With the popularity of e-books, the need for ebook readers for people on the go has dramatically increased in the last 5 years or so.
As somebody who both writes and reads e-books on a regular basis, I can say that I personally went head-to-head with this very issue. I’ll tell you what my solution was, and also what your other options are when it comes to finding an ebook reader that meets your needs.
Contrary to what some people believe, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a device to read your e-books.
In fact, you may already have one and not even know it!
So, that being said, here are the many options for e-book readers:
1. Purchase a used Pocket PC for $50 or so.
That’s what I did. Since I could not justify the cost of hundreds of dollars for a Kindle or a Sony ebook reader, I found a used Pocket PC on eBay.
Since all I was really looking for was a device that I could save my PDF ebooks to and take them with me to work or appointments, a Pocket PC and AnyView software worked perfectly for me. That way, I could keep up with all of the books that I review.
Now I have to say that storage is sometimes a problem. I can really only store about 10 or 15 books at a time on my Pocket PC. Realistically though, I can keep my ebooks on CDs and then just download the ones I want to read when I want to read them.
I don’t care about having a lot of storage, although I know I can add storage to my Pocket PC at any time, which is a plus.
That’s the only thing I use my Pocket PC for too — just for reading e-books. I can read books in PDF format, Word format, and Microsoft Reader format which is about all you need these days.
2. Use your cell phone to read e-books.
I’ll bet you never thought of that one, huh? I sure hadn’t until I saw one of my friends reading an ebook on a cell phone while on the bus.
Mobipocket is one of the software programs that you can download to your computer. Then, just be sure that your cell phone is hooked up to your computer and it will download it there as well. After that, you can just transfer any mobipocket e-books that you purchase directly from your computer to your cell phone, or directly to your cell phone via an Internet connection (which most cell phones have these days).
Most ebook retailers offer a mobipocket option. But even if they don’t, just look at Fiction Wise and you’re bound to find what you’re looking for!
3. The Nokia N800 Internet Pad also works as an ebook reader.
This is a Linux device, but it can be hooked up to your Windows XP computer with a USB cable for purposes of downloading e-books to it.
I really like this option. Quite honestly, now that I’ve seen it, I think when my Pocket PC wears out, this is what I’ll be getting next.
The Nokia N800 connects to the Internet via WiFi, or with your cell phone via Bluetooth. It comes pre-loaded with the software to read PDFs and HTML ebooks right off the bat.
If you want even more ebook formats, all you have to do is install the FBReader software and you’ll be able to read ebooks in TXT, palmdoc, CHM, fb 2.1, RTF, zTxt, OEB, OpenReader, and even mobipocket — as long as it’s not encrypted.
Since I purchase 99.9% of my ebooks in PDF format, I wouldn’t even have to worry about downloading the extra software. And if you’re concerned about hooking up a Linux device to your Windows operating system, you could easily download your ebooks to and online storage space, and then pick them up that way via the Internet using your WiFi or bluetooth connection.
You can purchase a used Nokia N800 for around $150 on eBay.
4. The ebookwise 1150 Ebook Reader may work for some.
It’s a relatively low cost e-book reader at $135.95 not including shipping. Plus, it can read a few different formats such as text, rich text format, Word documents, HTML documents and Rocket e-book editions from the now discontinued Rocket e-book reader. It also reads any books specially formatted for the ebookwise reader that you can purchase from the ebookwise store.
The ebookwise 1150 weighs about a pound and is about the size of a paperback book. The screen is gray scale only (no color) and it can only hold about 100 e-books at a time, depending on their length. One up-side is that you can read for about 15 hours before needing to recharge it!
Unfortunately, the fact that it does not read PDF ebooks makes this an ebook reader that I would not consider at this time. Add to that the fact that it can only hold a limited number of e-books, plus it’s relatively heavy compared to other ebook readers on the market, and this is clearly not my top choice as far as ebook readers go.
5. The Sony Reader PRS-700 is similar to Amazon’s Kindle 1 reader.
It came out in 2008 and can read PDF ebooks, e-pub format, Word documents, and Sony’s own format BBeB or Broadband ebook.
The Sony Reader only weighs 10 ounces and is .04 inches thick, making it very thin and lightweight. It also has a 6-inch reading screen. Another very cool feature is that battery power can last up to 2 weeks without needing to be recharged. The Sony Reader can hold up to 350 ebooks — which isn’t bad.
The downside is the Sony Reader is just as expensive as Amazon’s Kindle 2. One thing to keep in mind though, is the fact that the earlier version of this device (the Sony Reader PRS500) only costs about $200 new, and you can probably find it even cheaper on eBay. Plus the Sony Reader PRS-500 has most of the same features as the Sony Reader PRS-700.
6. Hanlin V3 eReader is made by Jinke, a company out of Japan.
This is a device that is especially made to read documents. It supports most e-book formats including PDF, mobipocket, e-pub, and even HTML. Like the Nokia N800, the Hanlin V3 runs on a Linux OS.
It can hold a charge for up to a month, making the Hanlin V3 the clear winner in the battery department — when compared to other ebook readers. You can also add 4GB of memory via an SD card, and the device itself has about 512 MB of internal memory even without the added 4GB.
The Hanlin V3 ebook reader is rather expensive at $300, but still does not cost as much as Amazon’s Kindle 2.
7. iRex iliad Book Edition is a top of the line ebook reader.
The iRex Iliad is a very nice ebook reader, but it’s also very expensive — priced anywhere from $600 and up.
The screen is a huge 8.1 inches, has WiFi, USB, and ethernet connectivity, supports PDF, mobipocket, HTML and text formats, and is able store thousands of documents. It weighs 15.8 ounces.
Also, you can read up to 15 hours without having to recharge the battery on the iRex Iliad Book Edition.
All in all, it has some very nice features. But, quite frankly, none of those features is so great that I’d be willing to pay that price for it.
Oh, and as with all the ebook readers that are made solely for the purpose of reading e-books, this one also has no color, it’s all gray scale.
What About Amazon’s Kindle Ebook Reader?
As mentioned in my earlier review of the Amazon Kindle 2, it costs $359, and it holds up to 1500 ebooks. It is also lightweight at 10.2 ounces, and 1/3 of an inch thick. The Kindle 2 also boasts a longer battery life; they say you can read for days without needing to recharge it.
The downsides are that you cannot change the battery (so when it dies, it dies), and you cannot add extra memory to the Kindle 2.
If you like the idea of the Kindle then I suggest trying purchasing a used Kindle 1, because you can add memory and you can swap out the battery — both of which make the Kindle 1 a better choice than the Kindle 2, in my opinion.
In addition, you can get a used Kindle 1 on e-Bay for about $270 — which is still a little pricey, but it beats the $359 price tag on the Kindle 2 any day!
Those are some of the most popular options available to those looking for an e-book reader today.
Personally, I don’t think I could bring myself to buy a device that was solely for reading e-books only, particularly given the cost of most of these devices. I’m happier with something that is multi-function such as the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, or a Pocket PC.
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