back to article 2011's Best... E-book Readers

World+Dog might fancy a glossy, colour tablet, but for the more literary inclined an e-book reader will likely prove a more suitable option. Yes, they're not as flash as fondleslabs, but their screens are legible both indoors and out, and their batteries last an age between charges. And, to please the canny gift buyer, they're …

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  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
    Devil

    Read them on the tube before reviewing

    The "girly" embossing of the Kobo makes it considerably more convenient then Amazon's offering for reading on a tube or commuter train because it allows for better grip. I have both the Kobo and Amazon's offering in the house and the Kobo gets more use.

    In fact, everyone who sees it wants one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Kobo

      aye, i have one too, was never a big fan of these things but im really happy with it, cant believe how small it is an its been dropped a couple of times to no ill effect. I had a wee play with that vox device WHSmith have now (oh the fun watching the staff cringe when asked complicated questions), its not too bad at all tho, but the touch Kobo still has my vote, its small, its light an easy to use, a perfect wee "book" no messing about, it just does what it says on the tin!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Kobo £67..

      Asda are doing the non-touch Kobo for £67. (£107 for the touch).

      3million books on Kobo 750k on Kindle. Same hardware, same screen, no lock-in and cheaper.

      No brainer to me....

  2. Ian K
    Headmaster

    Kindle Tied to Amazon?

    Well, sort of, in that you can only make purchases/automatic downloads from there.

    You can copy DRM-free MOBI files on through a variety of means though, and get most eBooks into that format via Calibre. So it's not a very tight tying.

    1. John Bailey
      Stop

      Provided you redefine the meaning of tied.

      Ahh.. The Amazon astroturfer is out again I see.

      1) All e-book readers read more than one format. And usually all but one are DRM free.

      2) Free ebooks are not just available in Mobi, which since the Kindle came out, has pretty much been abandoned by Amazon. So really.. You are more likely to need to convert even free books to mobi. But can download direct with ePub.

      3) Calibre (great tool) supports pretty much EVERY e-book format, so converting from Mobi is just as easy as converting to mobi. And there are few, if any readers that Calibre does not recognise.

      4) Amazon and Apple are the only ones who tie your book purchasing to their store. Everybody else uses ADE. So everybody else allows you to choose who you do business with.

      Now stop trying to mislead people.

      1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Provided you redefine the meaning of tied.

        Clarification. Kindle is tied to Amazon in as much as if you want to buy e-books, almost all of which are DRM-protected - O'Reilly offerings being a very notable exception - you really have to buy from Amazon.

        With the Sony, say, you can buy from a variety of different bookshops.

        You are still tied by DRM, though. If you buy a second e-reader, and it's not a Sony, you still have to make sure your new reader handles Adobe DRM. Fortunately, many do.

        Reg readers may be able to strip Amazon-sold e-books of DRM, but lots of folk can't - or won't for fear of it requiring what they may perceive as dodgy software off the net. So, if they buy into Kindle, they're stuck with Kindle to view ebooks purchased from Amazon.

        Now, Amazon at least supports iOS, Android and other platforms so its e-books can be read on other devices. That may be true of DRM'd ePub e-books too, but it's a while since I checked - Adobe Digital Editions software p**sed me off so much, I vowed never to use it again.

        Does tie-in matter? No one here likes it, me included, but Amazon is not going to go titsup anytime soon, so you can argue your purchases are safe. If an ePub seller goes under, you can still read their offerings on any ePub DRM-supporting device.

        The only barrier is the ePub-to-Kindle, and that is surmountable with third-party software if you need it. So, more a hassle than a barrier.

        So, none of these devices are truly open, but they are openable. But the hassles are the fault of publisher-imposed DRM, not Amazon, Sony or Kobo.

        Heck, even Apple dropped DRM from music the first chance it got.

      2. Ian K
        FAIL

        "Ahh.. The Amazon astroturfer is out again I see."

        @John Bailey: "Astroturfer"? "again"? You mean I could be getting paid for this? And I've done it before? Damn, it seems you know things about what I'm doing that I didn't even know myself - I'm so impressed!

