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It's 2010; What's the Best E-Reader? 684

jacob1984 writes "A few years ago there was a question about which e-reader was the best. Since then, the market has been flooded with new additions, many of them more open than others. Have you bought one yet? If so, which one did you find best and why?"
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It's 2010; What's the Best E-Reader?

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  • Answer: (Score:2, Insightful)

    A laptop.

    Reads all file formats, browses the internet at hot-spots or anywhere with add-ons, variable brightness, 32-bit color, access to free bookstores (The Pirate Bay being the most popular free store) and much more functionality that one couldn't eke out of small overpriced pieces of shit like the Kindle or -- ha HA! -- the iPad.

    And yes, laptops do run Linux
    • Re:Answer: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:18PM (#31138176)
      It's too damn heavy. I use a nokia n800 some but the screen is a little small. I'm eyeing the iPad. It looks like it's close to what I want and the wifi one is not too pricey. It may be a little big though.....must research more.
    • Re:Answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:20PM (#31138204)

      The don't have e-ink. Game over.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The iPad has iInk (which is just a revolutionary way of saying it has an LCD screen).

    • Re:Answer: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:20PM (#31138210) Homepage
      Personally, I prefer my desktop. It may not be portable, but the screen's much bigger and with my bad vision, that's an important consideration.
    • by rjch ( 544288 )

      A laptop.

      Personally, I'd have said "a netbook", but maybe I'm just splitting hairs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by rossdee ( 243626 )

      I use a desktop, it has a 28 inch screen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sowth ( 748135 ) *

      Pirate Bay is the best source for books? I don't think so. Project Gutenberg [] is the best source for books, unless you want technical manuals--then it depends upon what you need. There seems to be plenty of public domain and creative commons sources for those. (linux documentation prj., freebsd,, etc...)

      Or were you looking for modern teeny bopper crap? Just look for "fan fiction" sites (Halo [] is "wonderful"), or just about any site [] which allows teenage girls to publish a "book." But then,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        No - its because its the best place to get books free. Not GP but tried Gutenberg and TPB has both a bigger selection and easier to download (i.e. 100 of books a time), also available in many diff formats.

        And yes, a publisher pays everyone who has a different opinion to you - as part of a convoluted conspiracy to make slash-dot pro-pirate!
      • Re:Answer: (Score:4, Informative)

        by Draek ( 916851 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @10:06PM (#31139692)

        Pirate Bay is the best source for books? I don't think so. Project Gutenberg is the best source for books, unless you want technical manuals--then it depends upon what you need.

        Mildly off-topic, but for Project Gutenberg books I'd greatly recommend [], they have most of the PG books available in multiple formats (and I *do* mean multiple, check it out) and with user reviews to help you find the better ones.

  • The Sony (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:13PM (#31138130)

    By a very long mile. Great format support, including many open formats, great quality too.

    • Re:The Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

      by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) * <> on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:16PM (#31138160)
      Plus you can mount it under Linux and just copy over your books. My wife has a PRS-500. It's a little slow, but it is one of the earliest models. Definitely the most consumer-friendly option.
      • Re:The Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:07PM (#31138652)
        I find it very surprising that the most open eReader on the market today is the Sony. I always though that was one of the 7 signs of the apocalypse. They must be catching on to what consumers actually want. ... I hope Apple is paying attention.

        I've heard the Iliad is amazing, but I think it's about 700$.
        • Re:The Sony (Score:5, Informative)

          by WuphonsReach ( 684551 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:34PM (#31138888)
          I find it very surprising that the most open eReader on the market today is the Sony. I always though that was one of the 7 signs of the apocalypse. They must be catching on to what consumers actually want. ... I hope Apple is paying attention.

          Yeah, I was rather wary about buying my PRS-505 two years ago, but went ahead and took the plunge when they got below $300. I'm extremely happy with it as it does exactly what I want for leisure, cover-to-cover reading. Open formats, a no-DRM source of books (Gutenberg and Baen's Webscription), and the fact that it stays the hell out of my way when I want to read. Takes a few weeks for the battery to wear down and I keep 200-300 books on it.

          I've averaged 1 book every week or two for the past 2 years on it.

          Very much a no-muss no-fuss e-reader. Which is a key selling point.
        • Re:The Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

          by quenda ( 644621 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:11PM (#31139202)

          I find it very surprising that the most open eReader on the market today is the Sony.

