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back to article E-book readers are a satisfied lot

Owners of e-book readers - well, US-based ones at least - are very happy with their purchases, local market watcher NPD has revealed. We say 'are' because NPD made its announcement this week. But 'were' might be a more 'accurate' term since the research that led to this conclusion was carried out more than two months ago, in …

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Anonymous Coward

question....

The new series of the Gadget Show featured a comparison of the Kindle and Sony readers. The reviwer was disappointed with the screen on the Sony, as it was highly reflective, making it unreadable on the beach he was on because of the reflection of the bright sun. The Kindle had no such problem.

I know nobody has actually got their hands on an iPad, but, does anyone know if the screen on it is like the Kindle or the Sony? Or, neither... in which case, how good will it be in bright sunlight? After all, the perfect place to use an ebook reader is surely on holiday?

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an answer

Seems to me the beach is the last place you want to take an ebook reader if you can possibly help it - the mix of heat, sand, salt water and suntan lotion aren't exactly the best friends of any electronic gadget.

Saying that, the iPad's screen is very shiny and reflective (glass like the iphone) so yes reflections are going to be an issue generally. It's also not e-ink, so most likely harder on the eyes in any case. On the plus side, it's does a lot more than just read ebooks.

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Anonymous Coward

Conversely, what about a Kindle/etc. in bed?

You can't read a Kindle unless you have a light on and they are useless in any no- or low- light situations.

Pros and cons to each.

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Not far wrong there

I guess it's down to the individual, but I pretty much never read anything in direct sunlight because I find the reflection from the paper hurts my eyes after a while.

Consequently anything I take to read on holiday usually stays in the room when sunbathing is the main plan and only comes out in more suitable surroundings (airport lounge, hotel room, bar, etc.), so I find myself completely unperturbed by screens that are difficult to use in direct sunlight.

I bought my wife an eBook reader for going away last year and she actually found it problematic in dimmer places because the background is not white and it has no backlight.

That said, she still loves it, her only real issue is the complete non-availability of some of her favourite authors' work or works only becoming available months after the dead tree version - she hates to wait, so has not yet purchased anything digital; the reader is full of free classics and books that came free with the reader.

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Anonymous Coward

a comment

Seems to me that the beach and outdoors generally are places where such a thing would be extra double plus useful. So, yes, I'll take mine with sand and spray resistance, double the current battery life, 1:sqrt(2) visible display aspect ratio, and djvu support. No wireless or mobile connectivity please, usb and/or memory device is just fine, thank you. AA battery powered would be even better. Now for an even better e-ink screen and nicer price.

Which means wait another decade. Well, we can do that again.

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Gadget show

Issue with the Sony Reader they reviewed is because it's the 600 that has the touch screen. The pocket or the 505 has no such problems and has the same technology as the Kindle. When the 600 came out everybody said that the touch screen had seriously deteriorated the screen quality.

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Which Sony?

I didn't see the gadget show, but I suspect they were using one of the newer Sony's, either the 300 or 600. These are reflective because of the touch screen. The 505 doesn't have this problem at all, and is still the best Sony reader to go for, IMHO

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Linux

Sony 300

I'm not bothered at all for the iPad - too big for what I want/need in an eReader.

I've had a Sony PRS-300 for about 6 weeks now and for what I use it for it's perfect. I know the screen is reflective, but it's not bothered me at all using it on the train in the morning reviewing some docs etc - probably need to try it outdoors (when it's sunny enough).

Saying that power must be a bugger for the iPad - I've not recharged my ebook for well over a couple of weeks now and it's still only at the half way point on the battery.

Downside? PDF's are unreadable if you don't have good eyesight as they are pretty tiny unless you view in landscape.

Oh, and it runs a custom Linux kernel, hence tux ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Crap battery life and eye fatigue

I remember posting on ebook readers in response to the Asus reader, which claimed to have a long battery life, but back lit display.

