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Which eBook Reader is the Best?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the i'm-still-waiting-for-holopaper dept.

Books 469

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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Suspect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770152)

I don't understand why the motives of the first two reviews are "suspect".

Why not ask which lacrosse team rapes best (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770492)

Why not ask which lacrosse team rapes best?

HP Laserjet 4 (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770172)

It's the best!

Answer (-1, Offtopic)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770182)

I dunno.

Ah, teh good old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770192)

The best e-book for me is not an eBook, but the good ol' old fashioned ones with covers!

Re:Ah, teh good old days (2, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770378)

Most people who try an eReader really like it. Having pages in a book flip around and trying to hold the book open is a slight inconvenience. And the instant gratification of downloading the next book of your favorite series on demand is a big win. (especially with devices like Kindle)

Hyperlinks, bookmarks and notes are another powerful feature of an eReader. I only wish that you could share this meta data with other users more easily.

And free content....well, sort of. (5, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770552)

The best e-book for me is not an eBook, but the good ol' old fashioned ones with covers!

I'm with you. And, I went to my local library and got a card. And now, I have access to thousands of titles for the cost of my tax dollars.

I think a big part of the popularity of the e-readers is because it's just another gadget. Folks will come up with plenty of rationalizations as to why they need it or how it's so superior to a book. But that's the consumer mentality, I guess. It goes the same for fast cars (need them to merge with traffic!), SUVs (safety after all and I have kids!), computers, cameras, etc...

Re:And free content....well, sort of. (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770834)

Actually the ability to accelerate in a car is an important safety feature. It's significantly more dangerous driving in traffic in a vehicle with poor acceleration (and deceleration, mustn't forget the brakes as well). As for SUVs, I hate them and think they should be banned, but that's besides the point, as the real point is they're actually less safe then most other vehicles. As for computers, well, I need one to do my job so not much of a "rationalization" there, and I don't own a camera (well, my phone has one, but if I had the option to get it without the camera and have it cost less I would have taken it).

I also happen to want an eBook reader as I'd load it with all my O'Reilly reference books for work, as well as whatever other books I happen to be reading at the time. Yes the information in the O'Reilly books is available elsewhere on the internet for free (as one other commenter pointed out), but having it available collected in one location makes it worth having.

Amazingly, you use a computer? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770590)

I know ppl who still knock those new fangled typewriters. You would fit right in. Get with it.

Re:Ah, teh good old days (4, Interesting)

OECD (639690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770638)

I've been using my iPhone to read books. has a bunch of free/CC novels up (try "Geek Mafia") in a variety of formats, including a couple for the iPhone. I've been surprised that the iPhone works so well for this, although I haven't tried to read for more than an hour at a time or so.

Suspicious motives? (4, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770218)

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.

The one that isn't Sony (4, Insightful)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770226)

if you need an explanation as to why "not Sony," you don't read /. enough.

Re:The one that isn't Sony (4, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770438)

It seems to me that "not Amazon" is about an equal push so we are back to which one.

Re:The one that isn't Sony (4, Interesting)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770532)

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.

Re:The one that isn't Sony (3, Informative)

rudeboy1 (516023) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:The one that isn't Sony (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771016)

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.

Neither... (4, Informative)

proc_tarry (704097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770230)

Don't support DRM technology.

Re:Neither... (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770352)

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:Neither... (2, Informative)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770442)

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.

Re:Neither... (1)

proc_tarry (704097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770536)

Of course I'd never be reading 100 fiction or popular/opinion non-fiction books at the same time. If they're reference books, the text may be proprietary but the knowledge in them is not, and can be retrieved from numerous free sources. In fact, Kindle's free, wireless access to Wikipedia may be its most appealing feature.

Re:Neither... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770548)

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.

Bleah... (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770618)

A lot of my dead tree books are falling apart. The bindings are coming apart and the pages are yellowed and disintegrating.

There's only so much you can do with Scotch tape to hold them together a little bit longer.

Re:Neither... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770632)

I agree. Don't support DRM technology. Get your ebooks from Gutenberg, store them in rtf format, and put them on the Sony Reader using a memory chip.

But DO use the Sony reader. I can fill a huge memory chip with books and carry them ALL with me ALL THE TIME. I've got the whole H.P. Lovecraft collection on mine!

Cthulu fhtagn!

Re:Neither... (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770718)

"Neither... Don't support DRM technology."

