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Old 06-12-2011, 11:41 PM   #1
sedition
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Best $200 or less e-ink with epub + pdf + expansion please

Hi Folks,

I'm very much a late-comer to the world of e-reading.

I want to buy an e-ink e-reader that is less than $200USD

I'm a Canadian expat and I live in Taiwan.

I will be returning to Canada and the US for a visit this summer so I have access to any e-readers available in Taiwan, Canada or the USA.

I teach English to university aged students.

Its getting to the point where I need an e-reader for work to keep up with many of my students, many of whom are reading texts and novels and many of whom are starting to adopt the Kindle 3.

I also need an e-reader for my own personal reading and hopefully with the following functions:

- E-ink (pearl I guess is the newest and best e-ink technology right now)

- Reads epub and pdf (I would like it if it could render pdf documents from scanned material but I don't think any e-ink readers do this well. At very least it should be able to read pdf's ripped with Pdf-Creator)

-WiFi

-Expansion slot (SD or Micro SD)

-Library access (I'd like to be able to borrow books from my home-town library in Canada. I've heard that these books are mainly lent in epub format but I'm not entirely sure if I can even loggin and borrow books from overseas.)

-Dictionary (similar to what the Kindle has)

- 6 or 7 Inch display

-The ability to make some notes (similar to what the Kindle has)

Would also be great but not entirely important if it also had....
-e-ink color to read comics
-web browser that works well
-mp3 and / or Loss-less audio playback
-Could somehow read Chinese characters
-Could also read .txt + .doc + .html
-High lighting text
-Replaceable battery
-Some kind of integration with Calibre

* NOTE: I have not entirely ruled out the Kindle -and although its the only e-ink reader I've played with- I suspect I would like to get something that is more DRM free and less tied into any proprietary format.

In the next 6-8 months or so, I will do a technology upgrade aligned with the release of the new HTC phones and HTC dual core digital pads that are running Android Honey Comb. It is likely that I will be able to use these devices to read color documents and comics and such but I really believe that e-ink is what I continue to use to read novels and newspapers and text books into the future because it is so very easy on the eyes. It would be great if I could make a good e-ink reader purchase.

Any advice on what Is should get would be really swell.
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:12 PM   #2
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All of the ereaders are tied to some type of format. EPub is a format. The EPub readers all read Adobe DRM and then there is the B&N DRM which can only be read on the Nook. If what you are talking about is being tied to a store based on format that is different.

The store has not been that huge of an issue for people using either format. There are more stores that sell EPub books then Mobi. There are bookstores that sell Mobi books that are not Amazon and the Amazon store is huge.
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:03 AM   #3
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Yes, that is what I meant. Thanks for the correction.

Any advice on a reader?
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:45 AM   #4
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I am biased towards the Kindle but it does not read EPub which you want. Pretty much everything else you list is either available on all or none of the devices. About 1/3 of your list is available on Kindle only now.

-e-ink color to read comics
No such device exists

-web browser that works well
The best e-ink web browser is the Kindle. BN Nook Touch has a browser but it is suppose to be pretty bad and BN does not advertise its existance. The Sony 950 has a web browser that works with WiFi only.

-mp3 and / or Loss-less audio playback
This would be the Kindle or the Sony. I don't think the new Nook has mp3 capability anymore, I don't think the Kobo Touch has this ability.

-Could somehow read Chinese characters
I know the Kindle can, I don't know how well. No idea about the others

-Could also read .txt + .doc + .html
I think they all can do this

-High lighting text
I think they all can do this

-Replaceable battery
I don't think any of the mainstream readers have this now. I think the Nook Touch has an integrated battery. I could be wrong.

-Some kind of integration with Calibre
They can work with Calibre. Calibre can email things to the Kindle. The USB can be used on all of the devices.

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Old 06-15-2011, 12:23 AM   #5
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Thanks
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:38 AM   #6
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You should check out the two promising new readers from Barnes and Nobel and Kobo - the Kobo Touch, and the Nook Simple Touch, both of which have 6 inch eInk Pearl screens like the Kindle, and both of which support EPUB and have nice touch screen interfaces (unlike Kindle).