E-ink displays are very easy on the eye and low on power consumption, so ebook readers can be read for hours without eye fatigue and the battery lasts for weeks of reading without having to re-charge it.

They are a dedicated device, so can be optimized for reading text books in black and white using ambient light. The iPad is a multi function device, so if optimized for book reading, would probably be rubbish for other functions.

The big plus of e-ink is lack of eye strain after hours of reading, when active displays get to this stage, then it will be time to put my ebook reader in the bin.

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Very satisifed with B&N Nook

I've had my Nook for about a month and absolutely love it. The only downside is the use of AT&T's network for wireless access (SUCKS!).

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Would they though?

Would the results really change that much after the announcement of the iPad? Remember this is a survey of eReader *owners* not prospective buyers. I'd imagine opinion will change a lot more in the latter category. At a guess I'd say anyone who has spent any time trying to read anything off an LCD in broad daylight (never mind blazing holiday sunshine) and then moved up to an eInk screen will still be perfectly happy with their purchase. Throughout the comments during the iPad furore it seems to me the only folk slagging off eReaders in comparison are the Mac fanboys.

@AC 16:34 - If you're meaning will it be too shiny to read off in sunshine without straining your eyes then yes I think it probably will be. Besides, I think it's almost certain that the backlit LCD screen will be practically unreadable in those situations anyway - shiny finish or not. No doubt some case companies are already beavering away incorporating flip-up bellows type visors to their iPad designs.

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Still not convinced there's a big enough market for any of these gadgets to gain an edge over printed books. Yet.

I can see that a tablet format may well dominate but it's a bit too early just yet. telcos are making their money from phone tariffs so a mini sim helps them tie keen punters into a new tariff on top of their iPhone bill.

Personally I think they've rushed it out a bit too early. Wonder why?

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Concur

I'm the proud owner of a Sony PRS-505. I have no incentive to purchase an iPad (or any other Apple products for that matter). I imagine that the iPad's biggest dealbreaker is probably lack of E-Ink more than even battery life (though E-Ink and battery life are a package deal).

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iPad

I'm suprised that the iPad is considered a threat to e-readers at all, surely it's all about the e-ink technology that makes it just like reading from paper. Who can honestly say they enjoy reading loads of text from a backlit screen? Yet almost every article I see makes no mention of this - either they think this is no issue or have not even thought about it.

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All about compromise

iPad is a multi function device that can be used as a book reader. It'll be shit on the beach, but it's not really designed for that. The Kindle & Sony are shit for reading in dim light.

Horses for courses. Get the one that works best for you.

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Silver badge

wot he said

While I think the iPad will sell well it's actually more of an iTV than an ebook reader and the multimedia capabilities are likely to dominate perception and expectations. Books are consumed fundamentally differently. Personally, I'm very much looking forward to the Que as the right format for my purposes where battery life and good reading experience are paramount.

Of course, there is the danger that Apple's baby will steamroller the markets with defacto standards but there is also a good chance of happy coexistence. And with some interesting display technologies coming along such as Qualcomm's there should be a bit of competition in the market.

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Jobs Horns

a new thing?

Gosh! your right the sony's and kindle are shit for reading in dim light, i bet them and those dead tree things will never catch on!!!!!

god i hate apple fanboi's

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Downside to digital books

I gave the earlier sony reader to t'other half late last year for her birthday. She loves it, it works perfectly for the train-work run, BUT she cannot get modern novels for it. She has had to buy the hardback versions of the last two volumes of 'The Millenium Trilogy' (Steig Larsson). You'd think they could get that together, even at the inflated price of digital books (which we would be happy to pay just to get a digital copy). It's not as thought there is anything much to do is there?

P.

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If only they had faster color e-ink

Seems like we need faster (well say at least 30Hz or FPS if you like) color e-ink and we'd be set.