        No idea why you're quite so fixated on Amazon being teh bad, and anything that's not actively hostile to them being misleading (even if, somehow, it's also correct - I notice none of your comments actually say anything I posted was wrong), but I'm sure in your head you're right. Keep up the paranoid work.

        1. Gav
          Unhappy

          'teh bad

          Amazon are not 'teh bad'. They have an excellent online shop. Kindle is a nifty piece of kit. Amazon are also not likely to go out of business any time soon and leave anyone stranded.

          But a lock-in to a propriety format and single retailer is totally "teh bad". It's a inexcusable policy, that only ever benefits Amazon to the disadvantage of their customers. Yes, there are ways of circumventing that lock-in, but they are a hassle I do not wish to saddle myself with and most people will not be able to do it..

          This is why I won't be buying a Kindle in its current format.

          1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

            Re: Teh bad

            "But a lock-in to a propriety format and single retailer is totally "teh bad"."

            I will vote for any politician who will undertake to make DRMs illegal as a concept. A vendor must not be allowed to have any control over the product he gives to the customer from the moment the money changed hands.

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        WTF?

        @John Bailey

        I own a Kindle, I have no trouble using Calibre to put pretty much any e-book I can find onto it. If your point is that it doesn't handle competing DRM systems as used by other e-book sellers than Amazon, then so what? I won't buy the e-books from them, it really doesn't bother me.

        Does this make me an astroturfer? I neither work for or have ever been paid any money by Amazon (except for refunds on things I have bought where the price has subsequently dropped between ordering and dispatch). Generally I have found them a good company to do business with. Criticising people or calling them names for stating this seems to be more of an ad-hominem attack than anything else.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    I can't believe you said....

    I can't believe you said 'simples'.

    Go stand in the corner and think about what you've done.

  4. Kingprawn
    Paris Hilton

    Just because...

    ...I have an Amazon account does not mean I want to buy all my eBooks from them. So for me the Sony wins.

    Paris: because she would love to be able to read

  5. James 51 Silver badge

    Sony has one big advantage

    It can download books directly from library websites. If it can download audio books too I might just upgrade from my 350.

  6. Stacy
    Thumb Down

    I would love a Kindle....

    If only Amamzon would let me buy one from the UK instead of making me buy one from half way around the world! I have a UK account with Amazon.co.uk, but they refuse to ship to the Netherlands forcing me to buy from the .com site instead :(

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Stop

      What about amazon.fr?

      They're available on Amazon's French site (in euros, of course) but maybe Amazon would still insist you order from their .com site - worth a try, anyway.

    2. majorursa
      Facepalm

      Why care, you can use the same login on the US site, same creditcards etc.. It's at yout door in 2 days so no difference. So, what's your problem?

    3. Anonymous John

      Have you tried Currys/PC World? I don't know if they sell abroad.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ask nicely...

      And one of the UK residents here will let you ship to us and then forward it on.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I got my kindle shipped from the states to Spain, and then promptly registered it with my UK account... No trouble so far... though I'm blatently flouting the rules.

    6. Sooty

      Similarly

      I'd love a touchscreen kindle to replace my ageing Be-book, but for some strange reason the only way to buy one is to have it shipped from America, which I'd rather not do!

      I'll probably end up getting a kobo.

  7. johnnytruant

    Sony PRS-T1

    I've just bought a PRS-T1 and it's bloody lovely. For me, the extra £40 over the Kindle so I could make use of my local library's digital lending system - directly through the reader itself (plus wifi) - was a no brainer. Might have merited a mention in the review, the library-lending capability, although not all library services offer it (yet).

    Also, I think the Sony manages the eInk Pearl screen better than the Kindle does. The Sony does a blank on each page turn which the Kindle only does every five page turns. The text after the third or fourth refresh without blanking looks decidedly jaggy to my eyes.

