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Ralphie
Motivated by a comment Mora made in the BF3 thread, I'm starting a discussion about ebooks and such. I was pretty uninterested/skeptical about the functionality and usability of these devices until recently, but in the last 6 months or so it seems like the ebook market has started to mature sufficiently - both on the hardware side and publishing side - to make it into a viable option over paper books. Until this point I'd mostly bought books from bookdepository.co.uk, having not purchased a book in an Aussie retail store for at least a year or two due to the ridiculous markups compared to OS.

Anyway, I did a bit of research into the ebook market and narrowed the options down to 4.

iPad / ibook store ($550+)

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This was the odd one out in my final 4, due to the much higher price tag and different/extra functionality. It might be a viable choice if you need the extra functionality, but I have a smartphone and a lightweight 11 inch laptop so it wasnt that important. In the end I wasn't very convinced that I could read small text comfortably on a backlit LCD screen for hours without hurting my eyes. Also, battery life is short.

Kindle 3 and Amazon store ($140 wifi -$180 3g)

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This has always been a strong contender in the ebook marketplace with a good store behind it. It has free 3g connection virtually anywhere in the developed world, a month+ battery life, and a well developed e-ink screen which is much nicer on the eyes compared to the LCD screens. On the downside its not a touchscreen, and the screen itself is fairly fragile (more on this later).

Sony PRS350 and Reader store

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This was another option I looked at quite seriously. Its a 5 inch screen compared to the kindle 3's 6 inch. It's also $229. Its smaller and lighter and has a touch screen with e-ink. I quite liked it but in the end the smaller screen and higher price let it down. Plus, the amazon store is bigger.

Barnes and Noble Nook Color ~$300

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Decent competitor to the Kindle, with a 7 inch touchscreen LCD. This is somewhere between an ipad and a kindle, with the screen and battery life closer to a tablet and the size and weight (and functionality and price) closer to an ereader.

On a side note, here's a microscope image that illustrates the difference between an LCD screen and E-ink at high magnification. The e-ink is very organic looking compared to the squared off pixels in an LCD, which i assume aids in the softness on your eyes. Lack of backlight glare also helps with the strain.

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While I was still mulling over which one to get, my brother was given a kindle 3 wifi as a gift from his company, and being an illiterate philistine he didnt have any use for it so passed it on to me. I loaded up a few demo books from amazon and gave it a try and found it surprisingly easy to adjust to. I even caught myself mentally preparing to 'turn the page' while reading it lying on my side in bed (sucks how you have to roll over every odd page to rest the book comfortably). Anyway, I converted all my lecture note pdfs to .mobi and carried them around on the kindle, got a few giant torrent files with 500+ ebooks of sci fi and fantasy etc, and was really getting into owning an ebook. And then one night i stood on my bed and heard a faint 'crack' noise under the sheets. FUCK. Forgot the kindle was in my bed and put my heel right into the screen, which it turns out has a really thin layer of glass beneath the top plastic film. Screen totally fucked and unreadable. I was resigned to buying another one and decided on a whim to log on to the Amazon customer support website to see if maybe I could get a discount out of pity. Talked to the support lady, told her *I* had broken the device, that I hadnt even bought it, and that the person who gave it to me had got it as a gift from a company in another country. Next thing you know she's asking for my shipping details so she can send me a free replacement! wtf! Within a week I had a new kindle turn up at my door. No charge, no 'show proof the other one is broken', no nothing. Just 'here you go, have another one'. I assume their business model is to loss lead on the device and make the profits off ebook sales. Unfortunately for them there is now a big selection of torrent ebooks available as I already discovered. I think I'll have to buy a few ebooks from them though to assage my guilt a little, given their awesome goodwill and customer service.

Anyway enough rambling, what e-readers do the rest of Twelve own? Experiences or opinions about them?
Fun
This is very aptly timed Ralphie, I literally just got a 3G/WiFi Amazon Kindle for my birthday on Tuesday.

Even in the span of three days all I can say is that it is literally the greatest thing I ever, and will ever, own. Probably underselling it there.

Considering the amount of books I purchase per month, let alone year, I'd say by having my Kindle I'll end up saying a few hundred dollars each year quite easily. I think the greatest thing about the Kindle besides the obvious pirating advantages is cool things like Whispersyncing my library to 6 other devices such as a smart phone, tablet, PC, laptop etc, so that my entire catalogue is available (even up to the page where I'm at in a specific book!) on any of those platforms. That is a huge feature imo. As well as this you get your own kindle email (mine is james.woolway@kindle.amazon.com iirc) and you can forward yourself pdf documents and have them automatically converted into .MOBI format which is the native kindle document type. It's cool shit like that which I'm in love with.

