Kindle Kobo Nook Faceoff – The eBook revolution is here to stay. Amazon recently announced that digital eBooks had set a record by outselling hardcovers. They are expected to outsell paperbacks shortly. Nonetheless, the types of devices we currently use for reading this sort of book (smartphone, tablet computer, digital e reader) are not necessarily the end of the line in the technology development.
Last holiday season, we examined the most popular e-readers available to shoppers. Since that time, a number of companies have made minor changes in their lineups by adding some new additions and implementing some serious price-drops. All of this has provided quite a bit more choice in eReaders.
Oh, and we can’t forget the iPad thing.
It seemed, at first, like the iPad was going to cause an extreme change in the e-reader market. Recent sales have been through the roof, but E-ink readers have experienced the same popularity. When we compiled this revised roundup, we questioned whether or not to include the iPad. Apple has announced a new (magic) category for iPad, claiming that it is an entirely new breed of device.
Aside from all of the hype, this writer tends to agree. Among e-readers, iPad is unique in that it is actually a multimedia device that includes the capacity to be used as an e-reader. Without taking into account any of its other features, as an e-reader, the iPad does not hold up well against its competitors. There can be some eye strain over long periods of looking at the screen which can be difficult in brighter light. It weighs about three times as much as the average e-reader and has a significantly shorter battery life (10 hours compared to several weeks for most ereaders).
One important piece of info is that is at least double the price of a dedicated e-reader. To put it simply, you would be better off somewhere else if all you want is an e reader. Likewise, if you really want a full featured multimedia experience, you must go with iPad. It really doesn’t have any competition in this sense. A dedicated e-reader is no comparison.
In that vein, we have gathered the best of the best in e-readers to review here. The following details our observations and thoughts, and we would love for you to leave some of your own.
Kindle Kobo Nook Faceoff – The Barnes & Noble Nook
Supports: Fictionwise EPub (Non or Adobe DRM), pdb, pdf, jpg, gif, png, bmp, and mp3 files.
We didn’t find a lot to like about the Nook the first time we reviewed it. Now, several months have passed, and there have been some upgrades, but we are still not enthusiastic about it. We will acknowledge these points. Here are the good features of the Nook: Unique color touchscreen navigation, fast refreshing display screen, and good size and weight to facilitate long term reading.
There are other features that we really like, though. For example, you can “loan” an e-book to a friend for as much as two weeks at no charge. You can read e-books free of charge any time you are actually inside a Barnes and Noble store. In this situation, you can also get free or special content. Nook also features a great e-book display, including actual page numbers if you can believe that! The only other e-reader that does this is Sony.
Unfortunately, the Nook just doesn’t have the hardware power it needs. It is a novel e-reader, but it falls short in this way. Navigation of the Nook is difficult. Some kinds of technology, such as the iPod, the mouse, and so on, are easy to learn because they make sense. Not so with the Nook.
It was hard to view the book list, read books, or turn pages of a newspaper because the color touchscreen was really slow and we had to poke it a whole lot of times. Often, this got no response. The Nook also cannot display doc, txt, rtf, and other common file types. Barnes & Noble has a winner with Nook, which is very popular. It has a lot of capabilities that should spread to other e-readers in the future, but it is not our favorite.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook costs $149 and has Wi-Fi capability only. With both Wi-Fi and 3G it is $199.
Kindle Kobo Nook Faceoff – Kobo’s E-Reader
Supported formats are: Adobe DRM, ePub, pdf.
The good points include the fact that you can use the Kobo to read books from Borders’ online eBook store, but it is still high-priced and is not really a favorite. It is very comfortable to read for a long period of time because it weighs about the same as a paperback book (approximately 8 oz). Kindle comes in second on this count.
Similar to a 1st or 2nd generation iPod, the Kobo has an interface that includes 4 labeled buttons on the side as well as a directional pad. It is very simple to use. You can view all of your media by pressing HOME. You can navigate within a book by using MENU. Adjust setting from any screen with DISPLAY. Use BACK to return to the previous page or to cancel an action.
