Sunday, January 10, 2010

eBook Readers Comparison and Review: Amazon Kindle vs Sony Touch vs Barnes and Noble Nook






 

My conversion to eBook Reading devices is complete.

I went into this with a penchant towards wanting to use the device, for economic and logistic reasons, but skeptical that an electrical device could create the same degree of mysticism that a traditional book could create.

The reading experience for me has clearly been enhanced.  If you haven't considered an electronic reading device consider the following...


Convincing rhetoric (I hope) on the side of using an eBook reader; In no particular order.


1.     Never decide which book you want to take with you again!
Just grab your electronic bookshelf and you have got anything you ever want to read…  In fact you have an entireBarnes and Noble right at your finger tips (well Amazon.com). 
2.     Never look for a book again!
When you are reading 10 books at a time finding the one you want to read NOW, can be frustrating… not any more.
3.     Take a Barnes and Noble err Amazon… with you anywhere!
Uhh.. yeah covered above, but isn’t it nice to peruse around a Barnes and Noble?  I love to just browse the books.  Well now you can do it anywhere, and anytime.
4.     Listen to music (or speed read guides) as you read.
Some music is nice to read to, but I have a speed reading pacing system I listen to as I read… it is now very easy to manage my speed reading lessons.  Speed reading is the real deal!
5.     One page only?!  Yep…
I actually enjoy only having once screen and don’t want a double screen device.  Much simpler to read without going back and forth.
6.     Never lose a book (library security)
All books are stored in one location.  You can retrieve them or get the backup at anytime.
7.     Cheaper books…  Millions are even free.
With no material costs books are at a fraction of the price $1 – 9.95 are typical prices…
The Gutenberg project by Google as accumulated millions of copyright free books that are free to download and read… Dracula, Frankenstein, Alice in Wonderland and many many others…
8.     MUCH smaller packing job… particularly relevant to Kalli and I.
Our heaviest and most spacially greedy items are books.  What a relief to replace them all with this tiny device.







9.     Read to me feature… (in some editions)
The read to me feature so you can continue the reading in the car, on the go, or if you just prefer being read to.


10.     Never “find your place again” and manage a large reading selection.
This may be a bit trivial but you simply choose your book, and go.

To sum it up:  Maintaining, and enjoying a large and affordable reading selections is now much easier.

Kindle vs Sony Touch vs B&N Nook




We live on the road.  Those who know us understand that we are not exaggerating here.  We have no home and we live in a new country every other month.
Finding English books is sometimes near impossible, and the small load of books we have is the heaviest and weightiest item.
An eBook reader for us made sense if only just to save all the space.  ( we each carry only one suitcase).
I bought or was gifted all three of the top machines and only kept one.  After my own experience and a fair amount of research here’s my rant on the eBook wave.

So the search began, and was particularly frustrating.


You see, each book only accepts certain formats which means each device has a more or less limited reading supply.  Which is issue #1


ISSUE 1 Selection:  Kindle vs Sony Touch vs B&N Nook

 

Which device has the greatest selection of books?

I’ll make this one quick.
Well, the selection could be sufficient for most readers, one may occasionally contain a book or two that the other doesn’t.  Any of the above selections may or may not completely satisfy a random sampling of readers.  From my perspective there is no clear winner or loser here, but they all have very large and growing selections, but they are all missing millions of books.

If you are looking for a specific genre check the perspective official sites below to get a feel for the book selections of each company.


FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS ON BOOK SELECTION - IMO

Although the companies are trying to get the “monopoly” by having their own proprietary formats, publishers are wanting to expand their audiences and allowing their books to be posted in both formats. 
All companies have a a lot of books to digitize!  But there are plenty of books available.

 

ISSUE 2 – Which SHOULD be a non-issue…


Program and page turning speed; which make a large part of the “ebook experience.”


As stated above, this should be a non issue.  The problem is these new screens have very slow refresh rates, which makes page turning down right annoying.

Sony - Program and page turning speed.