          Sony is a huge corporation. While the left hand is suing downloaders and rootkitting customers, the right hand is sneaking off and selling DivX players.
          I was pleasantly surprised to put a home-burned DVD with 720p mpeg4 avi movie in a PS3, and it just played!

        • Re:The Sony (Score:4, Informative)

          by Lunatrik ( 1136121 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:15PM (#31139246)
          I've owned an Illiad and a PRS-300 now, and the PRS-300 wins hands-down for reading books. The Illiad was handy for taking notes, but really just wasn't up to snuff for heavy note-taking, and was generally slower than the PRS. The PRS also wins on price and battery life. And, yes, Calibre is a must with Sony's.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dare nMc ( 468959 )

          Why would you call the sony's "most" open? From what I see very few of the sony readers support any format but e-pub, the only readers that don't support that format is the kindle and Illiad. So it seams it is more open than those 2 e-readers. Sure it runs linux, like many others, but with only the 505 having a memory card it seams the least hackable of the many readers running linux.

          The nook currently seams more open, it is fairly easy to hack, requiring only a micro-sd card, having wifi access, pdf ac

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TBedsaul ( 95979 )

          They can have my PRS-500 when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

          I just got it back from Sony after the firmware upgrade and I found it hard to get by without while it was gone. No DRM, no restrictions. It's mine and I can use it as I see fit. Those are the highest recommendations I can think of these days.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Agreed, PRS-300 is probably one of the best e-book readers out at the moment if all you want to do is read novels front to back.

        • Re:The Sony (Score:4, Informative)

          by rotenberry ( 3487 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @10:28PM (#31139860)

          PRS-300 has two advantages: no WiFi and no touch screen.

          Neither Sony nor anyone else can hack in and erase your ebooks.

          A touchscreen is makes the characters less crisp, more muddy. I much prefer clear text to the minor advantages of a touchscreen.

          And it works well with Linux. Now if Sony did not supply such lame software...

    • Re:The Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:11PM (#31139206) Journal

      And I must add - pick the one without touchscreen. It's not particularly useful for reading fiction books, anyway (and reading tech books on those things isn't very convenient), and it darkens the screen. Readers without touchscreen have noticeably better contrast, which means less eye strain.

    • Re:The Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <<deleted> <at> <>> on Monday February 15, 2010 @03:59AM (#31141746)

      Didn’t you all swear to boycott Sony, after the rootkit debacle? ;)

  • None of them have really, for my uses, caught up to iSilo for one of my black-and-white Palm systems. I mean, they're better, except they aren't small, portable, and able to use arbitrary quantities of completely DRM-free material with free conversion from basically any format.

    Or if they have, they haven't yet revealed this. I really do prefer to have reading be a function of a device which I can do other things on, but none of the current of general-purpose gizmos are anywhere near the battery life of th

  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:23PM (#31138230)
    It reads pretty much anything non DRM I can throw at it, and it fits in my pocket.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

      and it fits in my pocket

      I have a 770 and an iRex iLiad and, although the 770's screen is one of the nicest TFT's I've ever used, the iLiad's eInk is much nicer. The form factor, however, is a problem. The 770, which is the same size as the N800, fits (along with a folding keyboard) into a jacket pocket. The iLiad doesn't. That means I can take the 770 to a lot of places where the iLiad would be inconvenient. I'd love to have a device with a fold-out or roll-up eInk screen that was the same physical size as the 770 (or smaller

    • I use my N800 daily, too ... to play Klondike. The FBReader software [] is a terrible user interface. A pity, really.

      So I've tried to use my laptop. I've tried installing Amazon's Kindle for PC [] under Wine. It installs but won't run, so I don't know if it's suitable for reading or not.

      Calibre [] seems intended for downloading and feeding data to devices like the Sony reader.

      All in all, the laptop doesn't seem to be a good candidate for curling up with a book. If I perch it on my stomach it has a habit of spontaneo

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      I have been using my Nokia N810 to read ebooks recently. It does not have the all the pros of a dedicated e-book reader like non bright readable screen and long battery but it is enough for the occasional (non-drm encumbered) e books I read. If I was reading more on ebook I would probably go for a dedicated device. However none of them really caught my eyes...

