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Old 03-22-2009, 07:52 PM   #1
Djehuty
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Should I buy a reader at all? (Help!)

My apologies for posting so many questions in such a short time. This will be the last, at least for a while.

I've been trying to puzzle out which reader to buy, and I'm beginning to wonder whether I should buy anything just now. I definitely want one -- one book read on a Kindle 2 had me hooked -- but it seems they all have some truly impressive drawbacks.

A brief list of my e-book needs: Good screen quality, reliability, good PDF support, Mobipocket support, able to use it in the US and Canada. Wireless, dictionary lookup, annotation, and so forth are nice but not necessary.

Please tell me if I have any of this wrong, or if I should re-think any of these conclusions....

Kindle - Pro: Looks nice, works well, large selection through Amazon. Con: Forever limited to Amazon only, very poor PDF support, incompatible with Canada.

iRex iLiad - Pro: Nice large screen, PDF and Mobipocket. Con: Very expensive, poor tech support and customer service, poor battery life, service requires shipping to Europe.

iRex Digital Reader - Pro: Very large screen, PDF and Mobipocket. Con: Astonishingly expensive, poor tech support and customer service, poor battery life, slow and buggy, service requires shipping to Europe.

Cybook - Pro: Mobipocket and PDF, cheaper than the iLiad. Con: Only four shades of grey, same price as the Kindle (which seems high), service requires shipping to Europe.

BEBOOK / EZ-Reader - Pro: Supports just about every format in the universe, less expensive than most. Con: Only four greyscale shades, rebranding of Chinese product through companies I've never heard of, who knows what will happen if it needs service or support.

Sony PRS-505 - Pro: Looks good, good screen, good PDF support, good tech and customer support, good warranty (which none of the others seem to have). Con: No Mobipocket support, therefore only a rather small selection of current books available.

Maybe I'm making too much of the various drawbacks, but I'm actually beginning to regret sending my Kindle back -- even though I wouldn't be able to use it after I move to Canada!

So, in a word:

Last edited by Djehuty; 03-22-2009 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 03-22-2009, 08:32 PM   #2
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Hi

To answer your question: Yes!
Besides you already have recognized it: “one book read on a Kindle 2 had me hooked”!

Best shopping,
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Old 03-22-2009, 08:48 PM   #3
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FWIW - I recently bought the Sony PRS-700 nearly 4weeks ago. It is great but PDF does suffer a bit. Primarily because of screen size and the fact that the zoom feature resets when you turn the page.

I thought about the Irex Digital Reader (actually had placed order) but decided against it after reading all the negative press. I typically try to filter negative reviews - however I simply could not fathom the thought of paying nearly $1000 (US) for a device that may have a number of bugs. Even those that try to be positive about the device appear irrational IMHO.

While the Sony was an excellent purchase for me (I've read 3 books and a couple of small PDF's) - I am now looking at purchasing a decent Tablet PC for the number of Technical PDF's and magazines that I read on a regular basis. I really want a stable E-Ink device that could simply do it all (PDF, Mobi, Amazon, Magazines, personal notes etc.) with a large screen - but to my knowledge - that device does not exist just yet.

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 03-22-2009, 09:11 PM   #4
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I'm going to respond to just those readers that I have some personal knowledge of. I own both Kindle (K1) and Sony (505) readers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Djehuty View Post
Maybe I'm making too much of the various drawbacks, but I'm actually beginning to regret sending my Kindle back -- even though I wouldn't be able to use it after I move to Canada!
I beg to differ. I used my Kindle in Toronto and it worked very well. I even bought a book from Amazon while I was in Toronto, just to demonstrate to a friend how it works. Yes, the Whispernet function doesn't work in Canada -- at least for now -- but I don't use my reader for Internet access, so that doesn't matter. I don't rely on Kindle for newspaper or blog subscriptions, so the only thing you'd give up without the Whispernet access is the free samples.

Keep your current Amazon account and fund it with gift cards. Open a new account with your Canadian address, e-mail, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Djehuty View Post
Kindle - Pro: Looks nice, works well, large selection through Amazon. Con: Forever limited to Amazon only, very poor PDF support, incompatible with Canada.
See my earlier comment about using the Kindle in Canada. I also don't agree that the Kindle is forever limited to Amazon only. I've bought 25 or more books from Baen and a good dozen from Fictionwise and have enjoyed reading them on the Kindle. PDF support is inadequate on all readers except the large-screen version of the iLiad -- unless the PDF is created specifically for the small screen used by readers. (Feedbooks creates custom PDF files for the Sony and other readers, for example.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Djehuty View Post
Sony PRS-505 - Pro: Looks good, good screen, good PDF support, good tech and customer support, good warranty (which none of the others seem to have). Con: No Mobipocket support, therefore only a rather small selection of current books available.
Lack of Mobipocket support does mean that there are fewer stores where you can buy books for the Sony reader -- but the addition of ePub support seems to be a good step forward. And, as I was browsing through the Sony store and comparing to Amazon, every book that I was interested in appeared in both stores. The per book price tended to be about $2 lower at Amazon, but Sony had these cool "bundles" of 3-7 books and the price for the bundle was less than the sum of the book prices at Amazon.



