I have been considering a good e-reader over the past few days, and there are a lot of choices out there. Those of you who think it’s just the Kindle or just the Kindle or the Nook need to pull your heads out of the sand. There are dozens of options out there, most of them for Borders’ e-book library. And look, there’s another option!
So what am I looking for? Well, obviously, I need to be able to read e-books on it, duh. However, once you start getting into the fancier models, you run into other features. Mp3 players, color, audio, web surfing, e-mail, app stores, games, etc. Now we’re crossing into tablet country.
Tablets and their tiny cousins, the mini tablets are kind of new to the scene, though any Star Trek fan will recognize them immediately. They’re data pads, touch screen computers. They are what Gene Roddenberry intended. Thanks Gene! And with much grumbling, thanks to Apple. Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m not a big fan of Apple or Mac or anything to do with that company due to their proprietary nature, but that’s a subject for another time, but they put out the first one that started this storm. The iPad…*snicker* Feminine hygiene jokes aside, Apple paved the way. Simply put, a tablet is a giant smart phone that can’t make phone calls, with, of course, the exception of the drool worthy Dell Streak.
With that said, you might ask why I don’t use my cell phone as an e-reader. It’s a smart phone. I can access the internet and the apps store. In fact, I’ve already downloaded the apps for Kindle and Nook. But there’s a problem. My phone has a 3.5 inch screen, an absolute pain to read much of anything on aside from texts or the occasional e-mail. So while I have an adequate device, it’s not ideal. So back to the search.
I looked at e-readers, tablets and mini tablets, with a particular emphasis on Android. My phone is an Android and I’m comfortable with the layout. I’m also fond of the fact that it’s open source. It’s about as non-proprietary as you can get. I’m looking at you Steve Jobs.
So what was on my plate? Well, I looked at Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, naturally, all very adequate e-readers, but with not as much of the other bells and whistles as I would like. I went from there to Archos, a high powered mp3 manufacturer. They recently released the Archos 7 and also have the Archos 5 and Archos 9 among many, many other devices. All three devices have wi-fi, a browser, an app store, mp3 and video capabilities, and, of course, you can download e-reading applications. But I couldn’t find it anywhere with more than a three star rating. The Archos 5 is one of the top sellers on Tiger Direct, but the majority of reviews on the device were frustrating and disheartening to say the least.
The overall opinion I found was that the device freezes up constantly and you have to do several software patch, not to mention possibly having to do a complete reboot of the OS, before it works correctly. Now, I understand, no electronic device is going to be perfect right out of the box and you will have to do some patches and updates. But a complete reboot? I don’t have that kind of time or patience. The second feeling I got from the reviews was that this was common for all of Archos’ products. *sigh* Back to the search.
I went back to e-readers for a bit. I looked at the Pandigital Novel, the Literati, the Sony readers, the Velocity Cruz Micro reader and Tablet, but was once again disappointed. The manufacturers tried to make an e-reader into a tablet, meaning they put way too much on a low powered device. Which is okay, really. I think a lot of the bad reviews on most of these devices came from extremely technical people expecting a tablet pc in an e-reader. Not gonna happen, not with a device with 256 MB of RAM. No way, no how. My first computer had 256 MB or RAM. It didn’t do a whole lot and surfing the internet was painful. But truthfully, I don’t think it would bother me too much. As long as I can read my book, do a little web surfing, listen to some music, and maybe play a few games, I’m okay.
But still, I was curious about the more powerful machines out there. This brought me back to Archos and a few other devices. I know I don’t want Windows. I like Android. I really like Android. It’s fun and functional, but just not a good match for the tablets, yet. That and the tablets are extremely expensive, aside from Archos. *sigh* So unless I win the lottery or sell a half dozen stories and novels, not gonna happen.
I went back to the e-readers. I want to get a Nook for my mother. I think, by far, it’s the easiest to use, non-proprietary, and a large library considering it also allows access to Google Books along with any books published on most any other format as long as it’s not DRM, save Amazon and Sony. Amazon and Sony only want their publishing formats on their readers and no one else’s. Amazon also won’t allow any other format on the Kindle. Another strike in my book. It reminds me of Apple. So, Nook for mom.
However, I didn’t want one for myself. Not enough options or room to play. Until I saw the Nook Color. It’s the regular Nook on steroids. It’s got a full color screen along with limited web browsing, Pandora, additional formats allowed, and some games. Also, it’s priced between the regular Nook and some of the tablets I was looking at. 250$ I think I have a winner. It’s not a power hog, but it’s not just a plain old reader.
So how do you choose? Well, it depends on what you want and how comfortable you are with technology. If you want just an e-reader, then get an e-reader. Compare the devices and their home site’s library to see which will benefit you more. If you want something high-tech, but aren’t the comfortable doing patches or re-installs of the OS or trouble shooting normal computers, get an regular e-reader. You’ll be doing yourself and your tech savvy friends and family a favor. They don’t want to walk you through fixing your machine every day. If none of that bothers you and you want something that’s a little bit more powerful, has more bells and whistles, by all means, go with a tablet or a high-powered reader. You’ll have fun. Especially if you’re looking at it more from the standpoint of web browsing and video.
However, and I cannot stress this enough, read the reviews. Ignore the ones that are poorly spelled or written in LolCat. You won’t get any help from them. Also ignore the ones that don’t have a clue about tech and are spouting off angrily about technology they don’t understand. They will only discourage you. Read the reviews that are well thought out, technical, and break it down. It will give you a better idea of what you’re buying, or not buying if the reviews tell you to go elsewhere.
Also keep in mind. Technology changes very quickly. You may find much better readers and tablets down the road as time passes. Things are very exciting right now and look like they’re only going to get better.