempted by both. Either comes with their own DRM hell. If the past and other devices are an indicator, I'd bet that Sony's reader is a beautiful piece of hardware that is utterly crippled by the software t
  • by IronChef (164482) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:24PM (#21770580) Homepage
    I do my reading on a Pocket PC, with uBook, which is great software. I haven't used FBReader but it looks good from afar. Can anyone compare them?

    When I saw the tiny Asus machine, "ebook" was the first thing I thought of. Battery life is not great, but I'd be willing to plug it in on the couch/in bed, reserving battery power for being away. My Pocket PC only runs for a few hours too, and it's almost always enough to get me back to a charger-YMMV.

  • the best book reader is wood pulp, pressed and cut into pages

    its cheap, its battery life is infinite, it has excellent contrast in bright light, and no DRM

    eBooks to me are like electronic voting or verbally asking computers natural language questions rather than using a keyboard: weird technofetishist fantasies that don't improve upon existing technology, and are forever doomed to fail

    you watch, kindle, and the sony reader will be forgotten in 6 months, like all the previous eBook tech that came with great
    • the best book reader is wood pulp, pressed and cut into pages

      The questions was the best e-book reader, not the best book reader.

      eBooks to me are like electronic voting or verbally asking computers natural language questions rather than using a keyboard: weird technofetishist fantasies that don't improve upon existing technology

      E-books certainly improve on paper books in information density and (with certain reader software and devices) search functionality, at a bare minimum. Whether those are important fea

  • Iliad Reader (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigPink (16156) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:25PM (#21770592)
    Why not consider the Iliad? It's an open (linux) platform, has wifi, a better screen than either of the others, and you can annotate books & make notes w/ the stylus. A bit pricier, tho:

    http://www.irextechnologies.com/products/iliad [irextechnologies.com]
    • by BACbKA (534028)
      If you can afford it, go for Iliad. Unlike Sony, it has very cool ergonomics, and feels much more like a book, especially because of its larger screen.
  • I'm afraid I got bored waiting for a reasonably priced ePaper doohicky, and went for a much cheaper (slightly used) Tablet PC instead. It can open every file, has built-in wireless, tons of internal storage, good battery life, easy to view screen, doesn't have a ridiculously feature-free OS* or software that refuses to open files due to obscure file-flags, doesn't suffer from terrible software vendor lock-in and it also plays music and movies to boot. Cooler still, it's also a decent computer.

    * Ahh! But doe

  • The XO from OLPC? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ugmo (36922) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:27PM (#21770634)
    The XO Laptop display is visible in full daylight. Its software is completely open. It can read and display open formats like plain text and PDF. It can download the files from the Internet using WiFi. It has extremely low power consumption and if you find yourself too far away from an outlet, you can charge it yourself. For the cost of a Kindle from Amazon you can buy an XO and donate one to a child.

    From the specs page of the XO PC at One Laptop Per Child:

    http://laptop.org/laptop/hardware/specs.shtml [laptop.org]

            * Liquid-crystal display: 7.5" Dual-mode TFT display;
            * Viewing area: 152.4mm × 114.3mm;
            * Resolution: 1200 (H) × 900 (V) resolution (200 DPI);
            * Monochrome display: High-resolution, reflective sunlight-readable monochrome mode; Color display: Standard-resolution, Quincunx-sampled, transmissive color mode;
            * LCD power consumption: 0.1 Watt with backlight off; 0.2-1.0 Watt with backlight on;
            * The display-controller chip (DCON) with memory that enables the display to remain live with the processor suspended; the display and this chip are the basis of our extremely low power architecture; the display controller chip also enables deswizzling and anti-aliasing in color mode.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by FlyingFork (1202361)

      I know of a guy in my office who bought an XO for just that purpose. He brought it in to show it off. To be honest, from what I have seen it's perfect for reading ebooks. Course, that was one of the things it was made for. But at $400.00 its a little pricey.
      • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @06:20PM (#21771542) Homepage
        Where do you get the eBooks?

        The thing about the Kindle is that it has a lot of eBooks available that are

        1. not mostly old things that are public domain
        2. not too expensive
        The Kindle appears to be the first eBook reader for which someone who is a reasonably avid current reader has a chance of satisfying most of the reading needs with, without spending a lot more money (other than the initial cost of the device itself). As far as the device cost, note that this is offset somewhat by the reduced storage costs. For someone who buys and keeps a lot of books, the savings in not needing to buy as many bookshelves could actually be more than the cost of the unit!