The only problem with that is that eBook players are a relatively new market. If nobody bought one simply because it has support for DRM, the companies would just assume nobody wants a reader and they stop producing them. On the other hand, if one e-store sells books DRM free and they do better than the next e-store that's hardly pushing any DRM'd books, then you actually send the right message to the industry.

But, hey, extremism's always an option I suppose.

Re:Neither... (1)

proc_tarry (704097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771002)

OK, Neville Chamberlain.

what? (1)

pkadd (1203286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770244)

Could someone please enlighten me on what an eBook reader is?
A program just used to display a document?
A program used to read the books with a voice?
A device on which you can upload documents for the sole purpose of reading them?

Re:what? (2, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770412)

In most contexts people are referring to the last one, A device you can upload documents to for reading. Sometimes it can also refer to the first one. Some people argue that a dedicated reader is stupid and that they should just get a PDA or tablet PC, but that overlooks certain design decisions incorporated into dedicated readers should as incredibly long battery life, ergonomic design (for holding in your hand for long periods), and typically light and minimal design so it's simple to transport. Sometimes they also incorporate a light if the display is not backlit or otherwise illuminated.

I own some readers (4, Interesting)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770248)

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).

Re:I own some readers (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770668)

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.

Re:I own some readers (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770814)

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 (5, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770258)

I'd just like to say, whoever tagged this 'jetsvssharks', I salute you for bringing Broadway musicals into a story about eBook readers.

Follow the crowd (1)

Lewrker (749844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770270)

Ask the other two guys

Which reader? (4, Insightful)

mknewman (557587) | more than 6 years ago | (#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'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.

I hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770354)

the DS is pretty good.

ebook readers (2, Interesting)

mrneutron2003 (1106301) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770282)

For the cost of the 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:ebook readers (3, Informative)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770486)

For the cost of the 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.

Re:ebook readers (1)

Hack'n'Slash (3463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770982)

Hey, I've successfully used my laptop one handed MANY times!

(Err, don't read too much into that.)

Re:ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21771012)

Damn. I'm still using a Handspring Visor (the Neo) too, mostly for its simple calendar and addressbook, but I also use it for reading ebooks using WeasleReader. By the way, Gutenberg Australia is the best place to get the stuff you can't get in the US due to Sonny Bono's copyright shenanigans, may he burn in hell.

I prefer Paper 1.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770284)

One of the oldest and still the best. Perhaps not quite as modern a content delivery system or as space-saving as the Internet and a locked-down-with-DRM POS like the Kindle, but if you want to build a library it's still the best option.

SonyEricsson (1)

oh2 (520684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770304)

I recently bought a SonyEricsson P1 mobile phone and installed a MobiPocket reader on it and it works very well. I flip the screen and then its almost like reading a pocketbook. Theres a 512 Mbyte flash card in the phone as standard which is quite enough for hundreds of books if you want to. An excellent choice as you only need one device for everything that fits nicely in a pocket. Well worth checking out.

iPod Touch....not (3, Informative)

wish bot (265150) | more than 6 years ago | (#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!

Re:iPod Touch....not (1)

Celarnor (835542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770732)

I use my iPod Touch as an ebook reader.

True, you have to jailbreak it, but that consists of going to a website and pressing a button, so it isn't too taxing. Then you just install the ebook reader package and you're all set to sftp whatever you want to read onto it.

Re:iPod Touch....not (1)

filterban (916724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770850)

Patience, young padowan learner. The SDK is being released in February (or sooner). You'll see an eBook reader.

Doctrine of first sale, drm, and used book stores (2, Insightful)

eison (56778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770328)

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.

Re:Doctrine of first sale, drm, and used book stor (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770724)

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.

Re:Doctrine of first sale, drm, and used book stor (1)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770900)

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."

Re:Doctrine of first sale, drm, and used book stor (2, Interesting)

spectecjr (31235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770896)

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 books on flash memory, I'd be very very happy".

Answer.... (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770334)

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!

Tungsten E (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770338)

Tungsten E, Can get them for cheap and uses SD cards, Lots of books in open format. And with Battery Addition Mod it can run for about 10 hours of reading time...

Re:Tungsten E (1)

dhartshorn (456906) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770494)

I like the LifeDrive, but any widescreen Palm is very nice in landscape mode. It's about the same width as a paperback page.

Hunnerds an' hunnerds of books in my pocket, and Sudoku, too!

Re:Tungsten E (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770764)

I've always liked palm devices for ebooks (my favorite was an old clie with a jog-dial) but I could never get a decent ebook *software* to put on them.

