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Old 08-09-2014, 07:38 PM   #1
Hermes_pan
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Dissatisfied w/ Kobo and Sony - are Kindle and oddball brands any better?

I am not a voracious reader, when I had my ereaders (2011+) I read about 2 books per month. Mostly I read philosophy and travel (in fact the primary purpose of owning an ereader is just to have digital travel guides plus a couple of travel writing and other non-fiction books).

Every ereader has pluses and minuses. Is there any ereader that fits my goals below? Years ago I bought a SONY pocket ereader as well as a Kobo. Both died prematurely. The obvious answer is a Kindle but I am not big on market leader bullying. I tried Caliber (about three years ago) and found it useful but a bit too nerdy. I would continue to use paper except weight and bulk is important. I have a tablet (Android) but deliberately want to avoid electric light and being online and especially dealing w/ Google (privacy intrusions). I do NOT want to be online or have 3G - for me I want a device that does *one* thing very well (well , maybe two - book audio)

Essential

1. Portability: Ideally fits in pocket

2. Large selection of compatible titles: Practically, this means can read Amazon books

3. International: Buy anything anywhere. Not tied to one nation or one credit/debit card. I am Canadian and there is a hassle factor vis-vis Amazon USA. But I spend mist of my time in 3rd world Asia.

4. Simple to use: Like a Mac in 1985

5. Can highlight and make notes: Ideally *save* them too not tied to a proprietary device/system. In the past Calibre software could not do this.

Very useful

6. Clean design: Not a lot of buttons. I want to read books not type a novel.

7. Text to speech: Can listen to books

8. Durable: Shock, rain, dust

9. No computer needed: Stand alone device

9a. Can 'lend' books

Extra (dreaming)

10. Good value: features vs. price

11. Gift cards available: For anonymity of book purchase history

12. Plays audio books

13. Can read all popular format companies and sources: public library, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

14. Can read/hear foreign language books in English: Not wonky Bing translator, I mean buying a Russian or Chinese book and being able to read/hear it in English.

15. Memory card slot: Not so much for number of books, but I like the James Bond feature of deleting titles when I cross borders into Big Brother lands).

Keeping this post in context - I mistakenly reregistered under a similar name. My previous posts can be found under user name 'Hermes'.

Last edited by Hermes_pan; 08-09-2014 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:39 PM   #2
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I'm a bit confused between your competing priorities: you don't want to be online or have 3G, but you want a standalone device with no computer needed - how do you propose to put books onto it?

If you are solid about avoiding tablets, and taking your audio wishes into account, I'd suggest taking a peek at an older Kindle Keyboard, or if you want new and multi-format support without Calibre conversions, maybe Onyx with Android. If you wanted to go smaller than six inches, I'm not sure that you have any e-ink readers with audio options.
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Old 08-10-2014, 04:58 AM   #3
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You might want to have a look at the new PocketBook Ultra.

DISCLAIMER : I've owned the Ultra for all of 4 days, so I haven't tried many things with it yet. This is my first PocketBook device, I previously had Sonys (PRS-350, T1,T3), a KoboGlo, and PW 1 and 2 (none broke, I'm just an e-reader-buying addict). I am not affiliated in anyway with PocketBook
Spoiler:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes_pan View Post

1. Portability: Ideally fits in pocket
It is slightly smaller and lighter than the PW2. 175g, 163x107x8 mm

I should add that it has the same screen as the PW2 : E-Ink Carta, 1024x758 px, 212 dpi, and front-lighting. The light is not as smooth as on the PW2, more like the Glo. I haven't seen any annoying blotches

Quote:
2. Large selection of compatible titles: Practically, this means can read Amazon books
I guess that will be your main problem. There's a store affiliated with PocketBook, but the selection is awful. The manual seems to imply you could change to another bookstore, but I'm not quite sure how (yet), or at least get automated delivery of books bought on other sites directly on the device through WiFi (no 3G). Once again, I haven't tried it yet. It can't read Amazon books, because to my knowledge only Amazon devices can without conversion and apprentice "trickery" . However, it reads ePub, FB2, txt, Djvu, PDF (I've only tried ePub and FB2). I have recently bought some books in ePub format through ebooks.com, which I found through Calibre, and it seemed to me that they have a choice almost as big as Amazon's, and no proprietary format problem (ePubs are ADE-DRM'ed). I buy 99% of my books through Amazon (even when I used mostly the Sonys or Glo) and convert them through Calibre

