E-reader Comparison.

Friday, March 19, 2010
Okay my little blog buddies, I've been playing around with my Kindle 2, nook, and older Sony e-reader, and while I don't have all the answers, I am ready to share a few things I've discovered.

All three of these players have a computer-based reader you can use.

Kindle 2: Amazon's Kindle reader is also available on BlackBerry, PC/Mac, and iPhone.

What do I like?

You can use .prc format (same as Mobi) to read, not just the .pdf (which sometimes looks funky). I like that I can order the free previews for stuff and read it at my leisure. I have discovered the joys of taking my Kindle to a bookstore and downloading samples of available books. Also, when browsing Amazon's site, I can send samples to my Kindle that way. My hubby downloaded the Kindle app for his laptop, so we can share books that way through our account. Or he can order his own previews for things he wants to read.

I really like the ease of ordering over the Whispernet. I like even more that I can hook it up to my computer via USB, and without needing some other app, I can simply drag and drop .prc (non-DRM) files over to my Kindle. Takes less than a minute to do. For those of you who didn't know, you can easily back up your Kindle files by copying them to a folder on your computer in the same way. Easy.

Kindle has a voice-reader feature that I haven't even played with yet. (As long as a publisher hasn't disabled that feature for their book.) There are also Kindle hacks I haven't even explored yet, like being able to access email and stuff.

I like how quickly it powers up and changes pages. I like being able to take notes.

What don't I like?

The DRM that means books I buy on my Kindle (this applies to all three readers) I can't use on my nook. That sucks. But the majority of my buying usually is third-party indie book publishers or sites like AllRomanceEbooks.com, so I now download the .html format (when available) if limited to only one format download, or use the .prc format and then convert to the format I need.

I also don't like the keyboard. It's...there. All the time. I also don't like that the Previous Page button is on the left side. This means I have to reach across the reader to page back when I'm holding it in my cover like a book (I have the leather cover) or else I'm forced to fold the cover back to hold it like that. I think they should have put that button on both sides.

No external storage, like a memory card. Not an issue for many people, I know, but I'd like one. No removeable battery. No lighted cover like the Sony has available (unless someone has one third-party that I don't know about yet). You have to use a booklight.


nook: Barnes & Noble's reader is newer, so they're playing catch-up. I really think if you give it a year or so, they'll be giving Kindle a serious run for their money.

What do I like?

They have a free reader also for the PC/Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, and BlackBerry. You use the .epub format for the nook, even though it will read .pdfs. (I strongly suggest .epub, Calibre will easily convert from .html or .prc to .epub, whereas .pdf can be dicey sometiems.) I like the Previous/Next page buttons on both sides. I do like the bottom touch screen control system, although it can sometimes be a little tricky to work if you're not paying attention. And it took me a little while to get used to the "keyboard" when I needed to use that, but I like it better than the mass of keys on the Kindle. To me, the font rendering looks a little "cleaner" when comparing the same document side-by-side in the Kindle and the nook. I do like that it can function as an mp3 player, although I haven't tried that yet. (I don't know if the Kindle has that feature or not.)

I like that you can replace the battery, and that you can add a Micro SD card for additional storage.

As with the Kindle, drag and drop file additions and copying are super easy, with no third-party software needed. Once I finally got my account set up -- AGAIN (apparently even though my info was already in B&N.com it didn't "see" it right the first time - note to my blog buddies, go in at the start before you order a book and redo all your info, including your shipping address and your billing address, which you'll find in the credit card payment page) buying was as easy as on the Kindle.

You can download screensavers for the nook (not sure if you can do that for the Kindle or not). You can take notes.

What don't I like?

It's a little slower than the Kindle, and if you have the Wi-Fi on, the battery seems to suck down faster than the Kindle. (Easily fixed by turning Wi-Fi off.) Takes longer to power up from being off. (I tend to turn my readers OFF, not just put them in sleep mode.) The B&N e-book site interface on the nook isn't necessarily as quick and easy to navigate as Kindle, but I have a feeling that will improve as B&N keeps progressing. No lighted cover, as with the Kindle you have to clip a booklight to the cover. According to nook they don't have a voice reader function like Kindle, so if that's a major feature for you, you might want to think long and hard. However, you can load mp3 files to it, so if you have audiobooks in mp3 format, you can use those.