What do you recommend for maximum format compatibility and not making my eyes bleed?

Re:Tungsten E (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770998)

I use Isilo, and just convert everything to that format...1 Step using IsiloX for Html,Txt, 2 steps for Pdf's, Lit.

I have the Kindle, and recommend it (5, Informative)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770340)

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.

My own, far-from-best alternative (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770348)

...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 if you're seriously after such a device, it is the best out there at the moment. But almost everyone agrees that the price right now is a bit steep and it makes a lot of sense to wait a bit for it to drop and a slightly reworked version to hit shelves (maybe better button design, etc. -- whatever other issues users have complained about in this regard).

Neither. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770360)

Get yourself a PDA with a decent resolution that you can set to a low brightness. You will spend less money, have more features in the device, and have greater flexibility in ebook formats.

I'm drooling over those ebook readers myself, but they're just not worth the price when you can get so much more bang for your buck.

Nokia N800 or N810 (4, Insightful)

c41rn (880778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770380)

I'm not sure what kinds of eBooks the OP plans on reading, but using the Linux-based Nokia N800 [] or N810 internet tablets as eBook readers using FBReader [] 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.

Why buy an e-reader at all? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770408)

My Palm TX doubles as my ebook reader. My Sony Clie before that. I have never had an issue with using either except in bright daylight. I don't buy DRM'd material and so far have never had a problem with getting material in PDF, PRC/PDB, or text. I could actually handle more formats if so inclined.

Basically, why buy an e-reader? So far none of them seem very good based on specs, so double up on your tech usage until they get a lot better.

Caveat (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770788)

I use a Palm TX, too. It's great, but when reading in the dark (so as not to disturb the sleeping wife) the display just can't be made dim enough for my taste, even with a black background.

my answer (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770426)

Which ever one can read PDFs and doesn't insist on DRM.

Boy, that's a good question... (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770434)

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'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 that rotund reviewer that criticized the button placement. Also, the keyboard is neat, but looks really chintzy. I plan to read, not write, so take that for what it is. Also, what's with having to pay for viewing your own PDFs and whatnot?

Sony: Cheaper. Expansion slots. Decent library. Broad format support. Design looks nicer.

Right now, I'm heavily leaning towards the Sony, although the sheer library, plus the idea of streaming "periodicals" is a nifty idea on the Kindle. Maybe I should just wait for Sony to bring out their next version, which will, if they're smart, add some of that capability.

best reader or best format? (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770440)

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.

Dead Trees (1)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770446)

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 (4, Interesting)

csimpkin (808625) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 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:Sony PRS-505 (2, Insightful)

Idaho (12907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770956)

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 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 so trivial, as compared to, let's say, opening a book. I'd absolutely go for one of these.

Emacs. (3, Funny)

amper (33785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770472)

Yeah, definitely Emacs. The only eBook reader that can read things to you with a Lisp...

Waterproof (1)

james_shoemaker (12459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770484)

I just want one that's waterproof. So I can read in the hot tub and floating out in the lake. I currently use a treo in a waterproof case and that's in the hot tub, but floating out in the lake the glare on the case is a problem. The only options I have found so far are rather expensive or have primitive screens.

I have two answers (2, Informative)

popvoid (607313) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770518)

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 available in your format. I know a few people who have said that they couldn't find certain books for the Kindle that are available for the PRS-505. Personally, I have had the opposite results. One device that might bear watching is the OLPC computer because it offers the best of both worlds--it is a color display until you turn the brightness all the way down, and then it becomes a reflective gray scale display.

The best Ebook reader (2, Informative)

angevin (1206066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770520)

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:The best Ebook reader (2, Informative)

Budenny (888916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770762)

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.

Not Another E-Book LLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770568) []
Is one I have been following. Price is still a little steep but it's designed as an open device, not locked to proprietary formats and networks. I haven't been following the details on the Kindle or the sony device, but the device details are available at the link above. The highlights are that it uses 2bit grayscale e-ink, an ARM processor from Samsung and Linux as the OS. On release it will support RTF, HTML, PDF and PRC (Mobipocket). It looks like it may be available before the end of the year (week after next) but they aren't quite ready to accept money and ship product at this momnet.

It ain't the hardware... (1)

joebok (457904) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770570)'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 they loaded it down with.

I've been happy with using Fictionwise ( - they've got a good collection of stuff and for the non-secure stuff you can download it into many different formats.

