A while ago, I started to think that buying books for reading wasn’t a good idea. Those poor trees probably didn’t like me that much and books take up a lot of space. So I thought, why not buy a e-book reader? Of course, you don’t buy something without first reading a bit about it. So I decided to do what I would call a “tech trial”: check online what people say, check out the different model features, and buy one to try to see if you like it.
While researching e-book readers I found three main “models”: The Kobo, the Kindle from Amazon and the Sony e-reader (doesn’t seems to have a fashionable name). I looked around a bit to see what each of them supported and what I needed out of a e-book reader. First, let’s talk a bit about what I needed. I mostly read when I’m on my stationary bike. The model I have leaves my hands free and 30 minutes of stationary bike is boring, so I read books. While my hands are free, I don’t have support under them either, so I can’t hold heavy objects. So anything I’m holding needs to be light and not too bulky. So let’s see what the 3 different readers feature:
The Kindle was my first choice. It is probably the most well-known and it packs a lot of features as well. Like a dictionary, text-to-speech, pdf format, a mini keyboard and Wi-Fi/3G wireless support. Ok, I don’t really need a dictionary. I don’t use text-to-speech and, well, Wi-Fi/3G is only good to buy books and download things. I can do the same thing with my computer and the little cable that come with the device. The keyboard takes up a lot of space and is only useful when doing searches. It also has a big limitation: it doesn’t support the epub format. This is the standard for ebooks and electronic documents. Especially the ones that can be “rented” from a library. Also, the Kindle memory isn’t expandable (not that I think I will ever have more than 3,500 books). The Kindle was removed from my buy list, because of the lack of epub support and also because I found out about the readers.
The Sony supports the epub format. Yeah! It also has a dictionary, a touch screen and it’s made of aluminum. Apparently, it also supports mp3, but I can’t find any information on that on the official website and I already have something to listen to mp3s. This reader family also happen to be the most expensive. It also has the shortest battery life from all the comparison charts I have seen. I don’t know much about it either; it doesn’t seems to be as popular as the Kindle, despite supporting a lot more file formats and having a touch screen.
The Kobo doesn’t seem to have as many features as the other models. It doesn’t have a dictionary or a keyboard. The older model doesn’t have a touch screen, it uses a D-pad to navigate. The newer Kobo readers do have a touch screen though. Both old and new have Wi-Fi support. Now, though, the Kobo is the e-reader that supports the largest number of file formats: epub, txt, rtf, pdf, html, jpeg, etc. It’s also the least expensive among the three and it supports memory expansion through SD card. The new model add lots more features as well.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to a reader. Kobo offers application to read e-books on smartphones as well as tablet PC and iPad devices. While I don’t own a cellphone, the iPad (or a device similar) might have been an interesting purchase. First, these devices support colors, while the e-book readers above are all using grayscale to display information. They also have a lot more features, being computers. They are also a lot more expensive. I did think about buying a tablet PC, but one of my co-workers bought one (to read comic books) and I got to play bit with it. While they do have lots of features, they are also a lot more heavy. Too heavy for the usage I want to make of my reader.
So after all the comparing, I bought a (old) Kobo as a “tech trial.” One month later, the new one was released, duh. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it and I wanted something that supported a lot of file formats, that was light and had a rather good battery life in case I go in vacation and can’t find an USB port to recharge the battery (I don’t always bring a laptop with me). After that came the, “Let’s buy a book.” Well Kobo has a nice selection on their website and with large support of files, I’m not limited. Also, the Kobo I bought had 100 public domain books (all the classics). I’m reading Dracula right now. In conclusion, the Kobo does the job and it’s actually lighter than holding a real book and it doesn’t take up a lot of space either. Navigation works well with the D-pad and it was easy to get used to.
Kobo has a nice “compare” table on their website, much more complete than the one found on the Sony website. Maybe other people will be able to find their perfect e-book reader and help me save trees.