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Old 01-04-2009, 07:58 PM   #1
echoleaf
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Bebook, Cybook, eSlick or Kindle?

I'm shopping for an ereader for the first time. I'd wait for a few months, but I'm moving to Costa Rica next month and book availability there is tough.

I've checked the matrix and read up a bit, and succeeded in knocking off the iRex options (budget is $400 or less) and Sony (leery ever since they tried to foist atrac on the world). I'd really appreciate if someone could confirm my impressions and answer the questions I have left.

I searched online for the last 15 books I've read to see what ebook formats they were available in, since I've never read/bought an ebook:
  • 6 books not available in any format
  • 6 books were mobi, Kindle & pdf
  • 2 books were Kindle & mobi
  • 1 book was Kindle & pdf
  • 1 book was Kindle only

1. Does Amazon have a lot of books not available anywhere else? They don't make this obvious and it seems like it would be a selling point. If it's all the same, I'd go for something that can handle drm mobi w/ native pdf support over the Kindle. (I read the post about stripping mobi drm for use on Kindle and I don't trust Amazon to ignore it since they own Mobipocket - but I wouldn't use Whispernet at all)
2. Do (most) pdfs convert well to mobi or Kindle? I know pdf is really meant for mimicking printed paper.

Here are some specific impressions & questions on the contenders:

Bebook
  • Supports a lot of formats, but is it quantity over a quality? Maybe only pdf/mobi support matters, but I have some computer books in chm that I wouldn't mind reading.
  • Usb 1.1 is slow, but does it matter for small files?

Cybook
  • Saw a video review and really liked the UI
  • Multiple font sizes is nice, but does it really work? This would be a big bonus, to be able to really customize the experience. (I know this doesn't apply to pdf)

eSlick
  • Great price, but may be vaporware
  • PDF reflow looks cool, but would it work on all pdfs (that aren't just scanned pictures)?
  • Is PDF reflow worth picking one device over another?
  • No mobi support - can mobis be converted to pdf well? It seems backward, but if it worked than it might be worth the savings in price.

Kindle
  • Their drm is skeevy (feels like renting books if I can't move them off the device- there must be hacks around this)
  • Love the ability to take notes (I mark up all the books I own)
  • USB 2, SDHC are big plusses
  • Wireless functions useless outside US
  • It's fugly

I'll keep reading & researching, but any wisdom that y'all can share would be greatly appreciate.

Arp
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:03 PM   #2
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Just one thing........

You must have a U.S. based credit card AND address tied to your Amazon account in order to download books to your computer, and then move to your Kindle via the USB cord.

I noticed you said you were moving out of country. As long as you realize the Whispernet is not available there.

And its not fugly. good luck with your choice.

Last edited by desertgrandma; 01-04-2009 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:12 PM   #3
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I see it's sold out and unavailable for at least 7-9 weeks. I think that takes it out of the running.
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echoleaf View Post
I searched online for the last 15 books I've read to see what ebook formats they were available in, since I've never read/bought an ebook:
  • 6 books not available in any format
  • 6 books were mobi, Kindle & pdf
  • 2 books were Kindle & mobi
  • 1 book was Kindle & pdf
  • 1 book was Kindle only
1. Does Amazon have a lot of books not available anywhere else?
These are all presumably Secure PDFs, so the PDFs are only readable by Adobe Digital Editions and the Sony Readers. Since the Kindle's AZW is essentially identical to MOBI, ebooks are usually available in MOBI if they are on the Kindle. There are a few exceptions, so 1 Kindle only ebook sounds about right. The only "Kindle and PDF" ebooks I can think of are from O'Reilly. These are actually available directly from the publisher as a DRM-free bundle of PDF, ePub and MOBI. So this is one case where buying the Kindle only version is a bad deal. The MOBI version is optimized for the Kindle, but should be ok on other MOBI capabile EInk readers.

In the US the Hanlin V3 is sold as the EZ Reader. It is possible to order the BeBook from Europe, but shipping is faster for the EZ Reader. I have a Kindle and an EZ Reader. There isn't much to choose between them for MOBI ebooks, the Kindle has a cleaner font but the EZ Reader shows more text per page. I like the EZ Reader's directory support, which is a big help if you have a lot of ebooks. I did not try CHM, but I doubt this is all that great on the EZ Reader. It is sometimes possible to use Windows MobiPocket Reader to convert CHM to MOBI, but this often does not work. The Kindle does not read PDFs, you have to convert them to AZW (MOBI) and this option is also available for other devices via Windows MobiPocket Reader.