Alas that new stuff is more and more coming out in proprietary/secure formats only. So I just check those out from the library.

FBReader + the tiny Asus palmtop? (2, Insightful)

IronChef (164482) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770580)

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.

Re:FBReader + the tiny Asus palmtop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770972)

PocketPC + uBook has been my weapon of choice for about 5 years now for eBooks, I'm now on my second pda and have had to buy my better half a pda as well (cheap deals always available on eBay for older models).
So long as you've got a reasonable battery you should get about 5 hours out of a pda - which is plenty for most travelling or reading - if you're going to be away from a power point for more than 5 hours then a dead tree will be your best bet.

read "the emperor's new clothes" (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770588)

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 fanfare and disappeared like a fart in the wind

eBooks don't improve upon real books folks, they simply don't

you may now continue ignoring the little kid saying the king is naked

Iliad Reader (5, Insightful)

BigPink (16156) | more than 6 years ago | (#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: []

I'm afraid (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770598)

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 does it run Linux? Yes. Yes it does. It's dual-boot Xubuntu and XP. :)

The Best Ebook Reader Is ..... (1)

burdicda (145830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770630)

The one with the most features AFTER
the DRM is completely absent !!!!

The XO from OLPC? (5, Informative)

Ugmo (36922) | more than 6 years ago | (#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: []

        * 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:The XO from OLPC? (2, Interesting)

FlyingFork (1202361) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770848)

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.

Re:The XO from OLPC? (4, Interesting)

Chalex (71702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770966)

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.

So where can I buy ebooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770666)

So where can I buy all the ebooks that amazon/sony have for sale in their stores in a non-DRM'd format? Not really good to buy a non-drm'd reader if I can't get content for it.

Apple's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770686)

Wait for Apple's solution!

No one answer (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770694)

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 display. Yes you CAN shove other material into it but they don't make it easy and probably can't trust em to not make it harder in the future. It is so obviously a play to lock Amazon in as THE supplier of etexts in the same way the iPod was a brazen attempt to monopolize digital music and video distribution. And remember that it uses a cell phone as it's CPU. Violate the Amazon TOS and kiss your content goodbye.

Sony uses the exact same display (according to the epaper vendor) so if you have seen one you know what the display quality of the other is like. (Low res, low contrast and slow IMHO) Sony probably has equally sinister desires as Amazon but considering their position in the book market has no hope of achiving any sort of monopoly. So if evil is out, count on em being stupid at some point and killing the product with something mindbogglingly retarded.

Or you can go third party, google for em there are several smaller vendors selling the same panel with essentially the same pokey CPUs in various colors of plastic shell.

Many run Linux but that won't do you much good unless you find a hack to blow their DRM infested firmware out. No DRM, no ebooks from mainstream houses but the free stuff, tech docs and pirate stuff would still be good to go. Of course there isn't much point to hacking one anyway, they are slow and the screen refresh is bad enough to preclude any interactive app.

dictator (1)

Krunch (704330) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770700)

Nowadays, I tend to read eBooks with less(1) but I once used dictator [] . 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.

I'd pick my laptop (1)

Sepiraph (1162995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770714)

Personally I'd pick my laptop over any e-reader out there, or even a PDA would be a better choice than any e-reader.

Re:I'd pick my laptop (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770938)

Thats great for you, but some of us want a device that is designed to use the advantages of havnig a digital book.
Light weight, easy to turn pages. With a good eBook I can lay on my back and read it. Something that's not as easy with a laptop.

UMPC? Tablet PC? Anyone? (1)

kai6novice (1093633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770722)

Did anyone think about UMPC? or Tablet PC? I think they have more power, so you can run the regular Adobe reader, instead of the mobile version.

Sony PRS-500 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770726)

Well, I noticed you can get a refurb one on the sony website for $200 and thought "hey, I can turn that around on ebay if I don't like it. Then I found out that it has phenomenal linux support (albeit not from sony). Then, I got it, and fell in love.

I've found that I read more now because it's more portable. I get slashdot feeds on it, NYTimes, a bunch of PDF and text ebooks, and it's tiny. There's enough stuff in gutenberg to keep me reading for a long time, and a lot of it is classic stuff I've been wanting to read for ages. I've also got a number of books in txt format (can't remember where I got them, I've had them since pre-torrent days) that read great.

