In the following article I will attempt to unearth the facts about the several different “e-readers” out there and decide which is best. Items of consideration for each device will include price/value and functional specs such as display, content download/purchase ease, and others. Hopefully this will take away some confusion surrounding the differences between all the different e-readers out there.
The Kindle was released in November of 2007 and was the forerunner in the electronic reader industry. The Kindle was so popular that it sold out within five and a half hours of its release. A big draw for the Kindle was its ability to purchase and download content wirelessly. The network connection was provided by Amazon at no cost to the user. For the sake of keeping things current, we will look at the newest offerings from Amazon: Kindle 2 International and Kindle DX.
Kindle 2 International version was released in October of 2009 after considerable requests for accessibility in foreign countries. The K2I uses the AT&T wireless 3G network instead of the Sprint network. The 3G coverage is available in over 100 countries worldwide. The K2I is a light 10.2 ounces and a super-slim 0.36 inches thick. The display on the K2I uses 16-level grayscale on a six-inch screen. Not much of a vibrant display, but certainly gets the jobs done. The K2I can hold about 1,500 non-illustrated books in its 2GB internal memory and has an improved battery life from the Kindle 1. The Kindle 2 International has a price tag of $259.00.
The DX is basically a souped-up version of the Kindle 2. The DX has 4GB of memory, offering available capacity for about 3,500 non-illustrated books. Instead of the tiny six-inch display, the DX offers a much larger 9.7-inch “e-ink” display, also with 16-level grayscale. The DX has the ability to change the orientation of your content from portrait to landscape by just flipping the device on its side thanks to the added accelerometer. The Kindle DX is currently $489.00.
Between the two I would go with the Kindle 2 International. I don’t see the larger display and accelerometer being worth shelling out the extra $230, and I certainly don’t think I’ll be storing more than 1,500 books on the device.
Sony Reader PRS-600 (Touch Edition)
Sony’s PRS-600 is a higher-scale, touch version of their original reader. The touch edition is 0.4 inches thick and weighs 10.1 ounces. It is a small sleek device that is lighter than many other readers and is available in three stylish colors. The display is a six-inch touch screen with eight-level grayscale, a downgrade from the Kindle 2 and DX. Another minus of the touch edition is that it only has 512MB of space and can only hold 250 books. If you want more memory space you have to buy a separate memory card. Also, to access books and other content, you must connect the device to your computer with a USB cable. Not being wireless detracts from its convenience factor. The Sony Reader Touch Edition is available for $299.99 on SonyStyle.com.
The iLiad is a clever little device that lets users read AND write as they would on normal paper. In addition to reading newspapers, books, and magazines, the iLiad allows you to take notes or doodle on its 8.1-inch, 16-level grayscale display. The iLiad is 0.63 inches thick and weighs 15.3 ounces, a little heftier than the Kindle and Sony Reader. Another drawback is that this device only has 256MB of storage capacity. Quite weak compared to its competitors. And the nail in the coffin is its price of $699. I’ll stick to a pen and paper and keep my 400 bucks.
Bookeen Cybook Opus
Last, but certainly not least, is the Cybook Opus. The Opus is a snack-size version of your typical reader. It is only six inches tall, 0.4 inches thick, and weighs a mere 5.3 ounces, and is able to fit in a purse, briefcase, or even a pocket. The Opus offers a five-inch, four-level grayscale display, and like the Kindle DX, has a built-in accelerometer that gives it the ability to switch from landscape to portrait by flipping the device to its side. With 1GB of storage capacity, the Opus allows you to store up to 1,000 books. To purchase and download books and other content you must connect the Opus to your computer via USB cable. Again, this detracts from its ease of use and convenience. The price tag on this little reader is $250. Not a bad price for a device with a fair amount of features, aside from the whole USB thing.
I chose these e-readers because of their overall appeal and their easy availability to purchase in stores or on the Web. Each of these e-readers has its own special appeal and features that differentiate them from the rest. Out of all of the offerings, I would have to say that my favorites are the Kindle 2 International and the Sony Touch Edition. I like the Opus with its ample storage capacity and sleek design and size. However, the four-level grayscale display combined with the fact that you have to connect to your computer to download content makes me think I should go with the Kindle or Sony.
Now, for an overall winner I would have to go with the Amazon Kindle 2 International Version. The name is a mouthful, but really delivers when you get down to the basics. The size is manageable, the storage space is unparalleled, the wireless connectivity is perfect for on-the-go use, and the 16-level grayscale display is leaps and bounds ahead of the puny four-level grayscale of the Opus. Also, it is reassuring to have the support of a company like Amazon and the ability to connect to their huge online bookstore wirelessly from over 100 countries. I know what I’m asking for this Christmas!