Sony’s first ereader was way too slow to even consider.  Waiting between page turns is just not an option.
Sony’s Touch edition is far improved.  But still not as fast as the Kindle 2.
Although Kindle 2 is faster, the swipe feature to turn pages is very neat, although it’s really not that much faster or more effective.  It’s neat though!

B&N Nook – Program and page turning speed.

We took this baby out of the pacakaged impressed by the intial look and feel of the device but…
SLOOOOOWWWest of all!
Page turn and menu navigation is problematically and fatally slow.  The sluggishness of this device renders it darn near unusable.  It feels like you are waiting seconds for each page turn.

Kindle 2 - Program and page turning speed.

This is the fastest page turner and navigating machine.  Page turn Speed could still improve, but the Kindle 2 turns pages at an acceptable speed.

The Winner for Program and page turning speed?


Kindle 2 is easily the snappiest device available.

FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS ON PROGAM SPEED AND PAGE TURNING


I think this should be and will soon be a non issue as new devices come forth and the competition and technology race moves forward. 
How fast  a page can turn should not be a reason to buy or not buy an ebook reader… but for now it is.

ISSUE 3 – SETUP, USABILITY, AND OVERALL EASE OF USE.


Not going to get too techy here.  Overall how easy is it to place books on the reader, manage your book selection, acquire new reading material etc…

Sony - SETUP, USABILITY, AND OVERALL EASE OF USE.


Initially I was very impressed.  The Sony touch had a nice feel and simple set up for managing books.  Via wifi I could connect to the internet to Sony’s Books Store, or via the software I could manually add books downloaded to my desktop.
PROBLEM! – I could not get the software to work.  Period!  I am a fairly techy guy and I could not get the software going on my laptop.  I researched hours on forums and found countless others having the same problem.
The software problems made things VERY limited.  Books would not be properly formatted into chapters and books uploaded manually have virtually no formatting, no indenting, no paragraphs etc… 
I spent my 8 hours or so trying to get the software to work so I could properly get new books.  Fail.
I have had a total of 2 (that I can remember) unsolvable software issues in my computer history, this being #2… 
So to find out how easy it works you’ll have to find someone who could actually get the software working.  Given you can get your books in the machine.  You will like the setup.

B&N Nook – SETUP, USABILITY, AND OVERALL EASE OF USE.


Pretty machine!  Some are misled that it is a color screen but really it is only a colored navigation bar.  The ever present navigation bar is handy, and easy to navigate.  But this machine is plagued with one biiig problem.
It’s sooooo slooow! 
Navigation although well setup takes so long to load as to negate it’s smart framework.
Almost great, gone bad, by slow system speed.


Kindle 2 - SETUP, USABILITY, AND OVERALL EASE OF USE.


I had a set of free scriptures on the book within 5 minutes. 
I was browsing Google within 6 minutes.
I was browsing Amazon’s enormous selection and reading from samples within 7 minutes.
I was having the book read aloud in 7 ½ minutes…
In 10 minutes I had it loaded up with my music, old books, and knew how the entire device functioned.
In 11 minutes I was drooling and googooing about how great it was (and really haven’t stopped since.)
The Kindle connects via Wifi or free ATT network (worldwide) to download new books, browse google, etc etc..

The Winner for SETUP, USABILITY, AND OVERALL EASE OF USE?


The Kindle by far was easiest to have it out of the package, setup, and in full swing with very very slight learning curve.
The device has simple navigation, a keyboard for fast typing, quick and intuitive menus, and is very minimalist in layout.
No one wants to have to learn a new device and Kindle has done the trick.


 FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS ON SETUP, USABILITY, AND OVERALL EASE OF USE?


Some devices are just heading in the wrong direction here.  With an eReader you just want to do a few things really well.  Read, acquire new selections, and manage your library.  Anything that does less than this isn’t hitting the mark.  Anything doing more than this, AND in the process mucking up the real point of the device is also missing the mark.
Don’t get me wrong I’m all for some additional functions like web browsing, and a few others that I’ll mention at the end of this rant, but…
Any additional neat features should not detract from the original goal of the device.. to improve the reading experience.

LAST ISSUE – OVERALL PINACHE and CLOSING REMARKS.



Nook – Third/Last Place.