The Nook STR is an Android based device, which means that it has the potential for 3rd party software support. Because of this, the Nook will almost certainly eventually have much more sophisticated capabilities than either the present Kindle 3 or the new Kobo, both of which use proprietary Linux firmware, and are supported only by occasional updates to fix bugs, by their respective manufactures (and almost never to add major new features)

Unfortunately, from many reports here on this forum, the Nooks are not supported outside the U.S. by B&N, so if your Nook ever had a problem, you would have to arrange for someone with a U.S. shipping address to return it for you for warranty service.

Kobo seems to have slightly better support outside the U.S., and a little better PDF handling than the Nook (though this could change in the future, after some of the better Android PDF Apps get tweaked up to run well on the Nook STR)

Last edited by delphin; 06-15-2011 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:49 AM   #7
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Kobo is planning on being available in more countries across the globe but we don't know when and I have not memorized the countries. I know Australia is one and I thought Germany and a few other European countries were on the list.

The problem is that the Kobo does not have many of the features that the OP wants.

What the OP needs to ask himself is how is he going to use the device.

Does he really need a web browser? I don't use mine even though the DXG and K3 have one. The K3 is better then the DX but I would rather wait until I was on my netbook or home computer to check the web.

Does he really need an MP3 player? I have never used mine on any of my Kindles. My IPod works better for me and is small enough to fit into my pocket or clip onto what I am wearing.

Does he really need a replaceable battery? I didn't use that feature on my K1.

If he really wants all of those features then he is probably going to a Kindle. If he thinks about it and does not want those features, he should probably go with a Sony. I believe that they are available in Taiwan.
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Old 06-15-2011, 05:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ProfCrash View Post
Kobo is planning on being available in more countries across the globe but we don't know when and I have not memorized the countries. I know Australia is one and I thought Germany and a few other European countries were on the list.

The problem is that the Kobo does not have many of the features that the OP wants.

What the OP needs to ask himself is how is he going to use the device.

Does he really need a web browser? I don't use mine even though the DXG and K3 have one. The K3 is better then the DX but I would rather wait until I was on my netbook or home computer to check the web.

Does he really need an MP3 player? I have never used mine on any of my Kindles. My IPod works better for me and is small enough to fit into my pocket or clip onto what I am wearing.

Does he really need a replaceable battery? I didn't use that feature on my K1.

If he really wants all of those features then he is probably going to a Kindle. If he thinks about it and does not want those features, he should probably go with a Sony. I believe that they are available in Taiwan.
I own a Sony, but did not suggest one simply because the model he would need is the PRS-950 which cost a little more then he wants to spend.

Some lucky folks have found a 950 at their local Best Buy on sale for 199 but that seems to have been a one-time deal, and at the SonyStyle web site they are $299, which is about a hundred dollars more than the OP was looking to spend.

If the OP has a friend in the U.S. who is willing to check out his or her local Borders or Best Buy and can find one on clearance for $199 then I would DEFINITELY have them grab one at that price.

Amongst the compact readers, the Sony 950 does have the unique distinction of having a larger 7 inch eInk 1024x600 screen instead of a 6 inch 800x600 screen, which makes it a better bet for PDF viewing, and I agree that the original poster would undoubtedly be quite happy with this reader, IF one can be found at a reasonable price.

As far as the Kindle goes -

I'm sorry, but I don't think giving someone a Kindle sales pitch based on a big list of 'features' THAT JUST DON"T WORK VERY WELL, is doing them any favors.

I don't think that the Kindle 3 battery is considered user replaceable, any more than the Nook, Kobo, or Sony.

I have seen instructions on the web about how to disassemble them and do the change anyway, and I suspect that this will eventually be true for the new Nook and Kobo Touch as well.

