OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book reader

Posted by: Murph

OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book reader - 05/07/09 02:06 PM

Short version of question:
I know there are some avid readers in this forum so I'm curious to know where this technology currently sits with you all.

Long Winded Rant, (only for those who care to listen):
With a price tag of $450 plus for the newest Kindle, I'm having a hard time justifying the craving to satisfy my sci-fi movie lovin urge to buy an e-book reader. I mean, I can read a paper book from the library for free and even when I buy new, that's a lot of books I could have bought. At first it seems ridiculous.

However, if I were a student and all of my text books were available electronically, I could start to see the benefits. Carry one lightweight object instead of a backpack full of brick heavy books. Add in search functionality and it starts to get appealing. However, scribbling in the margins becomes more limited and doodling is no longer an option.

The new Kindle DX with an 8.5x11 like screen seems to be going after this market. Still, the price is daunting considering I could buy a notebook for the same price that reads e-books but does soooo much more.

The Sony e-book reader is cheaper but lacks the power of Amazon behind it. However, it supports more open formats and you can read free ebooks from Google Books. That sounds very appealing until you realize that only a very small percentage of Google Books are actually available in full text. Pretty much just books that have gone into the public domain and a very small number of authors/publishers who signed their rights away. Still, 'cheaper plus freebies' is nice.

So, although I crave the coolness of walking around like I'm on the Starship Enterprise, it seems to me, I'm just not ready to invest that much for such a limited machine. I'm sure more integrated uses will come in the future. I am almost positive I'll be a buyer once someone comes out with more of a tablet, netbook, style box that has a minimum of the following features.

thin profile, color screen for illustrations, browses the web, & emails (wirelessly of course), plays music files, free hand note taking or drawing with a stylus (I'm a visual learner & designer). Later on I expect full PC functionality and GPS.

Actually, I guess what I really want is a SUPER SUPER slim tablet, laptop. I'd pay more for that actually!

An e-book reader only that will encourage me to spend even more money by having to buy their proprietary books from their e-library, wellll... you'd pretty much have to give me the unit for nearly free, then I'd be glad to by an e-book and save some trees. I'd even pay a hundred or so to save some trees, as that price point seems more befitting a device that is so single purposed.

Actually, that's the one reason I hope it catches on and a universal (always grandfatherable) e-book format is created. Paper production on this Earth needs to slow to a crawl.

OK, long winded rant, but anyone care to say why they have, will or will not buy an e-book reader? If so, which will it be?
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book reader - 05/07/09 03:17 PM

I'll be eager to hear what others have to say about this.

I've thought a lot about buying a Kindle. Almost bought the first one. Then I thought again about buying a Kindle 2. I even had one ordered, but changed my mind and canceled it before it shipped. Now I'm thinking a third time about the Kindle 2DX.

While I have not seen a Kindle in person, I have seen e-ink displays similar to the Kindle (Sony's eReader). I know it's impressive. I know it's a super-sweet gizmo. I know I'd find a use for it and probably be one of the 'don't know how I lived without it' kind of people.

But for me, it just doesn't come close enough to my necessary price/enjoyment ratio. I think it's too expensive for what it is. $300 is sort of the mental barrier for me. When I see the Kindle, I think $249 is a more realistic price for such a piece of technology, considering I could buy a Netbook for $~300 that's much more capable as a computing device. No, it won't have that super-slick eink display in a super-thin chassis, but it can read eBooks too, play solitaire, and VPN into my work PC. ;\)

And I think Amazon's eBooks are too expensive. I've cross-checked every book I've purchased in the past 6 months to what it would have cost on a Kindle. Of the ones available for Kindle (~50%), I would have saved about $2.00 per purchase vs what I spent at the local Barnes & Noble for the dead-tree version. Even hardbacks. I suppose it would add up over time, but not fast enough for me. Of course, some would argue that the point isn't about saving money per book, it's about having all of your books with you. And you're paying for the convenience of that in the Kindle's price.

I'm not a luddite when it comes to technology. I can't count how often a friend or colleague has asked, 'so you don't have a Kindle yet?'. But I find myself wanting to want a Kindle, more than actually just wanting one. If that makes sense. And I sort of question the appropriateness of spending a not-insignificant amount of money on that sort of a purchase. Perhaps that's the 'recession' working it's magic on my psyche.

And I find even less of a desire to own any of the other eBook readers. If I were to own a reader, to me the whole point is the instant gratification of having the text. I don't want to have to rely on a PC/Mac to download & sync up the data. Just doesn't appeal to me. With Amazon's infrastructure, they deliver that. None of the other readers can do that.