        For those looking for an eBook reader that also lets you read your own files, and things like that, the Kindle isn't there. But for those looking for something that is an alternate way to deal with books, it looks like the best so far.

    • Re:The XO from OLPC? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chalex (71702) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:46PM (#21770966) Homepage
      I bought one, and I am very impressed with the screen (not so much with the keyboard). It costs the same as the Kindle (for us), and does so much more, and has more pixels.

      Posting this from my XO.
  • The question can't be answered without knowing what is important.

    If you don't need the extreme runtime epaper can provide (no power use when displaying static text... except for the Kindle if you don't disable the radio.) just get a small laptop, tablet computer or pda. The Nokia handheld has close to the same number of pixels in smaller space so the dpi is actually better.

    For epaper devices it really comes down to three choices, Amazon, Sony or Other

    Amazon is selling you a cell phone with an epaper displa
  • Nowadays, I tend to read eBooks with less(1) but I once used dictator [kieranholland.com]. It displays the file word by word with speed adaptating to punctuation. It feels very strange to read text with it but it's not entirely unpleasing.
  • no pinhead can come along and take the writing off the pages once you've bought it.
  • I have been reading ebooks for years using whatever PDA I have been carrying around (currently: a Palm TX). I have a large library of non-DRM ebooks: a bunch of stuff that's so old it is out of copyright (for example, the Sherlock Holmes stories), and a bunch of Baen ebooks.

    I plug Baen every chance I get: they give away some ebooks for free, they sell the others at good prices, they offer multiple formats, and they don't wrap the books in DRM.

    Baen Free Library (free ebooks) [baen.com]

    Baen books for sale [webscription.net]

    Most of my rea
  • The XO laptop (Score:2, Redundant)

    by dmayle (200765) *
    I don't see why no one else has noticed this, but how about the XO laptop (a.k.a. the OLPC)? Besides being the same price as the kindle, (including giving one to a child in need with a $200 tax deductible donation) with a dual-mode display: one a conventional color LED laptop screen, the other a sunlight-readable, black-and-white e-book [laptop.org] The software interface [laptopgiving.org] is truly incredible. The color display only uses 1 watt, and the e-book monochrome display only consumes 0.2 watts. It's rugged, has built-in wifi
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:36PM (#21770816)
    I don't own one so I could be misreading, but if I understand correctly, Kindle has free wireless internet access via the Sprint network, which is itself pretty valuable. I hear its browser sucks, but it's still better than nothing. It also apparently has some alternate (non-sucky-browser) interface to Wikipedia, and just being able to look up Wikipedia articles for free over a wireless cell network seems like a fairly useful feature, at least for those of us who aren't willing to shell out monthly or per-KB fees for wireless internet on our cell phones.
  • I have the new Sony reader (PRS 505) and love it. It's sleek, comfortable to hold, easy to read, has excellent battery life, has plenty of storage built in, supports sony and sd flash cards, runs linux, works fine with all OSes I've plugged it into (osx, linux, & windows). You're not limited to DRMed formats either -- out of the box it suports the DRMed and non-DRMed sony format, txt, rtf, and pdf. PDF is a bit annoying with 8.5x11 formatted documents. The BBeB format is probably the "best" in the sens
  • I looked at the Sony reader in Costco and the Kindle online.

    The real nice thing about the E-Ink devices (Sony Reader, Kindle, Bookeen, ...) is the very high resolution and effective infinite refresh this makes it real easy on the eyes when you are reading for hours at a time.

    The Sony is sleek and well designed, didn't like being locked into one store though. I ended up getting a Bookeen Gen3 and am very happy so far -- it weighs very little and looks much nicer than the Kindle. It supports the Mobip
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Infinite refresh? I thought they only refreshed on demand. Like when a page is turned, or a font change.
      I can't wait for eBooks to take off, it will bring a whole new level to story telling.
      Writing text with different fon't won't be a nightmare, interactive drawings.

  • eReader owner (Score:2, Informative)

    by sfranklin (95470)
    I own a Sony eReader PRS-505. I got it to use mainly when I travel internationally, it's wonderful to carry 10+ hours of reading material in one slim package. I've found that it's also fine for everyday use. I use the USB cable (comes with the reader) to hook up to my WinXP laptop for charging and updating content.