    Fits into Kindle cases as well, which is handy.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Thanks for the tip-off on Kindle cases! The Sony ones are chuffin' expensive. I asked my local library at the weekend and to my surprise they knew what the hell I was on about. Apparently it's being rolled out soon; they're just waiting for the related website to be polished off.

    2. James 51 Silver badge

      Can you download audio books as well?

      1. johnnytruant

        http://digitallibrary.norfolk.gov.uk/ has audiobooks for lending, but I haven't tried borrowing any. Other library services may vary.

    3. Giles Jones Gold badge

      With the latest firmware the Kindle can refresh the display after every page turn.

      The text always looks smooth to me.

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    "Who doesn't have an Amazon account these days?"

    That's somewhat missing the point. A more pertinent question is "Who cares so little for competition that they want to be tied to Amazon for all their purchases?"

    1. Audrey S. Thackeray

      Wouldn't choose to be tied to one supplier but I suspect that I wouldn't really care very much in practice - and I don't think I'd let a minor point of business principle decide things for me.

      If Amazon are wildly more expensive people will quickly switch to another reader - there's no huge financial barrier to doing that given the price of these devices and so the next time there's a good reason to upgrade there'd be a good reason to switch if Amazon was abusing its position, so I reckon they'll stay price competitive and I won't mind shopping with them.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        You're missing the point

        "If Amazon are wildly more expensive people will quickly switch to another reader"

        So people have bought 20 books on a Kindle you think they're just going to jump platform and lose that "investment"? These proprietary systems are poison. They're sticky - the more you buy the less inclined you are to leave. Even if Amazon jacked up their prices, or started charging for repeat downloads, or started charging a subscription for cloud storage, their audience will be captives to the service.

        This tying is anti competitive in the extreme. You are locked in, you cannot move even if you wanted to, you cannot avail of offers or deals on other services, or books not sold by one vendor but sold by another, you cannot move your collection outside of Amazon's grasp. It's abusive, it's anticompetitive. It might seem great now that Amazon are subsidizing their readers but they are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.

  9. Scho
    Stop

    Yeah but....

    Have you tested these through an airport x-ray scanner?

    My mate is on his 3rd or 4th kindle after going through customs as the x-ray scanner fries the screens. I believe this is the new version too.

    Just a warning for anyone who travels via air a lot.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Yeah but....

      Sounds like FUD.

      I've taken Kindles through X-ray scanners to Europe, Australia and the US, and back again with no screen damage.

      Airport staff inspecting bags without taking care of your kit? Now that I can believe.

      1. jeanius
        Black Helicopters

        Re Airport security: Took mine to Thailand, no problem at all. I'd suggest switching it off though.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      In agreement with Tony Smith

      My Kindle, which has retroactively become a Kindle Keyboard, has come with me on a couple of trips to the US and a couple of trips to other countries in Europe and been fine. So that's eight trips through airport customs with no issues, at least as hand luggage.

    3. Aldous

      FUD

      Mines been through Brussels, Birmingham and Munich airports scanners multiple times in its 1 year life with no damage to the screen. it has got some dead pixels now but that was where i dropped an mp3 player onto it (luckily its intthe margin area)

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      FAIL

      @Scho

      I've taken mine through airport scanners at a number of european airports, a number of times (probably well into the double digits). The only trouble I have had is a tiny dead patch on the screen where it got a knock against something hard in my bag. This is slightly annoying, but I believe Amazon have a policy of fixing such things for free if I could be bothered to send it off to them.

      AFAIK, other readers use the same screen as the Kindle anyway (I think the WH Smiths one does anyway)

  10. Bart Tyszka
    Alert

    Bookeen Odyssey

    Number one on the list, the Bookeen CyBook Orizon is an old model - the latest touchscreen model from Bookeen was released last month.

    I was hoping for a review from El Reg (as it's supposed to have the fastest e-ink refresh rate), but that's not going to happen... you don't even appear to know it exists.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Bookeen Odyssey

      It's not out yet, or wasn't late last month when we put this together. Besides, not having looked at it yet, how can we say whether it's any good or not?