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PDFs on the Sony

I don't know if the 300 is different, but on the 505 I can magnify pdfs,makes them readableatmid magnification

not for charts mind, which is a problem

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article with build in bias

Got to love a writer who builds a conclusion into an article, without any evidence at all, while commenting on something that does have some evidence, be it only statistics.

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Palm device

I'm not bothered at all for the iPad - too big for what I want/need in an eReader.

I've had a Handspring Visor for about 10 years now and for what I use it for it's perfect. I know the screen is reflective, but it's not bothered me at all using it either inside or outside at the swimming pool.

Saying that power must be a bugger for the iPad - I use 2 AAA batteries in a month, and my visor cost me $ 25 USD on Ebay

Ereaders have been around for a ling time, no one's just paid any attention to them.

Where'e the smiley face with the jiggly boobs ? That's the one I want.

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Bettery life is key

The Sony will go flat just in standby in about 5 days.. whether you read it or not. Not impressed with eink myself..doesn't live up to the hype- you need a light behind you to get the contrast up to readability.. I find it unreadable in pure daylight as it's only grey on grey - an LCD would be far better.

The ipad fails for me on major points... poor battery (10 hours? wtf?) and overpriced... I thought £150 for the Sony was bad (it's worth about £50) but £500 for an ebook reader? lol.

There's also the availability of books in the UK, on which they *all* fail. The Sony ebook store doesn't work in the UK, Amazon don't do ebooks in the UK, the itunes book store doesn't work in the UK... Until that is sorted ebook readers will all be a nonstarter here.

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'The Sony will go flat just in standby in about 5 days..'

Really? I can get a couple of weeks out of the 505 - even more if I don't put a memory card in it and just rely on the internal memory.

Fantastic device, the iPad will have to be REALLY impressive if it is to be a better way of reading on the go. But I agree with you over the terrible Waterstone's eBook store. It's simply shocking, how Sony tolerate it I don't know.

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Re Bettery (sic) life is key

Firstly, the ipad is way more than just a book reader. It can be an eBook reader, but also a Video/ TV player, MP3 player, Internet browser, Email device, Photoframe, portable Games console, productivity device (iWorks looks like it will be usable), capable of running any of the 140,000+ apps already available in the apps store. Heck, it's practically a netbook! Being all of these things, battery life will be compromised on and obviously less than a dedicated ebook reader.

Secondly, the quoted 10 hour battery life was for playing videos non-stop. Obviously battery life would be increased if only using the ipad as a book reader. You could turn wi-fi/ 3g off, reduce brightness, volume etc. which would further increase battery life.

Thirdly, UK prices have not yet been an announced but starting price is $499, which is £314 at today's exchange rate. I don't think Apple will price it at £499.

Ebooks are already here with the iPhone/ iPod touch. Try the Stanza app. Books are downloaded, from several different sources, within the app itself. Don't need iTunes for that. Knowing Apple, the bookstore with the ipad will no doubt be very extensive (and expensive, probably!).

Finally, I'm writing this on an iPod Touch, which is fine. This can only get better with the ipad. Try doing that on your ebook reader!

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@Tony Hoyle

Waterstones have a great eBook site, and there are a number of others out there that work from the UK.

IMHO, the Ipad will not make the slightest difference to ebook consumers. It's the pleasure of reading from a natural looking e-ink display that attracted me, not wading around with flashy over-marketed Apple branded hypeware.

That said, my Sony 505 does run out of batteries far faster than I expected, and I am all too frequently disapointed when picking the device up after a few days and finding the battery warning message appearing. My next ebook will definately have genuinely long battery life as it's major feature.

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still liking the Palm OS best

I've been using various Palms for around 10 years now, for contact management and for extensive use as an e-reader.

I relied on Handspring devices for five years, then tried (and did not like) the Sony variant and am now happy on a T3.

I started using Avantgo as a newsreader, and moved into RSS once AG was killed.

The great thing that the Kindle has done for me is create many more ebooks than initially were available (aside from hardcore dork things, which have always been available as PDFs and hence were things I could load up.)