    You can get books either through Sony's eBook site or by uploading RTFs and PDFs. (And a few other formats, that I don't use.) I have yet to buy a book from Sony, but I'm a big sci-fi reader so I'
  • HanLin (Score:4, Interesting)

    by J. T. MacLeod (111094) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:48PM (#21771018)
    You won't find it at BestBuy, but take a look at the HanLin eReader [jinke.com.cn].

    The current model is about the same as the Kindle, minus the wireless, nice button interface, and DRM, and plus some real format support (PDF, various images, even doc files to some extent).

    The new model due out in the early part of the new year will make ebooks are really worth looking at. 825x1200 resolution on a ten inch screen with PDF support makes me very interested.
  • by DrRobert (179090) * <rgbuice@maAUDENc.com minus poet> on Thursday December 20, 2007 @05:49PM (#21771036) Homepage
    Two reasons that there is value to an ebook reader over PDA or laptop:

    1. The eInk screen is substantially easier to read. The Sony 2G is actually uncanny... looks like stickers stuck on the screen. The Kindle is much less contrasty and harder to read.

    2. Battery life. eInk does not use significant power unless you are turning the page, so the battery life of these things is on the order of 1week plus with heavy usage. When I have used laptops or PDAs for reading, the batteries die quickly (before I want to stop reading).

    Comparing the two.

    Sony:
          Much more contrast on screen. Very easy to read.
          Smaller
          Lighter
          Much more intuitive user interface. It has multiple choice buttons for navigations.
          Better physical design with buttons in convenient positions
          Feels more solid and less cheap than Kindle
          Software allows you to retag and organize files.
          DRM and limited store is a big minus.
          Better multiple format support

    Kindle:
          Staggeringly bad industrial design. Only really one good way to hold the thing without hitting one of the buttons which inexplicably are found on every side.
    Want to turn up the contrast on the screen.
    Bizaarr user interface that requires scrolling and multiple clicks with a secondary lcd screen to perform simple functions.
    Keyboard take a lot of space.
    No software to tag and oragnize files. So the list of files on the device is unweidly, long, and filled with incomprehensible tags from Gutenberg, Manybooks, or Fictionwise.
    Very restrictive DRM which cancels out its advantage of having a much larger and easier to use store for books.
    Wireless is good for subscribing to periodicals, not much else.
    Amazon has a staggeringly inefficient mail-in system for conversion. No conversion has worked well so far, strange spacing and formatting even in simple documents.
    They need simple PC software to manage the thing. The self-contained bit is inefficient and a waste of wireless and organization.

    I figure there are three kinds of reader:

    1. Like me - buy and keep books forever. Neither reader much good because DRM keep you from owning the books forever, just until the store dies or you want to change to a better competing reader.
    2. Buy books read and resell - no right-of-resale with either device.
    3. Buy "beach books" and throw them away. Both readers were made for you with the Kindle having a better store.

         
  • It has a 1200x900 mono display (lower color resolution) that approaches paper quality and is just about perfect for this sort of thing.

    Display size is a bit small but it's more than usable, especially when folded up with the display out. All open source (Linux, etc.) and a bargain at twice the price (which is what you'd be paying; but take comfort in the fact that in addition to an electronic toy for yourself you'll be contributing to the education of a child elsewhere in the world).
  • I mainly use a Flybook [flybook.com] subnotebook at 8.9", with enough batteries for about 15 hours of use (if I carry all batteries with me). An HTC Universal [wikipedia.org], with more than 15 hours of use (again if I carry both of its batteries) is a helpful alternative in cases I need something smaller. A few times I use other devices as well, but these are the ones most useful for ebooks. Coupled with 3G UMTS or 3.5G HSDPA they ar wonderful, especially the Flybook, which can be used easily even while walking. It isn't the "perfe

  • XO laptop! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rlk (1089) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @06:06PM (#21771322)
    bbaston on Groklaw received his XO laptop (see this story [groklaw.net]) seems to think that it will work really well for that purpose. I'm going to find out in a few weeks. Give one, get one!
  • by JasonKChapman (842766) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @06:30PM (#21771670) Homepage

    If you want it for the reading experience, get the Sony.

    If you want it so that everyone will think you're geeky, get the Kindle.

    If you want it because you're truly geeky, get the Irex Iliad [irextechnologies.com].