And what everyone says about the screens, it's true. You really DO forget you're reading on that new flashy gizmo. It's so thin and light I keep it in my backpack all the time, and while I'm between classes or waiting for something at work, or doing anything bus-related, I read a bit.

As far as I'm concerned, I'll never be without an ebook reader again, as long as it's eink. At the rate I've been using it, I'll have paid it off in reading material in about 2 months.

dead-tree editions rule (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770752)

no pinhead can come along and take the writing off the pages once you've bought it.

PDA or an XO (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770784)

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 books for sale []

Most of my reading is ebooks on my PDA now. Any time I have a few minutes to spend (sitting in a waiting room, for example) I can pull out my PDA and read a few more pages. I always have my book with me and it's always at the last page I was reading.

For long airplane trips (like flying to Japan) I still use my old Handspring Visor. The Palm TX is good for maybe four hours on a charge; the Visor is good for dozens of hours with a pair of good AAA cells.

I'm planning to buy an XO mini-laptop, and that should make an excellent ebook reader. Like the Visor, it will be readable in direct sunlight, and will have long battery life. It should be excellent for long airplane flights. It's a lot bigger than a Palm PDA, but it is smaller and lighter than most hard-cover novels. []


Publishers are in danger ... (1)

jabberwock (10206) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770790)

... of making some of the same mistakes that the recording industry made.

Proprietary formats and hardware. Not passing along any of the cost savings to consumers.

I've been reading books on a Pocket PC for about five years. That's not what I bought it for, but it turned out to be one of my biggest uses for the handheld.

I can use or convert any format I've run across. And it's easy to read on. People are always dubious about that until I show them. Nice and bright, turn pages quickly with a jog wheel, one-handed reading at any angle. Sure, I mostly read paper, but the handheld is good for travel. Battery life leaves something to be desired ... but if I turn off wifi and dial down brightness a bit, I get five hours or so.

And there are a ton of books available via P2P. I say that with some resignation, as an author [] ... but it's not like I'm in the elite. I'm prepared to adjust my business model. ;-)

The XO laptop (1, Redundant)

dmayle (200765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770796)

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 [] The software interface [] 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... It runs linux, there's python, collaborative music-making and writing...

Kindle's free wireless is interesting (2, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Sony's reader is great (1)

Chundra (189402) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770866)

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 sense that it makes opening books and font size changes happen quicker than say rtf or txt. Using libprs500 [] you can convert additional formats to BBeB, most notably html, lit, and (with an additional step) chm. I use mine all the time. In short, it rules and I have no complaints about it whatsoever.

I just bought a Bookeen Gen3 (2, Informative)

qued (980744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770890)

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 Mobipocket format and there are 20-30 online stores that have content; you will find some stores have books others do not.

If you want to be able to browse web pages or other interactive things and believe that's more important than a reader device then I suggest you look outside of the E-Ink devices.

If you value being able to search your e-books, something like the Kindle or other readers which have a keyboard may be better suited to your habits.

This matrix compares specs of most major readers out there. []

Books On Board has a pretty good deal on Bookeen: []

An avid reader of Sci-F, Fantasy, and the occasional Mystery.


Re:I just bought a Bookeen Gen3 (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770984)

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.

Where the fuck... (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770932)

...are the cheap ebook readers? It's a damn LCD+SD reader+battery, you can get them as 'electronic picture frames' for 50 bucks (Except they don't display text.), but 'ebook readers' all cost 200 dollars.

Yeah, yeah, I know eInk is expensive, but there are no cheap LCD ones either.

Hell, you can buy almost suitable MP3 players for 50 bucks.

eReader owner (2, Informative)

sfranklin (95470) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770946)

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've downloaded a bunch of stuff from the Baen free library ( [] ) and other sources.

Technically, I really like the features. The battery life is great, I've used it pretty much non-stop on international flights for 12+ hours and never even saw the battery indicator go down. The viewing area is plenty big, as long as you use the zoom feature properly to expand pages of PDFs. It's easy to switch from one book to another, and to maintain bookmarks.

My only real complaint isn't specifically about the Sony, it's more an industry thing - I wish there was a standard book format. Rocket eBook, Windows CE books, Microsoft reader, Palm format, etc. It gets old seeing all those different formats all the time.

I did see mention above about some other features missing, like a text search. Personally I don't really care about that so it's not an issue for me. Also I've seen folks complain about having to use a computer to get content (rather than wireless like a Kindle), but again it's not an issue for me. I work on my computer all the time, no hardship for me to use it for my reader content.
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