Quote:
3. International: Buy anything anywhere. Not tied to one nation or one credit/debit card. I am Canadian and there is a hassle factor vis-vis Amazon USA. But I spend mist of my time in 3rd world Asia.
Ebooks.com is australian, I had no trouble buying with my french credit card (there was even an option to buy in Euro). However, once more, this is based on a small experience. Amazon will have you tied to the country in which your card is issued, or, in the case on Amazon Japan, to your home address (I've bought books on Amazon Japan in France with a french card, but I had to use a former address in Japan, and de-register/re-register my PW as the books could only be sent to my Kindle, not downloaded on my computer. Quite a hassle !)

Quote:
4. Simple to use: Like a Mac in 1985
I found the interface to be rather self-explanatory. It seems it's new, and PocketBooks were more confusing before. Books can be searched by Title, Author, Date added, Series, user-made shelves, etc...

Quote:
5. Can highlight and make notes: Ideally *save* them too not tied to a proprietary device/system. In the past Calibre software could not do this.

Very useful
You can certainly highlight and make notes, also share quotations and the like (though from you post I guess it is not, by far, your main concern). I don't know about exporting them

Quote:
6. Clean design: Not a lot of buttons. I want to read books not type a novel.
Well.. it has *quite* a lot of buttons, which is one of the reasons I bought it :
  1. Four front buttons (Main screen, 2 page turning buttons, one Menus button)
  2. Two Page-Turning (!) side-buttons
  3. an on/off switch

However, it also has a touch-screen, so you could completely forgo the buttons. All buttons can be customized to their own function, the touchscreen can't (meaning fixed, pre-established zones for page-forward, page-backward, etc...)

I bought the reader mainly because it had a latest-generation screen, front-lighting and page-turn buttons.

Quote:
7. Text to speech: Can listen to books
Yes ! In many languages, with voice packs downloadable from the Obbrey website. I haven't tried it, though. It's IVONA, I think it's supposed to be good

Quote:
8. Durable: Shock, rain, dust
No idea, 4 days is too early to tell

Quote:
9. No computer needed: Stand alone device
I'm afraid not, unless you go with Amazon, and only dowload books through WiFi. That said, you can download books on the PocketBook directly from Dropbox (there's a special app on the reader, I haven't tried it yet), so technically you could set up your book collection on Dropbox at home, then go on a trip and download books from it through Wifi. For buying books, see above

Quote:
9a. Can 'lend' books
I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. I don't know, for example, if you can borrow library books with it

Extra (dreaming)

Quote:
10. Good value: features vs. price
Rather expensive, I'm afraid
170€
But it has quite a lot of features...

Quote:
11. Gift cards available: For anonymity of book purchase history
No idea. I guess it depends more on the bookstore you use.

Quote:
12. Plays audio books
Yes ! And any audio you throw at it, there's an mp3 player with headphone plug. Not tested yet, though


Quote:
13. Can read all popular format companies and sources: public library, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
As I said, it can read ePub, FB2, PDF, DJVU, Txt. So, even though I don't know about the borrowing process, I guess it *could* read library books. Only Kindles read Amazon format natively, only Nooks read B&N format natively

Quote:
14. Can read/hear foreign language books in English: Not wonky Bing translator, I mean buying a Russian or Chinese book and being able to read/hear it in English.
You mean audio on-the-fly translation ? I don't think *any* device can do that. There are extensive TTS packs, and the device comes with 20 dictionaries (ABBY dictionary). I was a bit disappointed to see that it did not come with a standard russian dictionary, considering where Obbrey is from, but there's a good one that can be bought for less than 5 euros. There's also a chinese/russian dictionary. No japanese, unfortunately. The reader interface can be set in many different languages, including russian, chinese, arabic, so I guess it could display many different books. I haven't had problems with the japanese books, except that they are displayed in "western" format (horizontally, left-to-right, not vertically, right-to-left)