      1. Bart Tyszka

        Fair enough, though it was released on the 22nd of November.

        Hope you can review it soon - before xmas?

  11. Greg J Preece

    PRS-T1 for me

    Functionality is always key for me, and with the quick hack demonstrated on here recently the Sony Reader becomes a Kindle as well. I'm actually kinda surprised that wasn't mentioned in the article; El Reg did report on it.

    I had a play with one in a Sony store and it's unbelievably light for its size. Fits nicely in my jacket pocket, runs Android, does everything I need and doesn't lock me in to anything or argue with me about file formats. It's the obvious winner for me, so I'll pay the extra £30 (or less if you go on Play.com).

  12. Windrose
    FAIL

    Less cheap looking?

    *tap, tap*?

    The 'new' Sony Reader has lost the nice aluminum body of the PRS-650 et al, and added battery-hungry wifi.

    "Less cheap looking"? Smoking one's socks isn't a particularly good idea.

  13. Bart Tyszka
    FAIL

    Kindle - "one of the best 6in e-ink screens around"?

    Not according to toms hardware and a few posts I've seen on ereader forums:

    "We called up E Ink Corporation to ask if this was a batch-related issue, and was told that this is most likely due to Amazon choosing a particular grade of display panels. So, while the new Kindle comes at a lower price, the company is probably cutting its costs as well by using a slightly cheaper display."

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/kindle-e-book-reader,3040-3.html

    1. Mat
      FAIL

      Kindle 4

      ... Only does a full page refresh every 6 pages - this is why the text looks a little less crisp on the 4th and 5th page turn - The latest firmware allows a full refresh (like the Kindle Keyboard) on every page turn.

      Fail because fail to read the posts above you!

  14. Martin 47

    Oh ffs, the Kindle is not tied to amazon, has the author never heard of calibre?

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Having to use a third party tool to untie Amazon book is pretty much the definition of tied in my book.

    2. John Gamble

      Calibre

      I have, I use it, and it is wonderful, but since Calibre works with all readers that I know of, that gives one even less reason to yoke one's self to Kindle.

    3. Mark 65

      Context

      What they probably mean is "for your average pleb user who just wants to buy it and use the inbuilt facilities for downloading and storing books rather than fuck around with extra software, converting, etc it is tied to Amazon."

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        I know it must be fun for some

        "fuck around with extra software, converting, etc"

        But I'd rather fuck around with my wife in my free time...

        Having said this, I've spend the last Saturday de-DRMing my son's Kindle book collection. Which only reinforced the above point for me further...

  15. Mad Frankie
    Alert

    Kindle models

    Kindle Keyboard gets lower than lower functionality Kindle 4. Surely some mistake?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kindle Keyboard has browser + free 3G net access

    Worth mentioning that the Kindle Keyboard comes with a browser to take advantage of the free 3G net access.

    1. Northern Fop
      Stop

      Browser, schmowser

      Also worth mentioning that the browser is so shit as to be practically unusable, in my experience.

      I do like the keyboard though...

      1. Darren Barratt
        Thumb Up

        It's true, the browser is bad (hence it's listed under "Experimental" in the menus rather than being listed as a feature), but it does as a last resort if you have no other alternative.

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        The browser is OK, but when the the refresh rate of the e-ink screen is measured in seconds rather than miliseconds, displaying web pages, especially anything with javascript that has multiple refreshes per page-load takes a very long time. It terms of compatibility, it seems that any website that works on the iPad will work on the Kindle, but it will be much slower. Obviously you can forget about getting videos to work.

  17. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    The inevitable Tablet comparison

    Cdn$199 for a RIM PlayBook. That's about 125 UK Pounds. Yeah, it even comes with a Kobo App.

    Downside: brilliant LCD screen (not e-ink), battery might need to be recharged each night while you sleep. It's not on sale right now.

    Upsides: It's a tablet.

    1. Richard Gadsden
      FAIL

      I like my eyes

      I only get one set, so I look after them. Thanks, but no thanks.

