I wrote this article last year for the ARRA newsletter. I’ve updated it to reflect current prices and to remove outdated information.
Many readers considering buying an ebook reader end up trying to decide between the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a quick rundown.
The Kindle is cheap and now you can get it with just WiFi (no 3G) for less than AU$110—with the Australian dollar doing so well—plus shipping. Kindle mainly supports Amazon’s proprietary ebook format. For book buyers, this isn’t necessarily a limitation because there are heaps of ebooks listed on Amazon. But then again, not all these ebooks are available to Australian readers unless you do some tricky things to your Amazon account. The upside of being tied to Amazon is that your ebook library is synchronised across all the devices you use to read them–PC, Mac, Kindle, iPad or smartphone. The Kindle can also read PDFs and there are ways to convert ebooks and other files into a format that the Kindle can read.
Unlike the Kindle, the Reader doesn’t have any WiFi or 3G capabilities. Sony makes up for it by giving its devices touchscreen capability. You can navigate with your fingers or using a stylus, and you can make hand-written notes as you read. In Australia, the main source of compatible ebooks will be Borders and Angus & Roberston online (who, incidentally, also sell their own ebook device, the Kobo). The Reader supports Adobe Digital Editions, which is essential if you plan to use library e-lending or if you buy books from eHarlequin.
The 5-inch Reader Pocket Edition (PRS-350) retails for $229 and the 6-inch Reader Touch (PRS-650) for $299. The best part is that they come in different colours. Sadly, no purple for romance readers, but the Reader Touch comes in black or red and the Pocket Edition in pink, silver or blue—which may be close enough to purple for some people!
For more information:
Amazon Kindle (available through Amazon) — WiFi only (with ads) | WiFi only | WiFi + 3G (with ads) | WiFi + 3G | DX (larger)
Sony Reader (available through Sony stores and Myer) — Pocket (smaller) | Touch
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the ARRA Newsletter in October 2010.