Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: held captive on long island
Device: Cybook, rocketbook, rb1100, palms, nook, iPhone/iTouch, Jetbook lite
You have asked the 20 million dollar question. The best reader was the rocket, played with mac and windows, but it was too good and the people who originally made it went belly up when they could not make enough money. You see they wanted to keep everyone only buying books from them. Nice but I have yet to find a single book store to supply me all the paper books I want to read and had for years used up to 4 on a regular basis in the US and 2 down under. I read about 3 books a week.
What I have found is that it is so very important that the reader is comfortable to use. Some are only made to be used by right handed people. The Cybook is one such. The new reader sold by fictionwise.com is the same reader but uses eReader instead of Mobipocket as the format. If you are a righty only, want an eInk reader that weighs almost nothing, then the cybook or the new repurposed one sold by fictionwise.com. The Nook appears to be for both lefties and righties and some of the others appear to have the page changer more in the middle and looks like it could be easy to use by both. Also the pressure needed to activate the page turning is important. Just a touch is perfect unless it is too easy and a misplaced touch gets you a page turned when you didn't mean to.
Second most important thing is ease of getting reading material onto the device. Most accept the pdf thingy easily, but just make sure. Most have software to aid in this or have software available to aid in this. It is generally windows only though. If you do like I do and buy your ebooks already encoded then it is usually "buy on computer, drag books to card or reader icon, put card back in book or disengage reader from machine. Or something similar up to and including wifi, bluetooth and phone. Super easy on a mac, never done it on a windows machine. However I am sure you would have no problems getting the material on the reader.
Third, most important to me probably not to you, where you get your commercial ebooks. I won't buy a "you have to buy all your secure ebooks from me because I have the only store that sells them" type of reader. First I have never known a bookstore to have all the books I want to read. Right now I purchase me ebooks from 3 main ebook e-store plus a couple more speciality places outside the US. I love fictionwise.com and do most of my purchases there, however Webscriptions sells its many authors at 5 to 6 bucks an ebook. This leaves out the Sony reader, however nice it is to use. It does include all those that use eReader and Mobipocket, but not in my eyes the Kindle which is a nonsecure mobipocket reader.
Fourth. eInk readers with the glass casing/screen is a bit fragile. You can get insurance, I have one that has been guarded and is now a couple of years old and no problems with it, and I hope to keep it that way. There are a few that now are going to use plastic instead of glass. I believe the nook is one, don't know if this will make it actually more rugged, but I plan on guarding it as I have the cybook.
Now for your last question. How many grays do you need. Really, none, if all you are going to do is read, letters black, page white. It is the graphics and how much clarity you want when you look at them is where the gray scale is required. I could give a toss as to how good the graphics are. I am in it for the black letters.
What might drive you up a wall is the speed of page changing, or lack there of. I have gotten so that I am not slowed down too much on the cybook. It takes a while to train the finger/thumb to hit that key several words before the actual change in needed. Each reader is slightly different. Also different is how they keep your book titles available, how they allow you to navigate around the book and around the reader. I rather liked the Sony way but refuse to be stuck buying from a company store, been there done that, won't do it again. Remember I don't think any eInk machine is a speed demon, especially those in your price area. Some will make more sense to your mind than others. Just the way humans are made.
I have watched the Nook movie and either the man was an idiot or he was trying to make it look difficult. I saw a few short cuts he didn't use to navigate, could be because I am female, but I am voting that he was an idiot. The navigation looked easy to me, but then it may be the straw that broke the camel's back to someone else. I will know in a week or two.
So, let your fingers do the walking in the computer, find out where you can lay hands on the various readers and go and fondle it. Nothing like actually seeing it and figuring out if you will put up with its foibles, and hopefully they will not drive you up a wall. Plenty of us have more than one reader, see if there are reader users located in your general area and meet somewhere so you can see it in person. Lastly, see who has the best return system and buy, try and return.
I have rb, rockets, cybook, soon a nook, palm devices, iphone, and itouch, all give you the abilities to read your own ebooks. Good luck on your choice, good reading and remember there is always another reader coming on down the line. Everyone has a problem except the rocket unless you count I cannot get secure ebooks for it. Okay it has a little problem, but Baen books doesn't do secure ebooks and does have a stable of authors I love.
So if you can live without an eInk reader and are willing to continue to wait for perfection, try a Rocket or Rb1100. Usually cheap, found on ebay or on yahoo lists for same. They will do all those pdf and other books you are currently fond of. You can read it without an addition of outside lighting and it runs for hours and can store oodles and a half on the rb or even the ebookwise (very cheap on the website nowdays).