Quote:
15. Memory card slot: Not so much for number of books, but I like the James Bond feature of deleting titles when I cross borders into Big Brother lands).
Yes ! Micro-SD, up to 32 Gb. Also useful for storing music and audiobooks


I should add that there's one main feature of the reader, the one it's mainly sold for, and which explains the hefty price-tag, that I haven't tried yet. It comes with a 5-MPixel camera ! Of course the screen is black-and-white Eink, but you can still take pictures for your screensavers, or picture of text. That's what it's mainly advertised for, and they say it can be used to "scan" text and make your own document. Supposedly, there's even OCR, but I have no idea whether it's good or not. You can afterward export to PDF or text (or so they say).

There are also a couple of games (Chess, Klondike Solitaire, Sudoku), and a web-browser.

On the whole, I'm rather happy with it. I have one main gripe, but that's because I like things perfect : in sleep-screen mode, book covers do not show in full-screen. That's the one thing I really miss from paper books, having nice book covers. The Sony T3 does that, but doesn't have light, the PW2 does that but only after jailbreaking and tinkering, and is only 2Gb, no audio, no page-turn buttons. I think I'll learn to live with the small-ish cover !

I bought mine online through the PocketBook/Obbrey website, but they can also be found in some stores in France. I don't know about availability in other countries. Also, it was on pre-order in June, for the end of July. I bought mine last week, but on the french site it seems availability is now at the end of August !


Sorry for the long post. I guess it sort of turned into a mini-review

Last edited by Dr. Drib; 08-10-2014 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 08-10-2014, 05:08 AM   #4
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The latest wave of PW2s have been silently being sent with 4GB storage. Can't help you on the audio/page-turn buttons, though.
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Old 08-10-2014, 05:28 AM   #5
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Kindle saves all notes in specific file which can be copied to pc. I don't believe you can entirely avoid geographic restrictions, not without jumping trough hoops. Amazon and kobo are most prevalent stores. All ereaders needs careful handling, so I'd recomend buying a cover for it.
Most stores do have gift card option, or paypal. But all books will be sitting in your account, so someone will always know what you bought.
Android tablet will fulfill most of requirements. Like Meera said, there is Onyx with eink and android.
Perhaps look into becoming member of us library?
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:31 PM   #6
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14 is not possible. I used to work for a company that dealt in translation software, and specialized dictionaries were required for each specialized type of document. The translation still was not perfect. The software would also be extremely expensive, if it existed.

Most ereaders can only read one format, either ePub or mobi, not both. Although I heard of one epub reader that could supposedly read mobi, but I heard it did not do it well. A tablet can do it, of course, using different apps for both.

Only a tablet can read both B&N and Amazon books.

It kind of sounds like, otherwise, that you want an old Kindle Touch, which had audio capability, as the new ones do not. Only an Amazon reader is going to be able to read Amazon books (aside from the Amazon apps, of course).
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Old 08-20-2014, 08:13 PM   #7
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Meera wrote: "I'm a bit confused between your competing priorities: you don't want to be online or have 3G, but you want a standalone device with no computer needed - how do you propose to put books onto it?"

Wifi or download on a public computer to USB flashdrive then move to reader

I wish to reduce my time online and instead read books. SImply not having any internet connection except when going to a cafe to download books could solve that time-waster (excessive internet use that is).

Last edited by Hermes_pan; 08-20-2014 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 08-20-2014, 08:16 PM   #8
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One solution (cheapest) is buying nothing - go to a local retailer in Canada and buying Amazon giftcards and ordering online. Read (and listen?) on my Samsung tablet.

I am curious about the Onyx Newton as well.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes_pan View Post
Meera wrote: "I'm a bit confused between your competing priorities: you don't want to be online or have 3G, but you want a standalone device with no computer needed - how do you propose to put books onto it?"

Wifi or download on a public computer to USB flashdrive then move to reader

I wish to reduce my time online and instead read books. SImply not having any internet connection except when going to a cafe to download books could solve that time-waster (excessive internet use that is).
So when you're talking about how you don't want to be online, you're actually saying that you don't want 3G? Well, that's fine, because as far as I know, the only e-ink reader currently for sale that has 3G is the 3G version of the Kindle Paperwhite. Of course, you don't have to buy the 3G version, you could always buy the wifi only version.
However, your other criteria of micro SD slot and audio rule out any current Kindle anyway.