  18. Jamie Kitson
    Thumb Up

    Kindle Browser

    You don't mention that along with being able to browse the Amazon store anywhere, you can browse the internet anywhere for no extra charge. A fantastic feature sorely worth mentioning.

  19. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    What I don't understand is...

    What's the advantage of even the 2nd day of battery life?

    I mean - *assuming that one sleeps where electricity exists*. {ROLLS-EYES}

    So what's the big deal? Plug the gadget in just before you turn-in for the night.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What I don't understand is...

      What's the advantage of even the 2nd day of battery life?

      1. Charging things up is annoying, especially since we have so many gadgets requiring it nowadays.

      2. Batteries only have a limited number of charging cycles, so an e-reader that needs charging more regularly will die quicker.

      3. Conventional books don't need charging at all. Reducing this requirement as much as possible lessens this particular disadvantage of e-readers.

    2. John Gamble

      Re: What I don't understand is...

      Wow. You don't understand that people travel, yes, sometimes to where electricity isn't available? Or even that daily plug-in is yet another task that sensible people can do without?

    3. Greg J Preece

      Well aside from the fact that you don't have to remember to do it, how many recharge cycles can your phone battery take before it begins to deteriorate? Now if you only had to recharge it once a month, how much longer would that battery last?

    4. Jonnystv
      Thumb Up

      Battery Life (Kindle 3)

      The advantage of the long battery life (esp. with wireless connections switched off) depends entirely on how & where you use the device.

      I'm currently touring on my bike in east Africa. Settling down for the night in my tent in the middle of nowhere in the Sudanese desert, having not had access to a power socket for a week, I can still curl up with a good book. Luxury.

      Incidentally, the 3G coverage doesn't seem to extend to Sudan or Ethiopia. I assume this is because Amazon has no arrangements with the local carriers.

  20. Jelliphiish
    Pint

    i haz new toi

    i got the 89 quid kindle.. it's lovely. i tested the 3 on my gf and borrowed it a couple of times as i wasn't sure on the 'reading from a screen'.. e-ink is ace as everybody knows.

    the little button in the middle takes a little extra getting used to but i favour it over the keyboard one.. i rarely use the kb anyway..

    beats lugging the malazan book of the falen around, my shoulder couldn't take many more of those.. and that stephenson bloke could lighten up a tad too.. not any more.. yayz.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Weird

      And here I was thinking that reading improved your general literacy...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kobo Touch – MicroSD cards

    Worth noting that the Kobo Touch also can use microSD cards, as expandable storage was mentioned for the Sony.

    @Jaimie Kitson – the Kobo Touch has a Web browser.

    @Ian K and Matin 47 – yes, you can use Calibre, but if we’re talking out of the box, then you are tied to Amazon.

    @James51 and johnnytruant – the Kobo Touch can also be used to access library books.

    I don't own an eReader, btw, but have been reading up about them...

    1. Ian K

      "but if we’re talking out of the box, then you are tied to Amazon."

      @AC 16:55 - Not really; the box comes with a USB cable too, and if you can get a MOBI file onto your computer you can treat the Kindle as an external drive and copy files onto it that way. Calibre not needed.

      Of course you could argue that having a computer isn't an "out of the box" thing either, but we're all Reg readers here and TBH the odds are that in practice we'll have several times more computers than eReaders at any given time...

    2. Martin 47

      But thats the point, straight out of the box you are not tied to amazon, all amazon do with the kindle is make it very easy and convenient to use amazon, there is nothing on any of the kindle readers that ties the user into amazon.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Indeed, it's not tied, they just make it really easy to buy from Amazon.

        For the last few days I've been using the experimental web browser on the 'mobile' version of the Gutenburg project website, downloading various out-of-copyright books.

        Over the free 3G.

        In another country, on the other side of the world.

        I'd say that's not really tied to anything in particular - not even my home country!

        I don't see any technical reason why I couldn't do the same on any other website that offers downloads in MOBI format, whether paid-for or free. (I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any!)