Buying for the Kindle is extremely easy, even without Whispernet. If convenience is paramount, then the Kindle is best. The Cybook (available in the US from Books on Board) may today have better MOBI support than the EZ Reader, but Hanlin has a much shorter software upgrade cycle than Bookeen and it is catching up. The Cybook does not have directory support. The EZ Reader does not have dictionary support.
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:59 PM   #5
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Thanks Wallcraft - your insight helps quite a bit.

Quote:
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In the US the Hanlin V3 is sold as the EZ Reader. It is possible to order the BeBook from Europe, but shipping is faster for the EZ Reader.
Much thanks - I hadn't considered the shipping. Cost is a tad lower too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
like the EZ Reader's directory support, which is a big help if you have a lot of ebooks.
Since I'll be sharing the device with my wife, this would be a real help. So would the bundle with 2 sd-cards since my wife & I can split them and have our own 'bookshelves...'

A couple of other reviews on the forum say that PDF support is good too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
Buying for the Kindle is extremely easy, even without Whispernet. If convenience is paramount, then the Kindle is best.
Convenience sounds great, but I won't be able to buy the Kindle in the next month:-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
The Cybook (available in the US from Books on Board) may today have better MOBI support than the EZ Reader, but Hanlin has a much shorter software upgrade cycle than Bookeen and it is catching up. The Cybook does not have directory support. The EZ Reader does not have dictionary support.
I noticed the firmware upgrades listed on the Hanlin Gen3 wiki page. I think this would make a difference in the long-run. Much thanks - this is really helpful. Looks like it's down to the EZ Reader & Cybook, with the edge to the EZ Reader. I really wish I could get my hands on these to get a feel for them...
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:31 PM   #6
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Figures that I can knock the Iliad for cost but the bigger screen & notetaking ability are sooo tempting..
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echoleaf View Post
Convenience sounds great, but I won't be able to buy the Kindle in the next month:-(
Good things come to those who wait. I'm just sayin....

BTW: The eSlick doesn't seem to be supporting ANY DRM format at all. So unless you want to break DRM it would be a non-starter. That said, if you ARE willing to break DRM and convert then pretty much ANY of the listed devices would be able to read the content you want.

Personally, I think the Kindle provides the best choice for features, content selection, content price and support which should not be dismissed.

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Old 01-04-2009, 10:58 PM   #8
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Waiting for a bit may be possible, but then the problem becomes getting the device. Either someone comes to visit and brings it down (possible) or we ship it and deal with any customs issues that may arise.

Waiting is tempting though, as I'm curious what may be announced at CES. I myself would love something with a larger screen and notational abilities. I don't think I can make a final decision until I know what's forthcoming. This is made easier by the fact that every time I see a video review of a different device, I feel like I'm back to square one :-P
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:16 AM   #9
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You can move books off a Kindle quite easily with a USB cable just as if it were a removable drive. You can also download them to your computer from Amazon.

A few points that may or may not matter to you:

Cybook allows you to load your own fonts and has dictionary lookup. You can have multiple dictionaries, which IMO is a really cool feature.

Kindle has dictionary lookup (one dictionary) and content search. It searches everything on your Kindle. I would prefer to be able to pick between searching a given book, specifying multiple books, or searching the whole Kindle. Surprisingly most of the current crop of e-ink readers do not have any search. This was a big deal to me.

One point about content: Amazon's prices are usually lower. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. This difference is most noticeable in new releases. If you don't read a lot of new releases the cost difference may not be enough to alter your buying decision.

A couple weaknesses I do find with the Kindle: PDF conversion isn't that great. The keyboard is fine for entering search terms and making short notes. I wouldn't want to do extensive note-taking with it.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:48 AM   #10
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The Kindle has a lot of features I like - like note taking & searching. The latter alone would be great for computer books or if I tag something while reading.

It's been hard getting a handle on Amazon's drm. If I can move books off the Kindle and save them on the pc, that sounds great. There were a number of comments on the web that made it seem like you were limited to Kindle's capacity and had to delete something to make room for new books (which makes it seem like renting vs buying).