I think that no matter which reader you get, you'll find it a welcome addition. You'll adjust to whichever store carries books in a format you can use with your reader. No reader is perfect. No store is perfect. At this point, some are just less flawed than others.
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sthorpe
I thought about the Irex Digital Reader (actually had placed order) but decided against it after reading all the negative press. I typically try to filter negative reviews - however I simply could not fathom the thought of paying nearly $1000 (US) for a device that may have a number of bugs.
Precisely my reasoning. If I pay that much, I expect the thing to work perfectly, all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elsi
I used my Kindle in Toronto and it worked very well. I even bought a book from Amazon while I was in Toronto, just to demonstrate to a friend how it works. Yes, the Whispernet function doesn't work in Canada -- at least for now -- but I don't use my reader for Internet access, so that doesn't matter. I don't rely on Kindle for newspaper or blog subscriptions, so the only thing you'd give up without the Whispernet access is the free samples.
Unfortunately, according to an Amazon customer service agent, I'd need to maintain a US credit card with a US billing address in order to buy Kindle books. And it's possible they'd begin checking my IP against that. Otherwise, the Kindle would still function in the sense that I could turn it on and read content already downloaded, but I would not be allowed to purchase any additional books for it.

Quote:
I think that no matter which reader you get, you'll find it a welcome addition. You'll adjust to whichever store carries books in a format you can use with your reader. No reader is perfect. No store is perfect. At this point, some are just less flawed than others.
Agreed, but that just leads me back to the question of which are less flawed.
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sthorpe View Post

I thought about the Irex Digital Reader (actually had placed order) but decided against it after reading all the negative press.

I really want a stable E-Ink device that could simply do it all (PDF, Mobi, Amazon, Magazines, personal notes etc.) with a large screen - but to my knowledge - that device does not exist just yet.

Good luck with your quest.
I seem to be in the same boat! I wanted an Illiad, but was worried about support, finally deciding on a Sony Reader, but still hunting for the perfect device.... .
If you find one, please let me know, because that is EXACTLY what I am looking for too. Bigger screen, on screen note taking function, to read magazines and newspapers comfortably, good support, ability to read all file types.

I think, (HOPE) some very nice devices will be here in the near future.
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:44 AM   #7
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If your goal is reading text material, the four or sixteen shades of gray point makes no practical difference between the units. All of them now utilize the latest e-ink screens that are far better than the prior generation.

PDF rendering is still a hit-or-miss thing in a reader that has a small screen. If the document is setup to allow reflow (and almost everything I have in PDF is not set that way) then it will attempt to render a full page on each screen. If the PDF was designed for a letter or A4 sized page, all I will see are a few horizontal lines where the text should be. Zooming on a page is just a stop-gap measure and as said above, you have to rezoom each page. The new Sony Digital Editions will work fine on the 505, but there are very few of those released.

Sjort of converting your PDFs to another format you might want to consider a device like the Asus EEE or perhaps even better is the Acer equivalent that runs Windows and has a 3-hour battery life. These will allow you to view PDFs and read Mobipocket books. The screen is a color LCD and around here they sell for ~$299 ($317.98 including state sales tax.)
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Old 03-23-2009, 01:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elsi View Post
I think that no matter which reader you get, you'll find it a welcome addition. You'll adjust to whichever store carries books in a format you can use with your reader. No reader is perfect. No store is perfect. At this point, some are just less flawed than others.

I think that's really the best advice right there.

If you like and want an ereader, there are a lot of choices, but there really are no losing choices and I think you'll be happy with whatever you decide to go with. All of them are deficient right now, but all of them are also fantastic in their own way.

My suggestion at this point is to stop looking at devices, and start looking at stores that are available to you in Canada. See what formats they offer, figure out what format most of the books you want to read are. That's going to help narrow it down there. Then think about actually reading and using the device and what options you think you'll actually use. Figuring out what's practical, what's nice to have, and what's not actually ever going to be used.

One thing to think about the kindle; if Amazon releases the kindle in Canada, there's a good chance it's going to have different hardware for accessing whatever the version of whispernet will be there. You might want to hold off on that model until there's a Canadian release.
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:37 AM   #9
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Actually, I expect Canada to be one of the first places outside the US that will get the Kindle purely because they won't need different hardware. The only reason whispernet doesn't work in Canada is because it's locked down for no roaming because Sprint doesn't offer service there directly.

However Bell Mobility and Telus both have nationwide CDMA networks that are fully compatible with the Kindle hardware, so it would be easy enough for Amazon to find a Canadian partner if they desired.