        The downside that I've found is that my home library doesn't support Kindle for e-loans - at present that's only supported in the US.

        That particular feature is a good reason to go for the Kobi or Sony one instead - though check with your library before committing.

  22. Joe Carter
    Pint

    PRS-T1 is hackable

    As noted in other el-reg stories, the PRS-T1 runs android and its possible to get to it.

    ok most android stuff is pretty unusable with e-ink display but there is potential there. The "upgrade" even survived the last Sony update. The kindle app works - I've bought a (DRM'd) book - but suffers from excessive flicker because it animates the page turns. I've not found any way of disabling that otherwise it'd an excellent reader even more flexible.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, but it's still no thanks

    I mean, it's nice of you to think of me at christmas, and all that, but, for all my gadget drooling, indeed, gadget buying even, when it comes to books ... I still want paper.

  24. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "Batteries only have a limited number of charging cycles..."

    About three years of charging several times per week. By then the device in question is obsolete anyway (because better devices are by then cheap as chips). I'm trying to think how many gadgets I own (many dozens) that I've needed to replace a battery? A couple?

    Me thinks that people make too much of the once a month charging "advantage" (sic) of e-ink e-book readers. It's certainly an interesting technical characteristic - but it's way past being an *actual* advantage. Assuming that there's an electrical outlet within extension-cord-reach of your bed.

    Of course, even I will eventually purchase an e-ink e-book reader. But first they need to adjust the price point away from the $199 price point of the far-more-amazing tablets. $50 would work for me, provided it linked by wifi, accepted memory cards and displayed pdfs. Even one week battery life would be overkill.

    1. Darren Barratt
      Devil

      Well, if you've been a very good boy then Santa will make sure your e-book is wrapped in it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's OK for you rich folks ...

      I'd prefer paper too if I could afford it.

      Well, obviously I could afford the paper itself as a one-off, but the space to keep a half-decent library is too far beyond my means. The e-reader solves that.

      1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: That's OK for you rich folks ...

        E-books are rarely more expensive than paper. When they are, it's usually when the hardback is out, and the e-book is priced accordingly.

        Solution: wait for the paperback to come out, and the e-book price will fall.

        Caveat: this is a generalisation, obviously.

        By buying carefully rather than taking a 'it's out, I must have it NOW' attitude, e-books need not be expensive. And they take up eff-all space in your living room, which is why I like 'em.

        Buying a bigger house costs a *lot* more than the (tiny) e-book premium.

        Oh, and paper? Just an analogue data delivery mechanism. It's the content that counts, not what it's sent to you on/in, IMHO.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Doesn't look the same, doesn't feel the same, and doesn't smell the same --- and no backlit screen is going to lull me to sleep the way a book does (although some sort of warm-light setting might, in the future, take care of that objection, I suppose).

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            @Thad

            The whole point of e-ink is that it is reflective contrast, not back-lit. This does of course eman you still need a torch to read th thing under the covers, but is why it is also kinder on the eyes.

    3. stu 4
      Happy

      i was you

      last year - I was you. I read 30-40 books a year. I liked getting them from amazon, etc. Reading the physical things, storing them in my bookshelf, lending them to friends.

      But now I travel more, and was finding lugging books around a pain.. so I decided to give a kindle a try.

      A year later, I have read over 100 books this year -all on Kindle. Mostly ones I'd never read before as they were free kindle ones. I still read in the hot tub, etc and I still lend books to friends (if free ones).

      I really can't say I miss paper at all and I'd say it's pretty much revolutionised my book reading.

      I have also converted both my mum and dad to kindles (where I use Calibre on my server at home to scrape and send him the daily papers every day for example).

      give one a go - you might be surprised.

    4. jonathanb Silver badge

      I suppose if you are in a hotel, your travel adapter will be used to charge your phone / fondleslab / laptop / camera batteries / shaver and not having to charge your e-book reader as well would be a bonus.

  25. thesykes

    No mention of the Kindle Keyboard's text to speech capability... something that interests me as a family member has dyslexia and this would be helpful. Do any of the other non-Kindles have this?