Verdict: Six of one, a half-dozen of the other. No, seriously. There are enough good things about both that really, since I buy most of my books from third-party sources anyway, the online shopping aspect isn't enough to sway me one way or the other. I can use either one equally, and for books that I buy elsewhere, I load them into both readers in case my hubby is using one, so I can use the other.

Sony: The reason I saved this for last is we have the PRS-505, which is an older model.

What do I like?

The lighted cover is DA BOMB! Listen up, Kindle and nook! (Or listen up Sony and put out aftermarket versions for the Kindle and nook.) You can easily insert an SD card for additional storage. Takes .epub (now that it's updated) or will convert .pdf with the Sony reader software. I like the Prev/Next buttons on the right side (but that might be annoying for lefties). The battery life seems to last forever.

What don't I like?

Now that I've used both the nook and the Kindle, the row of side buttons on the side you use for selection seems silly and clutters the reader. You can't take notes. It is slower than the nook and Kindle. Now, maybe I'm missing something, but it's my impression that I have to use the Sony Reader software to transfer files to and from the reader. And sometimes that gets wonky on my Windows 7 laptop. I much prefer the direct drag and drop of the nook and Kindle. (If the newer versions of the Sony have that, someone please let me know.) Doesn't have wireless, you have to transfer files using the computer. (Again, not an issue for me so much, but I have to admit I do like being able to use the nook or Kindle to check out book samples.)

What have I learned?

1) Let's face it, DRM sucks. Yes, as an author, I'm saying that. For books I've bought specifically for one format or another through proprietary sites, I'm stuck. That's not even counting the odd scattered Mobi DRM'd books I've got that I can only read on my laptop through the Mobi reader, or on my BlackBerry on the Mobi reader there. So, for example, I have the first two of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series in DRM'd Sony format, meaning I have to read them on the Sony reader or on my laptop using the Sony Reader software.

.pdf format sometimes renders an iffy conversion. So while .pdf is good for laptops, it's sometimes sucky for conversions to different formats. Sometimes a .pdf will render okay on an e-reader, sometimes it won't. If you have different readers and can only pick one format, pick .html (if available) and use that to convert to what you need using Calibre.

2) Having a reader with wireless capability is definitely a plus. My hubby and I were waiting at a well-known local Amish restaurant that has a gift shop with a book section. While waiting with several dozen other patrons, many of who were obviously Mennonite from their clothes (we have a large Mennonite community in our area), I was standing by the books and downloading Kindle previews of some Amish and Mennonite romance books they had on display. (Yes, I know, that's why I had to get the previews, to see how you handle an Amish/Mennonite romance. *LOL*)

3) People who only focus on buying books from the site they buy their reader from are missing out on an huge opportunity. And yes, you can back-up your files from the readers onto your computers. (I've heard a lot of people with Kindles complain they can't back-up their files -- yes, you can.)

4) There isn't any one feature that would push me one direction or another to recommend a reader over the others. Different readers have different requirements.

5) Because the readers have a computer version of their reader, if you want to read on your laptop, you can. Usually you can register several devices/computers to one account.

6) Sony is at the top of the class in terms of figuring out the lighted cover. If Kindle and nook come up with a similar cover (a clear plate folds over the reader screen, and the light flows through that, instead of a separate clip-on light) then I have a feeling users would snap them up.

Hope this helps!

4 reader comments:

  1. This is a new e-reader I thought you might like to know abut.its pricy but it does alot!

    http://www.entourageedge.com/entourage-edge.html
    Meg

  1. I am looking at the Sony e-reader myself. Kindle I just don't like the look of, and Nook - we don't have any Barnes & Noble here in the UK, so I think it's just not available.

    Thanks you for your helpful comparison! After reading it I am still leaning towards the Sony.

    Sara

  1. I should have mentioned that I have a kindle 1 and as it is obsolete one day I will need to upgrade. I would like to have something that would be multi-functional. Meg

  1. Meg - Thanks for the link! That looks like something to compete with the iPad.

    SaraJayne - Being in the UK, actually the Sony might be a better choice for you. It's my understanding you have to pay more for downloads through Kindle's site because of the wireless network. So if the downloading will cost you more, and you'll be limited to loading through USB, you might as well go with the Sony.