  • Works for me, unit is small enough to carry with a screen big enough for me to read. Stanza works well enough and I also have music, movies, games etc.

    • Sadly, that also happens to burn my eyes out. It needs e-ink or something like it to really be a player.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NightRain ( 144349 )
        Black background with white text and dynamic brightness adjustment have all let me get by without eye strain on my iPhone. I get that e-ink is no doubt better, but the non dedicated devices still tend to have options that don't make your eyes bleed...
  • Just got a Nook (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zwede ( 1478355 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:23PM (#31138234)

    Reason I went with the Nook is that it accepts non-DRM epub files (kindle does not).

    For its intended use it is OK. But it also has its issues. The menus are sluggish. I have had a few crashes (automatic reboots).

    I'm sure ebooks is an area where we will see massive improvements in the next year or two. Faster e-ink screens, in color, and touch sensitive (rather than having a separate touch screen).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BerntB ( 584621 )
      Can the Nook handle password-protected PDFs? (Some publishers sells ebooks like that.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Stele ( 9443 )

      I put non-drm books on my Kindle all the time. There is a free program called Calibre which can convert between formats and install the files on the Kindle automatically.

  • The Book. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:34PM (#31138336)
    Featuring an easy to learn lift and turn interface, people can pick up a Book and just start reading! And Book has been specifically designed to interoperate with your existing Shelves(tm).
    • I'm told they're a little short on internal storage though- even the bulkiest models struggle to contain more than a couple of thousand pages of text. Heavy too, and fragile. Completely DRM laden- the texts you buy are almost impossible to transfer to other devices, and if you lose the original you can't make a backup.

      Did I mention how expensive each volume is?

      Not waterproof?

      No backlight?

      Search feature?

      I'll hang on for Book 2.0...

    • Re:The Book. (Score:5, Informative)

      by selven ( 1556643 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:55PM (#31138548)

      Ah yes, this old meme. Unfortunately, books fail hard at carrying capacity. One book I picked out of my shelf has 57 chars per line * 36 lines per page * 774 pages = 1588248 bytes, and one of those takes up a full pocket. I can have a few thousand of those in an ebook reader, which also takes up one pocket.

    • That must be a real nuisance.

  • The way I see it, all e-book readers have at least one fatal flaw that defeats the whole purpose of the thing. The Kindle, etc. are too large and drm encumbered. Likewise, most devices have proprietary quirks and restrictions I just won't bother dealing with.

    Only the iPhone/iPodTouch + GoodReader app + pdfs combo actually satisfies my mobile book reading needs: I'm carrying the phone anywhere anyways, the screen size has proven itself big enough for reading (though one has to get used to it) the app ment
  • The entourage edge? (Score:3, Informative)

    by My-Kung-Fu-Is-Best ( 898773 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:40PM (#31138392)
    The entourage edge It's not available yet (set to ship in March 2010), but it looks like its got what most people want and then some. I might be getting one myself. I've been hesitant, like most, because of price, ease of use, screen size, etc... It's not too much more than some of the other readers, so it might be a nice alternative. []
  • Cybook Opus (Score:3, Informative)

    by mattbee ( 17533 ) <> on Sunday February 14, 2010 @07:50PM (#31138484) Homepage

    I bought my dad a Cybook Opus [] for Christmas - sturdy, simple, wasn't too expensive, just epub support, no ties to a publisher/DRM. Not used it myself but Dad seems pretty happy.

  • Probably the best device for reading books is not an e-reader. If you want to use books in the old style, but digital, there dedicated e-readers could be good enough, and are several good ones. But if you have to carry a device anyway, maybe that does more than just reading ebooks is part of the things that adds weight (in both senses) to other alternatives.

    For me not having to carry an extra, dedicated device is one big advantage for me. Desktop computers, notebooks, netbooks, tablets, and even cellphones
  • The Skiff Reader has a flexible touchable screen with more viewable area and resolution than the Kindle DX, while still being thinner and lighter.
    Unfortunately, it's still a bit vapor-ish, and I don't think the consortium of publishers backing it are the right people for the job. Online distribution needs a strong device maker and/or store manager to keep the old media types in line, otherwise they'll just keep raising prices and restrictions, trying to make sure there is no threat to their traditional bus

  • by Paracelcus ( 151056 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:12PM (#31138690) Journal

    IMHO, is the Aztak EZReader Pocket Pro 5" with the Ectaco Jet Book Lite as a follow up.

