The Library In Your Pocket (Part 1) - Amazon Kindle, Kobo e-reader, Sony PRS-T2

11/20/2012 6:34:58 PM

There’s never been a better time to own an e-reader, and Ian McGurren is here to help you choose the one for you

Unlike music's digital revolution with MP3, the digital revolution with the written word hasn't gained traction with the public quite so easily. Unlike music, people don’t tend to mix up their books or need to carry more than one with them. What’s more, there’s a certain romantic view of the humble paperback that still persists to this day. Things are beginning to change, however, with Amazon stating recently that, for the first time, digital sales of books have overtaken those of physical books. That’s the kind of landmark statistic that makes people sit up and take notice, and in the same way Apple’s iPod and iTunes were the fuel for the Mp3 explosion, it’s arguably Amazon’s Kindle ecosystem that’s finally sparked the e-book market into life.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Kindle wasn’t actually the first mass produced e-book reader, with that honor going to Sony’s Librie (yep, pronounced library) when it emerged in 2005. In fact, Sony has produced a fair amount of e-book readers, so why is Amazon the e-book king?

Originally only released in the United State in late 2007, the Kindle was a sellout success, though technically speaking it wasn’t a huge departure from Sony’s product. However, like the iPod, the Kindle’s real killer blow was the Kindle store, removing all the messing around previously experienced when buying and uploading e-books and instead making them as simple to buy online as an Mp3 in the iTunes store. Of course, with the Kindle you not only get the book delivered instantly, you can also store more than one – useful for saving suitcase space on holiday.

Now of course, the e-book reader market is in full swing, and there are many different ways to get one’s e-book fix, but which suits you best? Let’s have a look at the lineup.

E-Ink Readers

The devices below all use E-Ink based screens, a form of display that has the appearance of print and is as easy to read as a regular book (see the box for further explanation).

Amazon Kindle (Kindle - $143.5/ Touch - $175.5/ Touch 3G - $272)

Description: Description: Description: Amazon Kindle (Kindle - $143.5/ Touch - $175.5/ Touch 3G - $272)

It’s a name synonymous with e-book readers like ‘iPod’ is for Mp3 players and ‘hoover’ is for vacuum cleaners. The Kindle has been the most popular e-book reader so far and for good reason: it’s simple to use and does its job well. Now in its fourth version, the Kindle is still a valid poster child for e-books. The Kindle looks good, it’s light, the battery life is excellent and, most importantly, it has the Amazon Kindle store on board. This makes purchasing and loading on new books a cinch, because it’s all there for you in a store that’s easy to search. Being Amazon, it also has the largest selection, and it will sync where you’ve read to if you read over a variety of Kindle devices.

Outside of the store, the Kindle format books as well as AZW, TXT PDF and Audible audiobooks. It comes in three varieties, all with wi-fi, two touch enabled and one also with 3G. impressively, the 3G (and GPRS) connection is free and can be used in most countries of the world – yes, still for free. While that’s great for downloading new books on holiday, combined with the basic browser it can be a godsend in a place where you don’t speak the language and computers are rare.

Kobo e-reader (Wireless - $96.5/ Touch - $128.9)

Description: Description: Description: Kobo e-reader (Wireless - $96.5/ Touch - $128.9)

Popping up in most notably in branches of WHSmith, Kobo’s e-reader is a great little device that starts at a touch under $96.5. Coming with a similar E-Ink screen to the Kindle, France and Canada’s most popular e-book reader has the notable addition of expandable memory, with a micro-SD card, allowing an easy method of getting e-books on and off the device. There’s a touch version available for an extra $32 and both come in four colors, including blue and lilac, if that is your wont. The Kobo also has access to the Kobo bookstore, offering two million books, with half of those free and public domain. Like the Kindle, the Touch version also has a built-in web browser, but it somewhat bizarrely doesn’t feature an Enter key, making some undertakings impossible.

If you can do without 3G and are happy with the Kobo store over Amazon’s, the Kobo e-reader is a goof alternative that’s a cut above generic own-brand devices.

Sony PRS-T2 ($191.9)

Description: Description: Description: Sony PRS-T2 ($191.9)

The newest e-book reader from beleaguered tech giant Sony has had its work cut out against the opposition, so it had to take a different approach in order to stand apart in a busy filed. Sony, however, may have just done that with features like pinch to zoom and syncing with offline reader Evernote – clearly, two things the Kindle cannot yet do. Beyond this, the PRS-T2 is an e-book reader like any other, albeit one with a striking design and a two-month battery lide. It has access to the Sony e-book store and will take the usual formats.

If you can live without the Kindle store but you can’t live without Evernote, then the PRS-T2 could be up your street.

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