O Nook… your’e like that amazing pupil who had everything going for you but never reached your true potential.
Barnes and Noble has a very nice deign, a decent setup, some promising wireless features, and they know books!
The thing is just too slow to compete at this point.  BN has recognized the problem and promises to fix it soon but they should have never released a machine that turns pages so slow. 
Such an oversight on the side of BN makes me feel that they are out of touch with the reading experience, and lose some faith that they are going about this in the right way.
BN knows books, and I am sure they will bounce back with the necessary improvements (it won’t take much) to compete near the  level of the Kindle.


Sony – Second Place.


The Sony although heavier, is more durable, and has a solid nice feel to it.  The screen appears to be slightly larger and the touch screen is a nice addition, but a physical keyboard is still quicker.
Sony is venturing into new territory with eBook selection and I worry how they can keep up with Amazon whose primary focus is in books.
Sony’s device is a winner, it’s the peripheral features at the core of an eBook reader, like selection and community, and the reading experience that are my biggest hold backs for Sony.


Kindle 2 – The Winner.


When I was near the end of the rope with eBook readers, and thinking that their day had just not yet come… Kindle came.
The Kindle has taken the reading experience to the next level.
With an entire library omnipresent at your finger tips, and whatever book you want available to you in 2 clicks, I am thrilled with our new acquisition (thanks to Scott and Ohleen for the gift!).


The praise of eBook readers goes on.


I’m a situational reader.  I’m a wanna be book worm.  What I mean is that given the right conditions, (when the stars align) I read A LO maybe 15 books a month.  But if the right books aren’t in front of me, and convenient opportunities to read are not available I am not so die hard that I can’t be without them, and stick to reading the blogosphere from my computer.
Kalli, on the other hand will read anything and everything she can.  She is the most consistent reader I know.  For her, the eBook reader won’t necessarily get her reading more, but it will make her life easier (if she can tear the thing from my grips!).

For me an eBook reader provides the convenience and ease of use so that I read much more often (we’ll see if that continues).  I’m enjoying turning to the same page/screen for all my reading… whether it be a training book, leisure reading, scriptures, it’s all right there.  And when I want my next book, I don’t need to plan my trip to Barnes and Noble, or some other Book store, I can just browse the online store with my Kindle, and read the “samples” until I find my next victim.

Where to buy your eBook device?

Buying can get pretty annoying finding the official place to get your product.  I’d recommend getting it from the official home page just in case you want to take advantage of their refund policies.  They all give between 30 – 60 days for evaluation.

Further Reading… to make your choice.

I didn’t cover everything here… but Wikipedia did.  Seriously their pages on the respective readers provide all the data, specs, and some very unbiased critiques.  Below you can find the pages…


The Future of eBook Readers – All in one devices, GPS, etc etc…

 With MAC coming out with a new ebook reader (Slate?) and about 15 other companies coming out with ebook readers, we are about to benefit from our competitive free market.
Initially we wanted a device that did more than just books so we could consolidate our devices.  Laptop screens are too bright and not portable enough to read novels from.  The Iphone is just a bit too small to make it happen.
Ultimately I'd love to see a device with at least GPS, and eReader capabilities.  
Ultimately we are getting closer and closer to a tablet PC with an "eInk" screen.
Personally I think we are going to see a new break of devices combining phones/communication, reading, GPS, and apps and portable computing (not quite laptop).

Whatdya say?


Think eBook readers are a joke, and not going to catch on?
I realize this "review" is terribly incomplete, and missing alot of information like the fact that nook uses an Android (Google) operating system, and device storage etc...  I hope that the items we discussed did shed some light on the subject in general and the links provided the full specs you might be seeking, but please add your piece below!

2 comments:

GooberDiva13 said...

great review! Thanks for all the information! One thing I've always wondered about is how readable the screen is. I have trouble reading things on computers, and always have to highlight as I read so my eyes don't jump from one line to the next, therefore helping me lose my place and become confused. You mentioned briefly at the end that the screen isn't as bright as a laptop, do you find it more difficult/easier to read than an actual printed page?

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

Easier to read then a computer. It looks just like paper.

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