At the moment, I'm holding out hope for Apple's rumored netbook/tablet for my next 'wow-wee-StarTrek' gizmo purchase. I want to wait a few months and see if that pans out. Could be a game-changer. Or it could be vaporware.
Posted by: EFalardeau

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book reader - 05/07/09 04:19 PM

I have a Sony PRS-700 and it is very good. eInk allows for great reading outdoors, but indoors tje contrast is not as good as it could get. The amazingly low power consumption makes is a very "green" product compared to LCD-based screens and you can read for sometimes 2-3 weeks without recharging.

That being said, the reason why I have one is more to use as a writer (reference books, classics, my own books to see how they look...) for proofreading. I normally have to print anywhere from 6 to 12 full copies of novels. With my current novel, I would be already at 3 copies (27$ each time), but instead I only printed it once (last Monday) and did my "reading as a reader" part on the Sony (which allows entering comments and notes). And for classics (which are free). It looks like nothing, but I read already novels that would have cost me about 60$ in cheap print.

So, my two cents here would be: avoid Kindle as you are 100% stuck with Amazon UNLESS they start supporting PDF and unless you REALLY WANT IT! \:\) If at work you print a lot of documents, then the Sony might be a good bet as it supports RTF (automatic conversion when using Word documents), PDF and one or two other formats that are available either with DRM or not. BUT (and it is a big BUT), the eInk is not quite there yet unless you read a lot outside, have good eyes (mine are a bit dammaged) or great indoort lighting (halogen or some other "white spectrum" bulbs). So you might want to wait for a new generation.

Hoping I made any kind of sense!
Posted by: EFalardeau

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book reader - 05/07/09 04:21 PM

Additional (and to do some cheap publicity) anyone who has a reader and wants to read some of my novels (to test the quality of the eBook formatting!), I have three free ones that can be downloaded from my Web-site.
Posted by: Murph

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book reader - 05/08/09 07:16 AM

I didn't realize you were an author.
I'll be starting with "The Simplicity of Life." I love the concept you have come up with for that one.

Just from the synopsis, the village, where everyone speaks very frankly but this frankness diffuses otherwise difficult situations, mirrors my family very strongly, although I probably won't say that after reading the further complexities I am sure are involved.

Thanks for the peek at your work.
Posted by: oldskoolboarder

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book re - 05/28/09 12:46 AM

Just saw this thread.

Have to give a strong vote for a Kindle 2. I bought one for a 3 week vacation last month. My wife and 6 yr daughter are avid readers. My wife can read about 2 to 3 paperbacks on a 5 hour flight. My daughter reads chapter books at the rate of about 3 per day. On a typical week, we go to the library about 3x, and she gets about 10 to 15 books at a time.

I was hesitant because I didn't like the idea of having to buy books. I can't beat my wife's argument that the library is free. But the convenience of the Kindle 2 is hard to beat for plain volume of books. I bought a bunch of books for my kid (some under $5) and a bunch of best sellers for the wife. I found out a way to mod Mobi ebooks downloaded from my local library so they could be read on the Kindle (google kindle fix). The book still 'expires' after 2 weeks but it works. The Kindle can also view pix so I was able to get some graphic novels that would display well on the Kindle, B&W works best. The Bone novel was great.

The Kindle navigation was great and it's very readable in daylight. Battery life can last up to a few days w/ several hours of daily use. In Asia, I was able to access Amazon.com and download my daily SF Chronicle, allowing me to read my daily paper. It's true, this isn't a great newspaper device, I don't think one exists, even with the Kindle DX. But I strongly believe that printed newspapers will die soon, mostly because of costs, so I've found this to be a great option, much better than reading a website. It only costs about $6/mo and is a much 'greener' alternative.

I also have an iPhone which is a FABULOUS companion with the Kindle. I was able to sync almost all of my purchased books on the iPhone, allowing me to have a 'Kindle' for both my daughter and wife at the same time. It's also cool that the iPhone app syncs to Kindle.

I've heard good things about the Sony Reader but it's hard to beat the convenience of the Kindle and iPhone.

You can read PDFs on the Kindle. You can pay the fee and have Amazon convert each file, or you can google and find free tools to convert PDFs. But it doesn't work well w/ PDFs that have pictures.

It works well w/ .TXT files, I've put a few on my Kindle w/ no issues. I've even made a TXT file, with text telling my kids to go to sleep. Then I use the text to speech and play it back to the kids. Funny.

On the 2GB Kindle 2, I was able to put on 220 books, text files and graphic novels. And I still had about 1.1GB of space. There's a lot of space...
Posted by: Murph

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book re - 05/28/09 01:04 PM

Wow, you guys read fast and furiously.

I wasn't aware of the hacks for non Amazon content but knew it was only a matter of time. This makes it more appealing. Also didn't know about iphone integration.