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Old 08-23-2014, 08:29 PM   #10
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Wifi or download on a public computer to USB flashdrive then move to reader
Not possible. No USB connectivity to the readers on the market today.
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes_pan View Post
1. Portability: Ideally fits in pocket
Kobo Mini

Quote:
2. Large selection of compatible titles: Practically, this means can read Amazon books
Kindle, Kobo, Sony, Onyx Boox T68

Quote:
3. International: Buy anything anywhere. Not tied to one nation or one credit/debit card. I am Canadian and there is a hassle factor vis-vis Amazon USA. But I spend mist of my time in 3rd world Asia.
Georestrictions prevent this, but you can do this at the Kobo store by chaning the country you live in in the Kobo store's settings. So in this case, Kobo.

Quote:
4. Simple to use: Like a Mac in 1985
Sony, Kindle, Kobo, T68

Quote:
5. Can highlight and make notes: Ideally *save* them too not tied to a proprietary device/system. In the past Calibre software could not do this.
Sony, Kindle, Kobo, T68

Quote:
6. Clean design: Not a lot of buttons. I want to read books not type a novel.
Sony, Kobo, Kindle, T68

Quote:
7. Text to speech: Can listen to books
T68, Kindle Touch & Keyboard, newer Kindles don't have audio

Quote:
8. Durable: Shock, rain, dust
Kobo Aura H2O

Quote:
9. No computer needed: Stand alone device
Kobo, Sony T series, Kindle

Quote:
9a. Can 'lend' books
Not sure on this one

Quote:
10. Good value: features vs. price
Kobo, Kindle, T68, Sony

Quote:
11. Gift cards available: For anonymity of book purchase history
Kindle, Kobo

Quote:
12. Plays audio books
T68

Quote:
13. Can read all popular format companies and sources: public library, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
T68

Quote:
14. Can read/hear foreign language books in English: Not wonky Bing translator, I mean buying a Russian or Chinese book and being able to read/hear it in English.
NONE!

Quote:
15. Memory card slot: Not so much for number of books, but I like the James Bond feature of deleting titles when I cross borders into Big Brother lands).
Sony, T68, Kobo

Basically, given your list of wants, the Kobo outdoes the Kindle, Sony and the T68 outdoes Kobo, Kindle, & Sony.

Last edited by JSWolf; 08-24-2014 at 09:18 PM. Reason: typo fix
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:56 PM   #12
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Using gift cards at Amazon (and I bet all the other retailers, as well) does not guarantee anonymity of purchases. The purchases all have to be tied to your account for the books to work.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes_pan View Post
Meera wrote: "I'm a bit confused between your competing priorities: you don't want to be online or have 3G, but you want a standalone device with no computer needed - how do you propose to put books onto it?"

Wifi or download on a public computer to USB flashdrive then move to reader

I wish to reduce my time online and instead read books. SImply not having any internet connection except when going to a cafe to download books could solve that time-waster (excessive internet use that is).
In other words, the computer is needed...

I feel obligated to point out that the 3G on a Kindle (no other device does 3G anyway) will not let you do anything besides browse the Kindle Store and look up terms from within a book using Wikipedia or Bing Translate. But you don't actually have to buy the 3G version anyway.

Using the builtin browser over WiFi -- as several device lines allow -- is its own cure. Spend a little time browsing with it and you will magically no longer want to.
Trust me, WiFi on your e-ink ereader will not be a time waster -- it is far too useless for that.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:36 PM   #14
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Kindle, Kobo, Sony, Onyx Boox T68
Didn't Sony recently announce it was quitting the e-reader market, after transfering their customers to the Kobo 'ecosystem'?
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:28 PM   #15
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Didn't Sony recently announce it was quitting the e-reader market, after transfering their customers to the Kobo 'ecosystem'?
There were a few months in between the two events.

That said, Sony's have a history of lasting a good long time. The e-reader would still work and you might even be able to get a discount on it.
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