    1. Tim Walker

      I bought the WiFi-only Kindle Keyboard a couple of weeks ago (Amazon are selling them as "refurbished" for £79, though the packaging and device look untouched), and I gave the text-to-speech a try.

      It's rather better than I expected - yes, the voice is American (but I can live with that ;-)), and the T-to-S can pronounce most words correctly, even a few names. I wish the program would recognise headings and pause either side of reading them (it speaks headings with no pauses), but again it's only a minor irritant for me.

      I didn't expect to use text-to-speech on the Kindle, but I occasionally have it read something to me when I'm making dinner (it makes an interesting alternative to Radio 4). I'd also be interested to know if any of the other e-readers offer a similar feature.

      (BTW - let me join the many here who have already said it: if you buy an e-reader (especially a Kindle), install Calibre on your PC/Mac. Already, I find it almost invaluable, and I haven't even tried many of the features yet...)

  26. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Kindle isn't really tied to Amazon

    I can email myself MOBI, PDF or other supported files and they magically appear on the Kindle - I have most* of the Gutenburg collection that route.

    If it's over WiFi, then it's free - it can go over the 3G link instead but they charge money for that so I don't.

    Presumably I could do the same by plugging it into a USB port on my computer, but I've never bothered.

    I would like to know if my library is planning to add Kindle as well as Sony support - that is one downside that I should have researched a bit better.

    The built-in browser is pretty handy - it's not a tablet computer, but then I didn't get it for use as a tablet.

    *The bits I care about.

    1. johnnytruant

      My girlfriend is a library manager and Amazon UK are currently refusing to play nice with Overdrive, the library lending service that most (all?) UK e-lending systems use. Not the library's fault there's no Kindle support, they are trying!

      The Kindle works with some US Overdrive-powered systems, so it's technically possible and therefore will probably be coming to the UK at some point. It seems foolish of Amazon not to get involved, but then I guess there's limited profit for them - although library lending does become a selling point which they can lever more customers in with, or a point which they lose sales to Sony/Kobo on.

  27. Toolman83

    Nook?

    no mention of the Nook there?

    the Simple Touch is pretty nice :-)

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Nook?

      Nook is nice but not readily available in the UK, where, IIRC, Barnes & Noble does not operate.

  28. pith
    Thumb Down

    NOOK Simple Touch?

    Based on Android so rootable... meaning you can run the kindle software as well... and not even mentioned...

    I'm hoping its good cause i have asked santa for it this year!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Non-starter for me.

    Until they let me read one of these things on take off and landing (where I get 40-50% of my reading done) then I'm not interested.

    Paper books don't interefere with the controls apparently (unless you throw War & Peace really hard at the pilot).

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Non-starter for me.

      Ahem, I've kept mine on often enough during T/O and L. Keep it out of plain view. Heck, you can't turn the thing off, anyway, just fix the screen view...

      1. Martin Huizing
        Mushroom

        If you ever sit next to me on a plane...

        ...I will do with yours what I did with the last one that dared to keep his electronic device turned on;

        I grabbed his e-reader and snapped it in half.

        When he complained I replied (loudly); "Bomb, what BOMB? What the hell are you talking about?"

        1. Dana W
          Thumb Down

          Ever hear of "Airplane Mode"? Kindle has to too.

  30. JDX Gold badge

    I always get told to turn mine off, and I agree it is a pain. Since disobeying the hostess is illegal in the US, I'm not keen on breaking the law just to read my book.

  31. JDX Gold badge

    here we go...

    How many posts before someone uses the phrase "walled garden" in anger?

  32. Gareth 18

    Kindle browser

    The inbuilt browser is great so long as you are just after checking emails, facebook, twitter etc and stick to the mobile sites.

    Whats best though is that it works abroad. I was staggered that I was able to surf the net when I was on holiday in Turkey this year completey free. Much better then my overpriced O2 roaming charges! Worth bearing in mind if you have one on holiday.