After using a Kindle for a week, I would NOT recommend one to to my worst enemy;

- It's keyboard interface is hideous even by 1980 MS-DOS standards, with lot's on arcane ALT-THIS and ALT-THAT 'shortcuts'.

- Between klutzy keyboard navigation, and slow and jumpy eInk screen, the web browser is really NOT a pleasant web surfing experience.

- The so-called MP3 music and audio book playback are so poorly implemented as to be USELESS - You can't even select tracks for background music, and It will take you a week to find your place in a full CD length MP3 file audio book using Kindles hideous playback controls. NO JOKING, THE AUDIO PLAYER ON THE KINDLE IS THE WORST I HAVE EVER SEEN IN A COMMERCIAL PRODUCT.

- If you want to re-flow a PDF, or convert foreign format on your Kindle, you have e-mail the book or document to yourself though Amazon so they can convert it for you - Talk about KLUDGEY CRAP - The Kobo, Sony, and Nook all do re-flow and almost all other document handling internally, and do at least as good a job of it in the process as Amazon (most say better)

It goes just goes on-and-on.

In fairness, the actual reading experience on the Kindle isn't too bad.

The Kindle does have a pretty good default font, and the eInk Pearl screen looks great.

And let's face it, for simple reading, all you are basically dealing with is the page-forward and page-back buttons, and this apparently was too simple even for Amazon to screw up.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:10 PM   #9
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costs 120$ to get sony to replace your battery
$59 for kindle
kobo won't replace it
don't know about nook

nook and kobo have ghosting issues.

the sony have reportedly used lesser quality pearl screens, but not recently

kindle has mobipocket and not epub. i don't use calibre. haven't needed to. haven't found a ebook i wanted that wasn't available for kindle. project gutenberg even boasts a kindle format for titles you can click and download to your kindle right from the kindle browser, which the nook lacks, btw.

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Old 06-15-2011, 09:58 PM   #10
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costs 120$ to get sony to replace your battery
$59 for kindle
Kindle customer support is excellent, I won't let my distaste of the Kindle's software prevent me from giving credit where credit is due, but the point I was making is that the battery is NOT user replaceable any more than it is for the Sony.

In fact, the ONLY mass-market eReader that was listed that does have a user replaceable battery was the old original eInk Nooks, and I don't think this was retained as a feature on the just released newer Touch Nook models.

In the case of my Sony, I found the full service manual here on Mobileread, so I can see EXACTLY what is involved in replacing the battery, and am confident that I can handle battery replacement when and if it is ever needed (The batteries for all the older sonys are available online for about 40 to 50 dollars, so I am confident I will be able to find one for my 650 if needed).

When I looked at one of the newer Touch Nooks for about 15 minutes, I did not notice any excessive ghosting issues.

Right now, both the new Nook STR and Kobo Touch devices do use a very quick screen update to minimize the annoying eInk flash common to the current Kindles, Sony's etc. This is great, but there is some concern about whether this will cause unacceptable levels of ghosting. In the end, if it does prove in the least bit objectionably, I am sure that Kobo and B&N will update their software to alter the screen refresh.

So far, my own personal experience, and what I have seen in reports by MORE EXPERENCED users, indicate that it's not really that bad.

I think that often folks who have limited experience with eInk devices freak out the first time they see even a tiny level of ghosting, because they assume that it means something is 'broken'.

This is not the case. Ghosting is something that I have occasionally seen on Kindles and Sonys as well. For example, I have found that nearly ALL eInk devices will show some temporary ghosting issues when the reader is subjected to sudden wide temperature changes.

So far as screen quality goes - I was the one who reported that my 650 screen just doesn't quite have as white of whites, and as black of blacks, as some of the newer Nooks, Kindles, Kobo's etc. but then again my reader was purchased just after the 650s hit the market, and things seem to have improved a bit since then.

Sorry I brought this up now, but of course it is a little anoying seeing readers that cost 100 dollers LESS than I paid with better Pearl screens.

Sony needs to understand that when you charge a premium price, you better deliver a premium product.

