Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Elderly prof ISO a sexy E-reader

People, I need help. usually when I travel I pack a boatload of books that brutally weigh me down. For example, on our trip to Brazil last summer, Mrs. Angus and I brought 12 books.

So I guess that makes me a candidate for an e-reader.

But, the marketplace is pretty confusing to me. Kindle? Kindle DX? iPad? Kindle for iPad? Nook?

Can you guys break it down for me and help me out?

Are there extra costs beyond the machine and the book downloads, like data transfer costs / contracts? How much worse is the iPad screen for reading than the Kindle's? What is battery life like? How rugged are these products?




Chris said...

The Kindle has awesome battery life (I can easily get a week or two out of mine if I turn wireless off) and is easy to read in direct sunlight.

The difference between the DX and non-DX is size - the DX is bigger.
The Kindle has no fees - wireless is a bundled cost - with the books being cheaper than physical books.

The downside is that Kindle is just an e-reader. If you want to do more then iPad is the best choice. It has monthly wireless access charges if you get the 3G model, has shorter battery life and is difficult to read in sunlight.

There is also the Nook (Barnes & Noble) but I don't have any experience with it.

zimaroll said...

This consumer reports youtube bit doesn't answer all of your questions, but it is a start...

kb said...

another start


Shawn said...

if you really really only want it for reading, the kindle is better. however, you'll find that it doesn't do a stellar job with pdfs (papers, and I know you read a lot of 'em), particularly the graphs. the dx is worth the extra money if you'll be reading a lot of pdfs (and all you wanna do is read), but it's ~$500, so at that point I'd rather get an ipad.

the ipad screen isn't going to be as good as a kindle screen for reading, but if you have no problem reading on a computer screen to begin with, it shouldn't be an issue for you. Chris mentioned the battery life on the kindle, which really is kick-ass: it lasts so long because the only time the device uses battery is when you turn a page--once the e-ink screen has the image, it doesn't need any juice to maintain it--sorta like an etch-a-sketch.

the nook is nominally cooler, and its book-lending feature is pretty slick, but I have yet to see anyone with one, and there's a b&n right down the street from me that I study in about 4x/week. I see people checking them out at the demonstration kiosk, but haven't seen anyone with one. so, if nobody has one, you'll be lending with nobody. not cool.

an option that is not *quite* yet released, and you didn't mention, is the plastic logic QUE. It's slated to ship on june 24, and really is FAR superior to the rest of the e-ink readers...but I'm not sure it's worth its pricetag: 650 w/o 3g, 800 w/ 3g. It is aimed at business users, has a 10.5" screen that's touch-sensitive (you can annotate documents with your finger or a stylus), and can display and edit excel and word documents, as well as access b&n's bookstore and displaying pdfs perfectly.

no contracts with any of them, though if you get an ipad with 3g you have the option of using the 3g to download data on a month-to-month contract (two levels here in the US, 250mb for $15/month or unlimited data for $30, and if you get the $15, but then realize you need more, you can bump up to the 30 w/o being double-charged). use 3g when you want, and don't be charged for it if you don't (apart form the extra up-front cost of a 3g ipad).

IMO, though being a nominally less easy-to-read screen than the kindle/other e-ink machines, the iPad FAR outweighs them in functionality. an easy 10-hour battery life is pretty darn good, and access to netflix on the machine is absolutely awesome. so long as you have wifi, you get access to all the streaming netflix offers (also accessible via 3g, but at slightly lower quality).

I was very excited about e-readers for reading papers, but have been underwhelmed with their pdf support, so I suggest you pick up an ipad, probably at least the 32gb, and decide if you want 3g (note: 3g also has gps included, which does come in handy). I think the extra $130 is worth it for access to the 3g when you want it. Apple's sold 2 million ipads in under 2 months--I was skeptical at first, but it does seem to have hotcakeability.

as you mentioned, you can get the kindle app for ipad and buy stuff from the kindle store if it's not available on ipad's ibooks. nook also has an ipad app, and you can likewise lend books to other nook/nook-on-ipad users, so that could be huge.

I could talk about this forever, but you get the gist.

Shawn said...

oh, and you might be interested in the wolfram alpha app. good source for data.

LoneSnark said...

I would never get an ipad. I just got a netbook with a 10 hour battery life for half the money with a bigger screen. I could imagine getting a kindle for book reading, but probably not.