I think I will wait to see what happens in the Netbook market. products like the Asus T91 show some neat integration ideas. The T91 is a long promised but not yet delivered, light, netbook sized computer that has a swiveling screen that folds down to make it a tablet PC with a touch screen. It runs XP but will have an alternate interface designed for the touchscreen that looks like it will be fun to play with. No multi-touch yet though....

The only way I see me straying away from the freeness of libraries (no e-content here yet) and the simplicity of books is if I can find a product that is the right blend of multi-functionality. I could really see the advantages of being able to quickly hand gesture my way through the 200 pages plus of reports that I normally have to carry into United Way of Canada Board meeting or work sessions. I find my notebook is a bit cludgy once you get too many documents on the go.

But also, if I invest in an expensive device to read reports (and novels) I will also want it be color, web enabled, app enabled, and probably a media player too. The new Asus T91 promises all this for an unofficial guesstimate of 500 bucks, not much more than a Kindle. It also sports GPS and a TV tuner. The GPS might be occasionally handy but the TV tuner might be a bit more luxurious than practical.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to sell this product. It's not available yet and although there is lots of Youtube demos of the Interface from CES in January, the interface still looks like it has a long way to go. But it is step in the direction where I might spend my money for a new device.
Posted by: oldskoolboarder

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book re - 05/28/09 04:34 PM

I actually have a Dell Mini 9 as a Hackintosh. Runs OSX and Win 7. Great machine with a 64GB SSD. I love it. I used to wonder about the value of netbooks but now I think it has value.

Regarding multi-function, I prefer to go the single function route. Otherwise, you compromise on almost everything for the benefit of one device. I will admit though, that the iPhone turns out to be a great multi-function device for web browsing, email, calendar, apps, streaming radio, GPS, Kindle, etc. Note that I did not say phone. The phone part is crap. Blackberry does it better.

What you're looking for isn't an ereader. It's a laptop. And there's a lot of options now. When you add all those functions you want, it's not just an ereader.
Posted by: Murph

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book re - 05/29/09 07:12 AM

True. I started my thread pondering ereaders and basically came to that conclusion. I want a smaller, more portable laptop than my work version. I'm pretty sure that's what I said in my last post. heh heh heh.

Edit: but one that is a touch tablet for ease of use on planes, back decks with a beer in hand and especially in cramped meeting tables where its all reading and scratching some freehand notes in the margins. There are current solutions but it's still a maturing technology and so far nothing in the netbook size and price range.
Posted by: Murph

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book re - 08/19/09 12:30 PM

I had my hands on a HP TouchSmart TX2 today. It's more $ than I need to suit my intended purposes (unless I want a separate laptop vs. my work one) but it had some VERY well thought out features that are worth mentioning.

Somthing I have only personally seen HP do so far: A hard button over the touchpad to turn it off when you are using a real mouse or the touch screen. Nothing worse than accidentally swiping your mouse arrow across the screen and doing God knows what while you type.

As many media centric laptops do, you can clamshell it and use the keyboard side as a base to prop it up and watch media. The neat part was that he popped an IR remote control out from the Express Card port to control your music, movies, etc.

Finally, it has a capacitive touch screen to allow for multi-touch commands but it also has an active stylus. The cool part was that when it detected you using a stylus, it turned off the capacitive sensor in the screen so that you wouldn't accidentally make things happen with the palm of your hand. SMART!!!

HP put some nice thought into this unit. I'm tempted but I'm going to wait and see what pops out of the woodwork when Windows 7 gets officially released with it's built in touch screen enhancements.
Posted by: oldskoolboarder

Re: OK. Anybody bought or considering an e-book re - 08/19/09 01:26 PM

Also, note that Sony intro'ed some newer/cheaper readers last week. IIRC, they are going w/ epub for a more non-DRM solution.

I've been using my Kindle more and more and still love it. I took it to Whistler/Vancouver a few weeks ago and didn't get a 3G connection, I suppose Sprint doesn't have an agreement w/ Rogers up there. No matter, I just went to Amazon and downloaded the files (on my Hackintosh) and copied them to the Kindle easily. A thing to consider for non-US Kindle users, you won't have the convenience of using the 3G connection though I rarely use it.

Per a suggestion on head-fi, I also tried the MP3 capability. I've tried my Grado 325i's straight out of the Kindle and I was VERY impressed. Sound quality is on par w/ my iPhone 3G. It's a nice option when I want to read some magazine articles or newspapers and have some background music playing, while only using one device.

As far as an Apple tablet, don't hold your breath. However, there's reports that Apple is building one of the largest data centers in the world on the East Coast, NC IIRC. No one knows why though...