But from what I have seen lately, the screen quality situation seems to have improved, and if you get one you don't like you can certainly return it.

With the Sonys now on clearance at MUCH LOWER PRICES, I think they have become quite a bargain - IF YOU CAN FIND ONE.

I will say that, other than very slightly sub-par contrast on my Pearl screen, in all other respects, my PRS-650 has been absolutely a JOY.

I have over 1500 books loaded, and reliablity and performance has been really solid. It lets me read EPUBs from a dozen sources around the web flawlessly, and does a much better job with PDFs than the Kindles, Nooks, and Kobos that I have seen.

A Sony 950 at a good price would be just about perfect in meeting nearly every single one of the OP's requirements, and given the clearance prices I have seen, would be a very good match.

If he or she can live without WiFi the 650 should also be considered.

Last edited by delphin; 06-15-2011 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:05 PM   #11
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I'm sorry, but I don't think giving someone a Kindle sales pitch based on a big list of 'features' THAT JUST DON"T WORK VERY WELL, is doing them any favors.
I don't believe that is what I did. My first post answered his specific list of requirements. My second post suggested that he think if he really needs those things and then suggested that he get a Sony since it is available in Taiwan and is a good international reader.

Kobo and Nook are not going to work as well for him since they are not supported in Taiwan.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:24 PM   #12
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I would recommend the Sony PRS-950 or 650, and if you cannot find one for under $200, try looking at the Kobo.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:38 PM   #13
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I'm with Latinandgreek, a Sony because the better integration with Calibre. But they are above the 200 limit. They are too pricey for being just a simple eink reader.

Without compromising quality, Kindle 3 has most of those requirements with an awesome price. Kindle is for sure a better and more mature product than Kobo though.
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Old 06-16-2011, 06:41 PM   #14
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I'm with Latinandgreek, a Sony because the better integration with Calibre. But they are above the 200 limit. They are too pricey for being just a simple eink reader.

Without compromising quality, Kindle 3 has most of those requirements with an awesome price. Kindle is for sure a better and more mature product than Kobo though.
A 'mature' product with kludgey 'experimental' features that don't work very well?

Like Kindle's 'mature' MP3 player that won't even let you select the track you want to listen to as background music while reading?

Or it's poor support of sideloaded Audio books? If you load an audio book converted to a single 80 minute MP3 (which is pretty common), kindle will not only NOT save your place, it makes the process of manually trying to find where you left off listening a nightmare. For standard MP3 audio files, Kindle will only let you jump forward in 30 second jumps (and forces you to hit several keys every time you want to do that!)

So, to find your place in a long MP3 track, you need to set there hitting keys hundreds of times! (on a Sony or the original Nook, you can just drag the position bar to the correct spot in a second or two).

And the Kindles use of really lame MS DOS style ALT-KEY this, and ALT-KEY that, keyboard shortcuts makes it a 'mature' software design ONLY BY 1980's standards.

So I guess that if by 'mature' you mean 'old and feeble', I would agree with you, but if you meant 'mature' as in 'sophisticated and capable', sorry, Kindles half baked 'experimental' features alone make that an oxymoron.

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Old 06-16-2011, 07:11 PM   #15
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A 'mature' product with kludgey 'experimental' features that don't work very well?

Like Kindle's 'mature' MP3 player that won't even let you select the track you want to listen to as background music while reading?

Or if you load an audio book converted to a single 80 minute MP3, kindle will not only NOT save your place, but will force you to hit several keys just to jump forward 30 seconds, so you need to set there hitting keys hundreds of times trying to find your place (on a sony or the original nook, you can just drag the position bar to the correct spot in a second or two).


And the Kindles use of stupid MS DOS style ALT-KEY this and ALT-KEY that makes it a 'mature' software design ONLY BY 1980's standars.

So I guess that if by 'mature' you mean 'old and feeble', I would agree with you, but if you meant 'mature' as in 'sophisticated and capable', sorry, Kindles half baked 'experimental' features alone make that an oxymoron.
What a useless post!
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