    There's more information than you ever wanted to know about e-book hardware, software, formats, etc. at MobileRead [mobileread.com]

  • by GarfBond (565331) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @06:59PM (#21772054)
    I got to play with the latest Sony Reader revision at a bookstore the other day. I have to say, it's actually a pretty attractive device now. If you can get past the fact that it's from Sony (a hard tidbit to overlook, I know), you might come away plesantly surprised. The screen is nice, as you might expect. They don't waste any space including a keyboard like on the Kindle, so about 85% of the entire device face is screen, and not much else. If you're not a fan of large bezels or are a fan of the full-screen iPhone experience, you'll like the Reader.

    The hardware is actually surprisingly attractive. The body itself has a nice brushed metal feel to it now, not unlike a MacBook Pro. Buttons were a silver plastic I believe. The device is also really thin, which was a nice change over the first Reader I saw, as that one was a little on the chunky side.

    This being a store demo unit, I did not get to try out the Sony Connect store. This being Sony though, I'm not surprised if the experience had a tendency to suck. The Sony Connect music store's already been shut down, if you were curious how that effort was going in general.

    Read the Ars review [arstechnica.com] if you want a more real-life experience though. Personally, I'd like the Sony Reader hardware and exterior combined with the Amazon software and EVDO connection as an ideal ebook reader.

  • by SwiftOne (11497) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @07:01PM (#21772068)
    Having just gone through this process, allow me to pass on what I learned about the process.

    1) Know what you are getting into.
    Ebooks have some great advantages. However:
    * DRM is common
    * books are pricey
    * selection is very limited

    If you're still interested, continue.

    2) LCD vs Eink
    I read a lot on my Palm. Now that I have an eink reader, I'm not going back, I never thought LCD was "hard" to read on until I read on something else. However, eink means $$$ and few choices, while there's a number of established as well as new LCD devices for much, much less. LCDs can also scroll, while the eink has a .5-2 second refresh time. LCDs can have color while eink hasn't gotten that far.

    Your question implies you've picked, so we'll continue on, but others are recommended to visit a Borders and take a peek at a demo Sony Reader - the viziplex screen is pretty much the same for all the major eink readers.

    3) Pros and Cons
    There are basically 4 readers to choose from here (ignoring the fringe players):
    Bookeen
    Sony
    Kindle
    Iliad

    Iliad has some real perks, but I wanted a reader not a computer, and certainly not $700 worth.

    Bookeen has some nice features, but after my painful Zaurus experience, I wanted to stick to something intended for my language and a little more commercial support. When I bought my reader, the Cybook was still finishing off the rough spots. It may now be worthy of consideration, as it has a much wider selection of formats than the Sony Reader.

    Kindle - though it wasn't out when I got my reader, it came out shortly afterward. Major Pros are wireless access to snag books, improved book selection (still limited), and much better prices on books. Major Con is the highly restrictive DRM. That latter is what kept me content with my Sony.

    Sony - My eventual choice. It takes props as one of the only technology choices I didn't quickly regret. It has its limitations, most notably the crappy book selection, even crappier prices, and the eink refresh time. But it does what it tries to do reliably well.

    Here are the things about the Sony reader that the review may not cover (505 only, not always true for 500)

    It's a USB Mass storage device - so you can install books from any computer. What's more, it takes SD cards (and memory sticks, but I haven't mucked with that), and when the card is in the reader and the reader is connected to the computer, the card also appears as a drive on the USB device. I've been able to use my Reader on multiple computers, Windows and Linux, with no issue. There is no need to use the Sony software except to download from their crappy bookstore.

    You may see talk of a credit at the bookstore - that's for "Sony Classics" only, i.e. books you can grab off of Gutenburg for free. I recommend you turn to mobileread.com for your ebook needs and wait for Amazon et al to get a clue like they have (started) with Mp3s. Either way, don't factor the $100 credit into your comparison.

    The Sony Reader can handle LRF (it's propriety but not necessarily DRM'ed format) well, offering hyperlinking and 3 levels of magnification along with landscape/portrait modes. It can also handle TXT (I believe the zoom offerings are the same). PDF is also handled, but (1) Not "Digital Editions" (Adobe's DRMed books) and (2) It only offers 2 "sizes". Most PDF books come across as very small even when I have it zoomed and landscape. RTF doesn't resize in my experience, but it works well enough. Notably HTML, Mobi, Palmdoc, Word doc, and Openoffice formats aren't supported.

    Installing a book can be done with their crappy wanna-be Itunes like software...or you can drag and drop via USB and ignore that. I recommend the latter.

    The charge for me, reading a couple of hours each day, is a little less than a week. It charges off of USB no problem, standard mini connector. Your current position in books is lost if it goes dry, but nothing else, including hard boo

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