The kindle and the Apple and the JooJoo are larger than I want to tote and give me much less control over what lands on the reader and how I use it.

Granted, you're now limited to buying used devices off Ebay if this is what you want to keep Ludding along with, but I hope by the time I finally have to give up on these, someone will have come up with something close to as good.

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WTF?

Apples and oranges

It is clear why, Steve Jobs would try to confuse potential buyers by comparing IPad to e-book readers, but I fail to understand how can dedicated technology sites can put them in the same category?

The poeple who have not seen an e-book reader in operation can be mislead into comparing these products. It seems like Apple might one more time exploit consumer ignorance to technology. It far easier to fool people than educating them.

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Happy

reading in the dark

I have little gooseneck LED lamp, which plugs into the USB socket on the top of my iLiad.

It's spot on. Badum-tish.

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I'll stick with my Hanlin V3

works great, has no issues. Will get the A9 probably as well for reading PDFs and such stuff... As for beach... there are products to store PDAs and such and still have them accessible :)

Also 21 days battery time on a single charge BEATS AA or anything else.

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nope

Ain't no ebook Reader. Battery life alone let alone screen. My Sony 505 all the way.

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing like a bit of tech envy and addiction

forget class As once you are chasing the tech dragon, you need a little more each hit :)

Thankfully I actually use my computer systems, but still it does rear its head, the things is if you know your thing, then you can get your hit for a lot less bucks. I am holding out for freescale.

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Anonymous Coward

Check your library

I have the bookeen cybook and it is great. Since updating to FW2.0 recently it now also supports epub files as well as most other non DRM'd file types. OK have lost the mobi format but it was worth it to make the jump to use epub.

My council library in the UK has ebooks available to download and has a lot of the newer releases also, that way I get round the high cost of the books and assuming i put up with the Adobe DRM (ok I know it can be got round) I get all the books I need for free.

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FAIL

In the dark reading

I've had a little clip-on, battery powered light for years now to tackle darkness when reading. When I switched to a Cool-ER ereader, I just used the same thing. I fail to see how this is a downside for a device which tries to imitate a paper book as much as possible, in fact, it's a massive up-side. Backlit devices strain my eyes and, because I read a lot, such a device would not be fit for purpose. Then of course there's the extra battery power required for a backlight to consider.

The iPad is not comparable to a dedicated ereader. It might do if you just want to read for 20 mins a day but anything more than that and you'll soon have headaches.

I don't understand the comparisons going around. The iPad willnot replace an ereader, it will not replace a PC/laptop, it will not replace a TV, it cannot replace a phone. The iPad is for someone who wants to do a *little* bit of everything, an apprentice in some trades, but it's certainly not a master of any.

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Dead Vulture

The analysis in this article is shit!

Apple fanbois and people who want additional media functionality will buy the iPad but, for me, it's way too limited and expensive - only the battery life gives it an advantage over a tablet netbook. As far as the reading experience goes, the battery life is actually a disadvantage for the iPad along with the backlit screen. So on paper at least (no pun intended) the iPad isn't an obvious competitor for the ereader, despite Apple opening a bookstore to try to muscle in on that market.

My mum is probably typical of ereader users, someone used to books who just wants a book-type experience. Though I'm an IT professional I have to confess that I found her Sony ereader software almost unusable (partly a result of the publishers' incredibly stupid decision to incorporate DRM.) How is my poor mum supposed to cope? She has also been frustrated to discover that barely any of the brand new or contemporary titles she wants are actually available and that they cost more than the paperback.

Apple are known for delivering a smooth, idiot-proof experience. Unless Sony (and others) can improve on the usability of their readers and their commercial arrangements with publishers, they may be leaving the door open to the iPad, which actually delivers an inferior reading experience and a fraction of the battery life. Remember that the iPod is actually a crap music player and the iPhone is a crap phone so the factors for success should be clear!

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