    The Kindle is an expensive way to get locked in to a single vendor, as is the Nook.
    The Sony is crippled by very restrictive DRM.
    WiFi/Wimax is very tough on batteries and unnecessary to the functioning of an ebook reader.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:27PM (#31138798) Homepage

    ...fooled me twice, shame on me.

    I bought a Nuvomedia Rocket eBook in 2000 over the counter at Barnes and Noble. (The company and products were acquired by Gemstar and marketed for many years as the Gemstar REB-1200).

    The device itself was fine. More than good enough. 20 hour battery life and that was for real. I read many long novels for pleasure on it. I took it on trips and loved the convenience of being able to carry eight full-length books with me in a device with the same size and weight as one trade paperback. Of course 2010 devices are better in every way, but the Rocket eBook was good enough.

    What was not good enough was DRM.

    I've been taught a lesson. I am now the proud owner of over $300 worth of useless bits. They are encrypted and keyed to a serial-numbered hardware device which bit the dust last year. In theory, this is no problem, as the books and Gemstar's record of my ownership remains on the servers. All I need to do is buy a new device, call Gemstar customer service, have them reencode my books with the new device serial number, and download them again. Except that Gemstar doesn't exist, Gemstar customer service doesn't exist, and the servers were shut down long ago.

    Because of another limitation of DRM--I couldn't share my books with my wife even if she had her own Rocket eBook reader, which she didn't, she didn't know that I had purchased an e-copy for $15, and bought her own paper copy for $15. She can still read her copy. She will still be able to read it twenty years from now. She can lend it to a friend. She can sell it on eBay.
    Scarcely five years after purchase, I cannot read mine and will never be able to read it again.

    eBooks should cost far, far less than print books, not merely because their marginal cost of production is tiny, but because they deliver far less value than a print book.

    I've seriously considered writing to Jeff Bezos and saying I will only buy a Kindle if he will arrange to get me free Kindle copies of all the books I bought, which the eBook industry has rendered useless piles of bits. The word theft gets thrown around rather casually with DRM gets discussed. Well, I feel that denying me access to the books I bought and paid for in good faith is theft. When the eBook industry, as represented by Amazon, is willing to make me whole, then I will start buying eBook devices and content again.

    • by Eric Green ( 627 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:08PM (#31139184) Homepage
      The average print science fiction paperback sells approximately 20,000 copies (this is an actual number from an actual mid-level author who has a good reputation in the industry). The majority of the cost of a print science fiction paperback is not the marginal cost of production, which is miniscule -- it costs less than $1 to print and ship a typical mass-market paperback. Rather, the majority of the cost of a print science fiction paperback is related to the costs of creating the actual content -- the editor, the proofreader, the cover artist, and the author's advance, which is probably going to be about $12,000 on that paperback (and figure he's going to get around $8,000 more in eventual royalties before the book goes out of print). Baen appears to believe that if you price ebooks at approximately $2 less than paperbacks and sell them direct, you can make the same amount of profit that you made from selling paperbacks. That's probably a reasonable indication that the price of producing an ebook is not much less than the price of producing a paperback novel, because Baen can price ebooks this way only because they're selling direct, without the $2 markup imposed by the supply chain.

      I do agree, however, that the DRM situation is one decided reason to avoid e-books right now. The DRM situation is driving piracy right now because I, like you, am not going to invest large sums of money into throw-away content. I have files on my computer that are 25 years old now, that have been faithfully transferred from one computer to the next first via RS-232 serial cable and XMODEM, and later via Ethernet and either FTP or a network file sharing protocol. They're all still (mostly) readable because I avoided proprietary file formats, even though the first computer involved in this chain was a Commodore 64 and the last one is an Apple Macbook Pro. I cannot conceive of any scenario where I would allow a proprietary file format with no means of translating it into any other format exist on my computer.

    • by Low Ranked Craig ( 1327799 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @11:58PM (#31140448)

      eBooks should cost far, far less than print books, not merely because their marginal cost of production is tiny, but because they deliver far less value than a print book

      Not at all true. almost everything that has to be done to produce a print book needs to be done to produce an e-book.