From a tangible standpoint, for me the kindle is nigh on perfect. Beautifully weighted and sized (I have the 6inch screen one, the 9inch is a little too big for travel) the contrast and quality of the screen is flawless and the layout of the buttons is basically spot on for any way you prefer to read - whether you dual hand it or spec offhand like me. And jesus, the motherfucking battery life. I doubt the Nook can compare due to it's colour screen, but iirc off one charge the Kindle gets about a month's worth of daily use or something. Brilliant.

In regards to the 3G aspect of the Kindle, I told my parents to pick me up the cheapest if they were going to get it for me for my birthday, but my mum has a bad habit of going overboard. I have to say I'm very impressed though, it's literally global 3G for a one time fee of whatever the price difference between the 2 types is. Considering I travel a little bit, I enjoy the fact that I should be able to have access to all my catalogues and kindle email as well as the Kindle Store (god forbid I have to buy a book) wherever the fuck I am.

Another pseudo-neat feature which I doubt I'll ever be gay enough to use is the social network linking which allows you to publish quotes from whatever you're reading. There is also a text-to-voice function so you can get your kindle to read to you if you're a lazy fuck.

I already downloaded NPR's top 100 (or was it 1000?) Sci-Fi/Fantasy books and have almost finished American Gods in two days, and intend on moving onto Slaughter House 5 probably by tomorrow. It allows me to indulge in so much reading, and the convenience cannot be overstated. Brilliant little fucker and the greatest gift I've probably ever received.
Ayiru
My father got me an ipad for my 29th, I am quite excited to get it, going to visit him next weekend.

I have managed to find 4 gig worth of psych text books to put on it, along with all my psych lectopia downloads. I think this thing is a must-have for anyone who can download their classes!
Moradim
Kindle seems like the most popular option that I see, although of the ones you listed I'm surprised the Kobo isn't on there - is that not in Australia? That's a new strong contender as well.
From what Fun said sounds like the Kindle is an absolute monster in the ring. I'm glad to hear that because we just bought my cousin one for his graduation from uni and it's reassuring to know how great it is and how much he'll enjoy it.

I know that eventually I will need to make the switch to paperless reading because I read a lot and hope to read more and more as I age, yet as a stupid pro-green hippie I need to save trees and whatnot. Will be a severely difficult transition but I sure won't mind not holding 1000 page volumes (thanks GRRM) over my head in bed and worrying about how much skull I will lose to dust should the thing slip from my hands.
kiral
I've compared a Kobo and Kindle side by side and the Kindle is by far the better option.

Not only is the kindle more ergonomic, but the main button on the kobo breaks fairly easily.
Fork
I use my iPad as an eReader and fucking love it. I've used it for 10+ hours on a plane trip during light and dark and never got any eye strain.
Fun
Fork wrote:
I use my iPad as an eReader and fucking love it. I've used it for 10+ hours on a plane trip during light and dark and never got any eye strain.


What's the battery life like on an ipad?
Fork
I was a bit worried about it with 17hr flights and all because it's supposed to only be a 10 hour battery life but the lowest it ever got out of constant use was 23% or something like that. In iBooks you can turn the brightness down so that must have helped. I had the iPad (books, games and music), iPhone4 (games and music) and an iPhone 3GS (full of music) to use but only ever had to use the iPad.

You can always find a power point at airports too to get in a sneaky 20 min recharge.
retsgip
ipads are nice but they're also expensive. Kindles are 140 usd, you throw all your .mobi books on there for free and read them no problem. With the ipad you have epubbud but if you know how to use the internet or a computer, you can always find or convert any book to .mobi
Fork
Yeah, if you just want an eReader the iPad is excessive due to it's price.

However if you want an eReader, games machine, music player, emails, web browser and all that jazz then it's exactly what you want.
retsgip
Yeah, exactly. Unfortunately for me, I don't have a job yet here in the good old broke USA, so I opted for another kindle since my old one broke on my eurotrip.
Fun
is the ipad really a 'games machine'? i get so bored playing iphone games it's ridiculous, i don't even think i have any installed anymore. is it that much better?
Fork
I must say it is actually quite fun if you find games you like. I've got GTA Chinatown Wars, Real Racing 2, Plants Vs Zombies, Age of Zombies, Angry Birds, the original Monkey Island games and much more on there which are all great fun to play. It's got quite an extensive catalogue of games now which is great.
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