The D-pad is used for both clicking through the menu and flipping pages. You will get a blue light of acknowledgment in the top right hand corner of the frame when you hit a button. It’s something we love. Plus, you will receive 100 free e-books after you get started. Not too bad of a deal.
What does it need? Kobo had great intuitive simplicity, but it’s still the slowest of all of the e-readers we tried. Right from startup to the details such as page turns, it just is not quick. Additionally, there is no Wi-Fi or 3G to use for uploading content and you have to use a computer frequently; it does have an exposed SD card slot. It supports no audio formats and the least number of other formats.
If it didn’t cost so much (as much as other devices that have a whole lot more features) this wouldn’t be a problem. Now they have lowered the price to about $129; nonetheless, it’s still expensive. If you don’t want to read daily periodicals and you do want to have a very rugged, thin, light, easy to use eBook reader, this will work for you. We like it a lot, but the price is too high compared to the price drop of the Kindle 3.
The most recent price on the Kobo Ereader is $129 (down from $149).
Kindle Kobo Nook Faceoff – The Sony PRS-900BC Reader Daily Edition
Supports these formats: bmp, mp3, aac,jpg, png, gif, txt, rtf, doc, pdf (Non or Adobe DRM), ePub (Non or Adobe DRM).
We like the fact that it is easy to use for page turning and navigation. This is a benefit that cannot be understated. This standard of navigation has come to be expected, so it’s hard (if not impossible) to get used to anything else. Of course, fans of BlackBerry love the keypad.
The 900 works well and is easy to use. It’s not as fast or smooth as a typical smartphone touchscreen, but it’s still good. To select, poke, and to turn the pages, you swipe. There are 5 buttons located on the front for such functions as finding the home screen and switching font sizes.
Power, volume, and the wireless functionality are regulated by three others found at the top and bottom. The chassis is composed of a sturdy metal, and it comes with a sleek leather case. It turns pages briskly, and it has great interface options for reading periodicals that do not tax your vision.
The 900 is the largest of all of the e-readers in this group. It is a hulking behemoth in every way. Here are its dimensions: .5″ thick, 5″ wide, 8″ tall, with a screen that is 7.1″. Additionally, it weighs 13 oz. If you add the standard cover, it’s a bit heavier. All of this just makes this e-reader unworkable because you can’t just curl up with it and read, so what’s the point? The display is a little gray and muddy, but it can be read.
The reflective touchscreen overlay interferes a bit, and is actually a weak point for the iPad. When you put that with the price, which is nearly one and a half times the price of other models, we don’t really see the appeal. Larger, bulkier, more difficult to read, expensive? There’s bound to be fans of the 900 who will be willing to trade some features for the fact that it is the only currently available touch screen.
The Sony PRS-900BC Reader Daily Edition costs $250.
Kindle Kobo Nook Faceoff – The Amazon Kindle 3
Supports the following formats: Kindle (.AZW, .AZW1), Audible (aa, aax), bmp, pdf, mp3, txt, jpg, gif, png, html, rtf, doc, mobi, prc, and doc.
It’s poor sportsmanship to root for the frontrunner, but in all honesty, we must. We are even more excited by nearly every one of the features of the Kindle 3 than we were for the Kindle 2. It’s a lot better than previous incarnations.
It’s lighter, brighter, slimmer, and faster. It also has a longer battery life and more storage. And don’t forget that there aren’t many on the market that cost less than the WiFi version. The D-pad and the new keyboard are quite nice. The eInk screen has great contrast, in fact it practically glows in the dark.
The cons: We have very few issues, most of which have to do with E-ink in general: With the rapidfire technological growth that we have been experiencing, e-readers feel a bit like a step backwards. We do have a few complaints about it. It’s unfortunate that Kindle has no memory card slot.
Additionally, loading even the simplest document types means e-mailing them to the device. Then you have to convert them. You can’t just drag and drop them. Kindle can’t read the majority of unconverted file types; nonetheless, it is possible to drag and drop files. Kindle also doesn’t read ePub books, so you miss out on a lot of free reading. The Kindle remains the e-reader to beat in state-of-the-art technology and remains the only one we recommend without qualification.