      Editing, typesetting, formatting, proofing, marketing, artwork, etc all still needs to be done. Only the distribution is different. In one case you're printing a book (an automated manufacturing process) or you're publishing a book to an e-marketplace (a bunch of servers, software and bandwidth (not free)). The reality is that the great majority of the cost in producing a book is labor, and it's all still required, regardless of print or electronic distribution, so while printed materials may cost more to produce, the cost difference is not the huge amount that people seem to think it is.

  • by Eric Green ( 627 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:54PM (#31139058) Homepage
    The situation in ebook readers today reminds me of the situation in portable digital music players in April 2003, the month Apple introduced the iTunes Store. There were literally thousands of portable digital music players out there, the vast majority of which looked like portable USB keyfobs as far as operating systems were concerned, all of which played open unencrypted mp3 files. Then there was Apple selling their own proprietary-DRM'ed music files -- but it was integrated with the computer hardware and with their iPod music players. In the end people decided the convenience of having one application handle all their content whether local or located on a portable device was more important than the DRM, and the iPod won the portable digital music player contest by a landslide.

    Right now, there are only three players that integrate content, software, and hardware: Sony, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Amazon's Kindle wins the content war by a landslide, but their hardware looks dated and obsolete compared to the new readers from Sony and B&N. Sony's content situation is horrible -- books from Sony's ebook store actually cost more than paper books purchased in bookstores! The Nook right now is unobtainium and a bit unstable, as you'd expect from version 1.0 of a product, but is decidedly better hardware.

    The wildcard is Apple. Will they do for ebooks what they did for digital music? The problem is that the iPad will have, realistically, a 5 hour battery life in normal usage, and that just isn't enough for most situations where I might haul my e-book reader. If I'm doing an intercontinental flight that is 10 hours long, a 5 hour battery life is a "don't even bother" for me. My Sony e-reader, on the other hand, will happily let me read books for 10 hours at a time, and still have plenty of battery life left, thanks to the e-ink display. It's just that my selection of content is rather limited -- all I have on it, for the most part, is Baen Webscriptions stuff (no DRM, reasonable prices), and you can only read so much sci-fi warporn before you're sick and tired of sci-fi warporn.

    So I'm keeping my eye on Apple. But unless Steve Jobs has a change of heart on e-ink (which he sneers at) or there's some revolution in LCD technology that allows it to generate readable displays without a backlight and thus get decent battery life (don't care if it's as good as e-ink battery life, but it has to be at least competitive with the Nook's battery life!), the hardware simply isn't good enough. Otherwise I'd be reading books on my iPhone via Stanza or etc., which I'm not doing because realistically I only get three hours of battery life that way -- far less than if I fire up my e-ink based reader.

    Oh, what about all these *other* ebook readers? Some of them have nice hardware and software. But it's all about content, in the end. I suspect they'll end up just like all those portable digital music players that plugged in like keyfobs -- they'll still sell, but the readers that allow a fully integrated content cycle (purchase, transfer, read) will be the ones that most people buy, because for most people, they just want to purchase books in a convenient manner and not worry about how they get onto the ebook reader.

  • by Bman21212 ( 1067680 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:56PM (#31139082) []

    It will be out in a month, but so far seems amazing. Runs on android. Has one side of e-ink and one of lcd.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat.cCHICAGOom minus city> on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:18PM (#31139276) Journal

    We're getting close, but I don't think we're there yet.

    My own expectations are:

    1. color;
    2. bistable display that consumes no power for a static image;
    3. high contrast display, easily usable both indoors and out;
    4. durable enough to withstand being stepped on without breaking;
    5. utilizes SD cards or mini-SD cards for expanded storage for documents;
    6. screen large enough to show a full 8.5x11" page without scaling it down;
    7. high enough resolution to read smaller fonts (such as footnotes) without zooming;
    8. screen update times of no more than a tenth of a second;
    9. allows user supplied (PDF) documents to be displayed, and not just DRM'd documents; and
    10. still costs less than a more functionally versatile device such as a laptop.

    If a company can hit all ten of these requirements, I'd buy one in a proverbial New York minute.

  • Notion Ink Adam (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linuxguy ( 98493 ) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:32PM (#31139388) Homepage

    It won't be out until June. However the specs are amazing and might be worth waiting for. []

    160 hours of battery life. Screen can be switched to B&W mode. HDMI out for 1080p video playback. Open source friendly. etc. etc.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller