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Old 08-13-2010, 05:50 PM   #1
WantToBuy
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Which eReader Features are key??

Hi everyone,

I am in the market for an eReader, but want to make sure I get the right one. All of the eReaders have different features (screen size, marketplace, file format support, connectivity, annotation, organization scheme, sharing, and other SW features) they support, but which are the most important ones that should drive the decision? Which features were the selling points for you when you bought yours?

Thanks so much for your advice and experience!
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:07 PM   #2
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I made a blog post a while back about this. The main parts:

Issues to consider:
  • e-Ink vs LCD screen (e-ink looks like paper but is slower, and black&white only; LCD can have color, but eats battery life; non-backlit LCD screens are much cheaper, but B&W only.)
  • Wifi or not
  • Allows annotations or not
  • Built-in dictionary or not
  • Filetype support (ebooks come in a handful of popular, easy-to-find formats, and several dozen obscure ones. And some readers support user docs in Word or RTF or TXT format; some don't.)
  • PDF support: reflow, zoom, something else
  • DRM support (Digital Rights Management, software that locks your ebook to a particular device)
  • folder support (do the files show up in folders, like on a computer, or does the managing software sort them in some other way?)
  • Firmware glitchiness/customer support
  • Stylus vs Keyboard, if it has an input option
  • Screen size: 5", 6" (which is most common), 8"+. (Larger costs more. A lot more.)
  • Battery life
  • SD Card support
  • Open-source firmware options--ability to play sudoku, have a clock, change fonts onscreen, etc.
  • Price ($150-500 mainly, and it goes up from there. We're still waiting on the under $100 basic ebook reader.)
Issues that some people care about, but I never have:
  • Acessories (covers, cases, AC adapter, headphones)
  • MP3 ability (theoretically for audiobooks)
  • Color options (Kindle is white only. Sony Readers come in about 4 colors. Astak readers have 6. Some brands have 2 or 3.)
  • Dedicated online bookstore
  • Probably several other things I don't think of because I don't care about them *and* they don't get discussed much. (While I don't personally care about wifi, I know it's important to a lot of people because it gets mentioned. If battery size is important to anyone, I haven't noticed.)
Issues that we wish were relevant, but aren't:
  • Warranty details (they range from "bad" to "useless")
  • Repair options (ditto)
  • Manuals & info about any uses other than "click here to pay for & install your book on the device" (All the user manuals are lousy.)
  • Ergonomics (there was a great ergonomic ebook reader 10 years ago. Still available. It reads two very obscure filetypes and weighs a pound and a half. Since then, everything's small and flat and about equally badly designed.)
  • User-adjustable software (it's not)
  • User interface (they range from "mediocre" to "awful;" apparently, it didn't occur to any of the sofware designers that if you could put 1500 ebooks on a card, you'd want a way to sort them other than alphabetically.)
  • Really *good* PDF support. (Not going to happen, ever; PDF was created as a print-ready format, and they're made in too many different ways for any viewer to ever be able to display them all well.)
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:13 PM   #3
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"Ergonomics (there was a great ergonomic ebook reader 10 years ago. Still available. It reads two very obscure filetypes and weighs a pound and a half. Since then, everything's small and flat and about equally badly designed.)"

I am curios as to what this is..?
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:39 PM   #4
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Welcome WantToBuy!

I recommend that you get a device with a processor that turns the pages very quickly.

The answer to your question depends on what you want to use the device for. For example, some people find a foreign language dictionary to be very important, while others have no use for it.

I recommend that you not make a decision without giving some consideration to the jetBook Lite, which is almost a year old and was on sale last week for $69.99. I'm still quite content with mine. It has the reflective TFT screen, which a number of us consider superior to the eInk vizplex screen.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:50 PM   #5
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Welcome!

Honestly, which features are key is different for every person. Example, some of the items in Elfwreck's "Issues to Consider" would go in my "Couldn't Care Less" category.

I think to some extent what you care about is based on what type of reader you are. Fiction or Non-fiction? Fluff or Technical? If you are reading a non-fiction research or programming type book, you may want the ability to highlight, annotate, etc. whereas if you are reading the latest mystery best seller, that doesn't matter.

So key for me are:
formats supported
DRM (related to format) - how hard to get around it; more tied into where can I purchase books from
e-ink (I spend too much time in front of LCD screens as is)
price
size/ergonomics

Not important to me
wifi (I just transfer everything via USB from my PC with Calibre)
keyboard/stylus/ability to add notes
dictionary
PDF support
SD card support (I usually don't keep that many books at a time on my reader)
accessible battery (just because the company says it's not user replaceable doesn't mean it isn't)
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MangaEbooker View Post
"Ergonomics (there was a great ergonomic ebook reader 10 years ago. Still available. It reads two very obscure filetypes and weighs a pound and a half. Since then, everything's small and flat and about equally badly designed.)"

I am curios as to what this is..?
The ebookwise/RocketEbook (same hardware; different software) is comfortable in the hand & easy to use; its biggest drawbacks are (1) 10+ year old battery tech = weighs more than a pound and (2) 10+ year old computer tech = 64mb max. The fact that it only reads a couple of filetypes is also annoying, but that's workable. Most people who have them, love them.

I really am surprised none of the e-ink screen companies have made a case that mimics the ebookwise.
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Old 08-13-2010, 08:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
The ebookwise/RocketEbook (same hardware; different software) is comfortable in the hand & easy to use; its biggest drawbacks are (1) 10+ year old battery tech = weighs more than a pound and (2) 10+ year old computer tech = 64mb max. The fact that it only reads a couple of filetypes is also annoying, but that's workable. Most people who have them, love them.

I really am surprised none of the e-ink screen companies have made a case that mimics the ebookwise.
So this company never updated and came out witha ereader with the same feel I suppose...That is odd. Well at least its cheap, got that on its side.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:10 PM   #8
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If the unit is not comfortable for you to use - size, weight, screen, fonts used, et al - then you will not be enjoying eReading as much as you should/could.

My wife enjoys her Kindle2. But if *I* had Internet connectivity, I *know* I would find myself messing 'round with it - INSTEAD of reading. So, I bought a Kobo - and am throughly enjoying it.

There's a lot of features available for under $200 today. Stick with one of the major brands - who have support and should be around for a while. Refine a little what, exactly, you might be reading on such a device. And keep asking questions.

But do yourself a favor - don't micro-manage this to death. In that time you could have been reading eBooks!
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Old 08-13-2010, 11:39 PM   #9
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for me I bought the nook for it's

color LCD navigation screen with book cover flow
epub
wireless capabilities
BN platform
screen contrast
styling
replacable battery
expandable memory w/micro sd card slot

Last edited by boswd; 08-14-2010 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 08-14-2010, 01:25 AM   #10
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For me, I bought a Kobo for its ...

- not having an unresponsive, battery-eating color LCD navigation screen
- not having wireless connectivity
- Borders platform
- screen contrast
- styling

Dif'rent strokes for dif'rent folks ...

I mean, if you compare on paper the FEATURE SETS and PRICING of the Kindle2 or Nook to, say, a meager Kobo - no on on the planet would ever purchase a Kobo.

But I bought a Kobo not only for what is COULD do, but for what it DOES NOT do.

It gets a little tense and testy as we promote what we like and dislike about our eReaders. And the current price wars add another factor in this equation!
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Old 08-14-2010, 05:29 AM   #11
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Issues that are/Would be important to me:

Screen contrast
Comfortable to read on for long periods
Visibility in direct light
Battery life
Screen size (at least 5'')
Portability/size
Memory(doesnt need to be expandable but I should be able to store at least 200 books on there as a minimum)
File formats supported
Accesibility of books for device
Ease of use

Those would be the main issues for me.

I went for the PRS-300 because it ticked all the boxes I listed above. The only other reader which I may have considered at the time of purchasing was the PRS-505 but it has been discontinued and I prefered the smaller size of the PRS-300.

I've now ordered the kindle 3 to have as a second reader. It doesnt meet all of my specifications but as I already have a reader which does, it doesnt matter now!!
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Old 08-14-2010, 07:21 AM   #12
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As most other folks have mentioned or hinted at, the most important features are based on how you plan to use your reader. (And, after you get into e-readers and e-books, your use may change a bit, too.)

What is it you want to read or store on your reader? Are you going to be buying books? Or preparing your own documents for use on the reader? Or just looking to download all the freebies you can from Gutenberg? (could easily satisfy all your reading requirements for the rest of your life!) Take a look at what formats are available for books you may be interested in and how many sources for the various formats. Also, if you have a library that loans out e-books, what formats do they have?

Don't know where you're at, but you may want to consider what potential geographical limitations you could be up against and what features do or don't complicate that for you. (things like traceability of the 3G network, etc.) I'm also a real book freak - on visits back to the US I normally come home with a suitcase full of books after making a couple of (expensive) passes through the local bookstores. This also rules out 3G for me, as I have no need of making it "too" easy to buy books on a whim.

I also ruled out wifi, mainly for the "distractibility factor." I really enjoy getting "into" my reading and while it might be nice to be able to make jumps to Internet links referenced in the newspapers I download, I think I prefer not to have Internet capabilities in my reader.

I went with a Sony PRS600 - and I really love it. The reflection on the screen is a little annoying at times, but usually easily fixed by adjusting the angle. And I prefer the e-Ink screen, too, as I spend long hours on the computer as it is and find the e-Ink easier on my eyes. But your mileage may vary.
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:15 AM   #13
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I find the PRS600 with its ability to high light names and search back through the book very useful when reading murder/mystery type fiction with lots of characters. I am very keen on P D James but there sre so many possible suspects to keep track of.
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:32 AM   #14
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For me, international support is a major factor. I realize for many people it wouldn't be.
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Old 08-14-2010, 09:55 PM   #15
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Thanks everyone! This is has been very useful!

I want to use it for reading books (fiction mostly) but also for reading magazines or perhaps newspapers. I'm thinking it would be great to read my morning paper on it and some other magazines I like when I just have a few minutes here and there. That may push me to LCD screens, but I don't want to spend $500+ on an iPad.

Thanks for all your advice so far!
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