It's nothing like going to Europe or most of Asia where they will need different hardware because they're dealing with GSM-only networks. Canada has CDMA and the same frequencies as the US.
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemurion View Post
Canada has CDMA and the same frequencies as the US.
As you say, it isn't the lack of network access that is preventing Amazon from selling in Canada. It is probably the lack of ebook rights. For Amazon to sell to Canada they would have to mark each Kindle ebook US-only or US+Canada. Canadians with Kindles would then be in the same bind as Sony PRS owners, they can see ebooks they want to buy buy in the store but they can't do so because they are US-only. Amazon may actually be in a better position to sell in Canada once they have UK Kindles, because then some US and some UK ebooks would be "legal" in Canada. However, I don't know if the Canadian market is large enough for the hassle involved in selling ebooks there for a company the size of Amazon.
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Djehuty View Post
Unfortunately, according to an Amazon customer service agent, I'd need to maintain a US credit card with a US billing address in order to buy Kindle books.
We already know that is NOT true. Believe it or not there are still people in this world that don't use or have a credit card. Can't you buy Amazon gift cards at the store with cash?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Djehuty View Post
And it's possible they'd begin checking my IP against that.
So use a proxy server that is in the US. How could they do this. Perhaps someone that bought a kindle is on an extended overseas assignment. This would apply to much of our US millatary.

BOb
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
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As you say, it isn't the lack of network access that is preventing Amazon from selling in Canada. It is probably the lack of ebook rights. For Amazon to sell to Canada they would have to mark each Kindle ebook US-only or US+Canada. Canadians with Kindles would then be in the same bind as Sony PRS owners, they can see ebooks they want to buy buy in the store but they can't do so because they are US-only. Amazon may actually be in a better position to sell in Canada once they have UK Kindles, because then some US and some UK ebooks would be "legal" in Canada. However, I don't know if the Canadian market is large enough for the hassle involved in selling ebooks there for a company the size of Amazon.
Actually the Canadian market probably is large enough - Canadians buy significantly more books on a per-Capita basis than Americans. (When I managed a bookstore in Victoria I saw numbers that said the Canadian book market was 20-25% of the US market on 10% of the population).

They also already have Amazon.ca set up so they wouldn't need a complicated flagging system - just run a Canadian Kindle store and limit access to people with Canadian cards on file and only put books they can sell in Canada in the Cindle store.
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:27 PM   #13
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I currently own a Sony PRS-500, A Bookeen Cybook Gen3, an EZ Reader (Hanlin V3 family) and an Amazon Kindle 1. Here's my take on them;
  1. No matter which of the 6" screens you get, PDF will be mediocre at best.
  2. No matter which MFG. you purchase from, they all have short comings so pick the one you can best live with.
  3. There is no place you can go to "just buy any book you want" that will work on any particular reader without some degree of converting.
  4. Sony no longer supports the PRS-500 as far as updates are concerned so the early adopters are left hanging. Their books are limited but they have recently teamed with Google so this should improve dramatically.
  5. Amazon wants to completly control what ebooks you can purchase and read. They have a large supply of ebooks if you want general fiction.
  6. Bookeen Cybook is difficult to get in touch for support but has a good firmware package. Good Mobipocket format support, thus several good places for ebooks.
  7. The Hanlin V3 family ( aka BeBook, EZ Reader, Ibook) has, IMHO, the best HW and the firmware is interchangable throughout that family & also there is the open sourc firmware for it called OpenInkPot which is, IMO, outstanding making this combination (i.e. Hanlin V3 family plus OpenInkPot firmware) the best choice. Fortunately OpenInkPot supports many popular formats. Unfortunately OpenInkPot does not support any DRM. For me this is OK since I only have books without DRM.
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Old 03-23-2009, 01:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Djehuty
Unfortunately, according to an Amazon customer service agent, I'd need to maintain a US credit card with a US billing address in order to buy Kindle books.
We already know that is NOT true. Believe it or not there are still people in this world that don't use or have a credit card. Can't you buy Amazon gift cards at the store with cash?
Might I ask how you know this is not true? Are there Kindle owners on this forum who live in Canada, and have no trouble buying new books without a US credit card and all the rest of that rigmarole?

As for gift cards, they're only available at certain stores in the US, according to Amazon. So it's really the same problem, however I approach it: Amazon does not want me to buy Kindle books after I move to Canada, and I'd have to find a way to sneak around their restrictions in order to do so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slayda
The Hanlin V3 family ( aka BeBook, EZ Reader, Ibook) has, IMHO, the best HW and the firmware is interchangable throughout that family & also there is the open sourc firmware for it called OpenInkPot which is, IMO, outstanding making this combination (i.e. Hanlin V3 family plus OpenInkPot firmware) the best choice. Fortunately OpenInkPot supports many popular formats. Unfortunately OpenInkPot does not support any DRM. For me this is OK since I only have books without DRM.
If the reader is top-notch with the firmware that does not allow DRM, does that mean it's not so good with the default DRM-enabled firmware? I ask because I've read a number of accounts of Hanlin readers freezing, rebooting, and so forth.
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Old 03-23-2009, 02:53 PM   #15
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One thing that you should know is that while you can't get a Kindle with it - you can get an Amazon.com account (separate from an Amazon.ca account) using a Canadian credit card and use it to buy books etc. You can then use that account to buy Amazon.com gift certificates and email them to another Amazon.com account.

You don't get one-click on your Kindle purchases (that does need a US card) but you do get access to the Kindle store.
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