  33. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I treated myself to a Kobo touch...

    Turned off the wifi, deleted the freebie book-fractions, connected to Calibre and installed several hundred home-made epub books I was previously reading on the Sony prv-300.

    It's a bigger screen than the Sony (six inch versus five), but the case is only a few millimetres larger each direction than the Sony. It's forty grammes lighter, too...

    So far the only issue I've had is an inability to scroll to a second page of a contents list. Not sure about that one, but otherwise - the screen is easier to read, faster to refresh, and doesn't have the fade-through-black effect. Navigation seems a little easier too; the Sony was somewhat crippled by slow scrolling between successive index pages.

    On the whole, I'm very pleased.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about big screen e-readers?

    How about a review of some larger-screen e-readers for those of us who don't want to read their books on a screen the size of a postcard?

    I just don't get the "it must fit in your pocket" argument for e-readers. Seriously, how often do you carry around a book in your pocket? Surely a big percentage of people bring their books home and only read them when they're at home.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what about the cost of e-books?

    why are the e-books more expensive than the paper versions?

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: what about the cost of e-books?

      They incur 20% VAT, which paper books don't.

  36. edoardo

    KOBO touches are £99.99

    WHSmith are offering £10 off the KOBOs - voucher in store or just use the right code when ordering online,

    at just £10 more than the kindle, the ability to use multiple stores won for me

    even though I buy lots of other stuff fro amazon.

  37. clanger9
    Happy

    Kindle Keyboard 3G

    You missed the killer feature: it doesn't just connect to Amazon from anywhere. It connects to the WWW from anywhere. For free.

    OK, the built-in browser is a bit clunky, but being able to access Gmail, Google Reader, news sites, etc anywhere in the world for nowt is the reason I never travel without it...

  38. PassiveSmoking
    WTF?

    Kindle touch

    Why aren't Amazon releasing the Touch over here?

  39. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Slightly different meaning of "tied-in" ...

    Slightly disingenous of El Reg here ... it's true that only the Amazon store will suppy eBooks for the Kindle. However, the Kindle itself is quite capable of displaying .MOBI eBooks, that you can get from elsewhere. And it will handle .DOC and .PDFs too.

    So IMHO the Kindle is the best of both worlds ... yes, you can buy books from Amazon (and they do a fair selection of freebies too) or you can get a book elsewhere, and sent it to your Kindle via Whispernet, using Calibre - a fantastic free too for managing eLibraries.

    So my subcription to Linux Journal is easily sent to my Kindle.

  40. thomas k.

    no Nookie Touch love?

    Finally broke down and bought an e-reader, a Nook Touch (after the price drop to $99) and I just love it - small, light, easy to use, what's not to like.

    Only downside is PD books cost 99 cents at the B&N store, so you just d/l them from Gutenberg. They're really only shooting themselves in the foot by not giving that stuff away as it might entice someone like me to then purchase non-PD stuff from them.

  41. jeanius

    Downside: The available memory of the Kindle Keyboard is only 3.3GB, not the claimed 4GB. Upside: The battery life is phenomenal! Lasted me the whole of a 9;40hrs flight.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Battery lasted me a 10-hour flight, 2-hour layover, 6-hour flight, and three days afterwards inc. browsing on the internet.

      Then I though I probably ought to charge it because the battery symbol was at 50%.

      As to the memory - it's enough. You're probably never going to fill it because the navigation to open the books is probably not going to work very well >1000 books.

      Not that I can see a way they could do better given the limitations of how e-ink works.

  42. Infernoz Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    The Kobo Touch is in, the Kindle is out.

    WHSmiths have Kobo Touch at £99.99 now (in stock), it can support up to 32GB microSD (£28 on Amazon) and has good build quality unlike many cheap plastic readers, Kobo also supply syncing reader apps for many other platforms and sell books too, so it blows away all the other readers.

    Amazon has serious competition now.

    IMHO only suckers buy other readers now!

    Of course I own a Kobo Touch now, because I never trusted the Amazon lock-in and local storage restrictions.

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