I'm curious what will be announced this week. If I can hold off until summer - when I presume someone from the US will come visit - maybe I can get a Kindle or a next generation model.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:49 AM   #11
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Multiple font sizes is nice, but does it really work? This would be a big bonus, to be able to really customize the experience. (I know this doesn't apply to pdf)
Quick answer : yes, it works fine.
The different sizes offer a very wide range of text size.

I haven't tried to load my own fonts yet, but I've read here many reports of people doing it successfully.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:51 AM   #12
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The Kindle has a lot of features I like - like note taking & searching. The latter alone would be great for computer books or if I tag something while reading.

It's been hard getting a handle on Amazon's drm. If I can move books off the Kindle and save them on the pc, that sounds great. There were a number of comments on the web that made it seem like you were limited to Kindle's capacity and had to delete something to make room for new books (which makes it seem like renting vs buying).



I'm curious what will be announced this week. If I can hold off until summer - when I presume someone from the US will come visit - maybe I can get a Kindle or a next generation model.
No, you simply add an SD card. I have a 4 GB on mine, and it should hold about an addition 4000 books. If I want more, some people report the 16 GB works fine.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:57 AM   #13
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Yes I'd agree on the fonts too with the Cybook. Different people read better with different fonts, and I used recommendations from here to choose and install half a dozen fonts, then chose the one I preferred at the right size for my own reading.

All you do to put new fonts on is drag and drop them to the fonts folder on the reader. So you can do that while you're loading new books.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:25 AM   #14
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Quote:
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It's been hard getting a handle on Amazon's drm. If I can move books off the Kindle and save them on the pc, that sounds great. There were a number of comments on the web that made it seem like you were limited to Kindle's capacity and had to delete something to make room for new books (which makes it seem like renting vs buying).
OK a few things here.

1. With any eBook reader you can only store on the device as much as the device will hold. That seems to be a given. However, you can expand the capacity with SD memory cards. A 2GB memory card will hold several thousand books.

2. One thing you might have heard is that you can only d/l from whispernet to the internal memory not the SD card. So, if you don't have room, yes you will need to make some. You can move books from main memory to the SD card with content manager on the Kindle. Or plug it into your PC and manage it with Windows Explorer/Finder. Or if you don't have more room (SD card) just delete the book. But that doesn't mean it is gone... see 4 below.

3. Yes, you can move the ebook files to your PC. But, you will not be able to read them there.

4. Everything you buy from the Kindle store is saved by Amazon in your Media Library. You can access this library from your PC or from your Kindle w/ whisper net and redownload and books at any time.

Hth,
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Old 01-05-2009, 01:17 PM   #15
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Bebook
  • Supports a lot of formats, but is it quantity over a quality? Maybe only pdf/mobi support matters, but I have some computer books in chm that I wouldn't mind reading.
  • Usb 1.1 is slow, but does it matter for small files?
Read a review the other day where they slated the BeBook because of it's 1.1 usb speed. But really you have to ask yourself, how often will you be copying more than a couple of books over to it (except when you first get it). That's a whole couple of meg which is going to transfer in seconds.

Also bear in mind, the first thing I did when I bought the BeBook (I got a Hanlin) was buy a 1GB SD card. All my books are transfered directly to that via a card reader (or the built in slot if I'm using my laptop). I haven't used the usb connection at all, aside from to plug it into a usb wall charger to recharge it

Quantity/Quality - yes, I think you're correct in this assumption at this time. The only format that is well supported (and it's really really well supported) is FB2. The other formats work, but each have their own quirks with viewing/usage. I just buy .lit books and extract to html then convert to fb2.

However for a user that doesn't fancy converting book and just wants to download and read, especially if it's mobipocket books you want to read, then I'd probably say get the Cybook rather than BeBook.

I wouldn't swap my Hanlin for a Cybook though. I don't mind converting books and the support for other formats is getting better with each firmware release. Plus there's the OpenInkPot project, which if it manages to get .lit and mobi support to be as good as the FB2 support will make the Hanlin an even better device and totally remove the need for conversion. Better EPub support would also be incredibly useful as EPub starts to gain wider usage.

PDF support isn't the best, but that's true of pretty much every ebook reader due to the limit screen size. Some PDF's are great, others are un-readable. CHM worked well from what little I tested it though.
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