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Which eBook Reader

Updated on July 29, 2010

As the eBook reader market grows and more manufacturers jump on the bandwagon it gets harder to choose one eBook reader from the next. Here are the main things you need to think about before deciding.

E Ink screen technology. If you seriously want to read books whenever the urge takes you then E Ink is the only choice. The colour screen now being offered will be as easy to read outside as your mobile phone is. Go, step outside and check just what happens to your cell phone in bright light, bad yes. Colour eBook readers use the same technology screens so will be just as unusable.

If you don’t read outside then a colour screen will be ok but the battery life will be terrible. E Ink screens rely on ambient light so have no built-in, battery guzzling illumination. Colour screens have that built-in lighting that is the main reason your mobile phone turns itself off after a minute of your not pushing any buttons.

A decent E Ink based eBook reader will last for weeks between charges under normal use where a colour screened version will last hours.

Screen size is a trade off between readability and portability. A 6” screen, measuring diagonally across the reading area, is still smaller than a standard paperback which comes in at around 6.75” diagonal.

Storage capacity. The worst eBook reader we could find on a quick trawl of the market cab store over 100 eBooks and the best close to 400. Just think about those numbers, how long will it take you to read 100 books? They all have memory card slots so you can add storage for another 1000 or so books if you really want to.

Warranty. Your eBook reader is likely to travel around with you and get some serious usage. Make sure you are covered for faults for as long as you can get.

You can find out more about eBook reader features here

The eBook Readers

Sony

The PRS300 has a 5” E Ink screen, plenty of storage and comes in pink as well as the more reserved colours. A single battery charge will last for weeks of reading.

The Sony PRS505 has a 6” E Ink screen. Less book storage but still enough room for well over a hundred books. There are two page forward button conveniently placed for use by either hand, great if you read in bed and don’t want both arms out of the covers on a cold night. Hey attention to details makes for a better reading experience.

The Sony PRS600 is the same size as the PRS505 with a 6” screen but this time boasts a touchscreen.

All three of these Sony eBook readers are great quality and a pleasure to use, our preference is for the PRS505 but you will be lucky to get one as stocks are fading fast.

Amazon Kindle 2

Sporting a 6” E Ink screen of excellent quality the Kindle 2 is a great eBook reader. So why does it have to be so big? Amazon have added a keyboard and free wireless technology that lets you buy books directly from the device. That keyboard adds a lot to the size. Unless you wear a duffle coat there is no way it is going into a pocket and you might need to upsize your handbag to get one in there too.

The Kindle supports pdf files and Amazon’s own Kindle format, so mostly you have to buy your books from Amazon. That works at the moment as the prices seem quite competitive but who knows what may happen in the future if they gain any kind of monopoly.

iPad

Sorry Apple but that colour screen may be great for most things but once you step outside it gets pretty unusable. If you are a book nut and want the flexibility to read anywhere then the iPad isn’t an option. Also, where you might count battery life in weeks for an E Ink based eBook reader you can count it in hours for the iPad. We love the iPad, definitely want one but not for reading books on.

I will be adding to this list as I get a look at other eBook readers. Let me know if there are any you want me to cover.

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