On holiday I was able to get about 1,750 pages over three or four days with a single battery charge from my sony 350. I was able to read it in a dimly lit plane (with overhead light) and outside in bright sunshine with no eye strain. Tablets can be ereaders but they are not as good as a dedicated device.
Amazon may be about to launch a Kindle-branded Android tablet, but that hasn't stopped E Ink saying it expects 25-30m old-style e-book readers to ship in 2011. Most will wing their way from Asian factories in Q4 as the increasing presence of the e-book persuades punters to pick up low-cost e-book readers as Christmas presents …
If you just want to read
Then eInk is better than LCD. But I found the regular kindle too small.
Most of the PDFs I want to read are SCANS of old books. The text is just too small.
If you are reading a book you can't be zooming and scrolling on each page either.
If I want Video the TV is best, or if on a plane/train the old Archos 4.3" with 800x600 and 160Gbyte HDD.
If I want to do a mix of things a real laptop running Windows XP is still best. 1600 x 1200. I have separate Ubuntu laptop.
The tablets seem best suited for browsing material and people with short attention span:
Reading 3 page docs rather than 300 pages
Watching 3 minute YouTube rather than 3 hr HD feature film
Writing 3 line message/Note rather than 3 page to 30 page document.
Flipping through a dozen web sites rather than maintaining one or reading in depth Articles.
So Smart Phones, Tablets. Real Notebook/Laptops, Pocket PMP too large as a phone too small as a tablet and eReaders are really complementary different markets.
I never saw the point
of ebook readers. I think it was mainly due to eyestrain with reading on a laptop, but after a little time spent with a friends Kindle, I have to say if there is a chance of a nice budget ebook reader (the Kindle is a bit pricey right now) coming out, I may well join the queue.
Of course, I still maintain that there are areas where only paper will do, like haynes manuals and similar (I shudder to think what would happen to the displays with grease and used oil all over them), but in the eternal battle between books I really want to read Vs space in my house, they could be a very good ally!
Still sticking with dead trees until the prices come down a lot.
With typical eBook prices for new(ish) titles being £4.99+, and the paperback being about the same price, I'll stick with paper. Though I have noticed that the printed form is getting more expensive, rather than the ebooks getting cheaper, but then again second hand books are very cheap.
No matter how many page turns a real book never needs charging, the contrast is better that any e-Ink I've seen, and they are more resiliant to being dropping or squashed/bent in my rucksack, and when I'm done I can lend them to interested friends and family or donate them to the charity shops.
Book readers are quite expensive to buy, and you cannot lend an ebook easily or legaly.
Also unless you are expecting to crash land in the Amazon (or some other remote place) do you realy need to have 500 books at hand (better to have a good knife and a Ray Mears guide).
There are ways of lending ebooks legally. I think el Reg did an article on it a while back in fact.
I have decided that eBooks are like MP3s really. Yes, an MP3 is inferior to a CD, but carrying a bunch of CDs around with me is bulky and annoying. With an MP3 player, there is a slight difference in quality (especially with earphones, external noise, etc), but it's much more convenient. I really am coming round to the idea of having lots and lots of books in a device that's not much bigger than a regular hardback.
I don't think it's an either/ or. You can have both. What would be nice though is -like some indie record lables do when you buy a vinyl version of an album- is a download code for an ebook when you buy the dead tree one.
Not that bad...
I know we pay less for electronics on this side of the Atlantic, but I wouldn't really call E-Readers 'expensive.' I think you can get the cheapest Kindle for under $120, which is about what I spend on gas over 2 weeks' commute - not really out of my price range for a device that I use every day.
I still like books quite a lot, and I still buy first editions from certain authors (Just ordered Stephenson's latest,) nothing is quite like high quality printing on paper.
But I have used my kindle daily for about a year now, and most of your complaints are pretty much off base. Battery life on a Kindle just isn't an issue. I plug mine in maybe once every 3 weeks, when I feel like it's been a while since I charged it. Just a micro-usb cable on my computer at work, which I need for a few other devices anyway.
I've dropped my kindle plenty of times, packed it inconsiderately with hard objects, grabbed it with muddy/oily hands and covered it in finger prints, etc. Aside from a little extra flexability in the case, where I presume I snapped off a plastic clip or two, and a bit of a dent on a corner, it works perfectly. The screen isn't glass, so it hasn't broken, and scratches barely show up at all.
I solve most of the other problems you mention by mostly avoiding paying for the content I read. I'm sure enterprising minds could figure out how that might work.
And I don't "need" 500 books (it would get quite tiring browsing that many,) but it is nice to have quite a varied selection in my jacket pocket. I never know what I'll want to read next, and I tend to finish books frequently, I'm glad that I'm never really short of books.
I will say that the regular kindle is pretty poor for reading scanned PDFs (especially since these tend to be textbooks, with quite a lot of text,) and the idea of e-textbooks in general bothers me, since, when I need textbooks, I generally need no less than 6 of them at a time, with a handful of bookmarks (rulers, string, other books) in each. That sort of use case is quite tricky on one screen, no matter how big it is.
Would be even more, if only....
They'd produce proper A4-sized e-ink screens for reading technical books or PDFs formatted for A4 pages. Don't get me wrong, the Powerbook 903 or the Boox M90 are a step in the right direction, but 9.7 inches is only about A5 size.
Also you have to remember when you're reading a real book, there's two pages visible at the same time. This is sometimes used to illustrate complicated things, for example a diagram on the left page and explanatory text on the right.
People might complain about portability, but really an A4 e-reader is only the size of a notepad or the average laptop. It's still a heck of a lot easier than lugging around 3-4 O'Reilly books.
I think the e-readers ought to be free
I bought a kindle almost a year ago. Since then they've replaced it twice due to defects, international shipping free both ways. Because I own this e-reader, I've spend hundreds of dollars on their books, many of which I mightn't have bought otherwise, but almost certainly not from them. And that's in less than the first year. And they all fit in my jacket pocket. It's a win-win.