eBook readers: 5 kindle alternatives

Posted on Friday, May 15, 2009 by Erlik

Not long ago Amazon released it's oversized Kindle DX, and I reported that it was too expensive. The only kindle alternative I suggested at the time was the Sony e-Reader priced at $299. There are however a few other eBook readers that could be excellent kindle alternatives:

The COOL-ER electronic book reader. This brightly colored eBook reader has three big advantages: its' reasonable price ($249), its beautiful ipod inspired industrial design and its support for PDF and epub formats with DRM schemes. For commercial content the device is supported by the Coolerbook library. Note that the service is also compatible with some other eBook readers such as the Sony or the Cybook, which may prove practical if you wish to change your reader in the future. With 1 Gb of integrated storage and the possibility of a storage expansion through an SD card slot this is a nice budget kindle alternative for whoever doesn't absolutely want a wireless connection on an eBook reader.

The Txtr reader connected eBook reader. This reader isn't released yet but look very promising for those who want their eBook reader to be always connected: the machine will feature bluetooth, 3G and Wifi wireless connections. The machine will support storage expansion through microSD cards. What remains to be seen is the price of this baby when it is released.

The Cybook eBook reader. This Linux based reader support a large variety of formats such as PDF, Mobipocket, HTLM, text , jpg, gif, png and mp3 for audio, but unlike the COOL-ER it doesn't support PDF DRM. It does support RSS synchronization but only through USB. Like the COOL-ER there is no wireless adapter in the machine, the synchronization is performed trough a host computer. The machine comes with 512 Mb of storage which can be expended with an SD card. This device is similar too the COOL-ER but is quite a bit more expensive at $350.

The Sony PRS-505 Portable Digital e-Readersupports PDF, plain and RTF or word formated text text as well as mp3 and AAC for audio. The usual image formats are also supported. Like the cybook and the COOL-ER, the e-reader doesn't feature any wireless connection. At the price of $299 for a device with only 192 Mb of storage this machine is less of a bargain than the Cool-er, but you get the Sony branding and warranty support. The memory can be expended with memory cards anyway. A worthy kindle alternative for those reticent to invest in a device from an unknown brand.

The iPhone or iPod Touch. Thanks to the iPhone application Stanza (recently purchase by Amazon) the iPhone and ipod touch can be turned into very decent e-book readers. Amazon even released an official kindle reader application that makes it the best kindle alternative if you already own kindle formated eBooks from Amazon. The main inconvenient is that the iPhone lack an e-ink screen, which means that reading can be less pleasant for the eyes and can be difficult in direct sunlight. The Stanza software support the epub format and lexcycle offer a wide assortment of eBooks in that format. The iPhone also supports PDFs, but you may have to email them to yourself, which is not very convenient. For more info Mobileread has a forum dedicated to Ebooks on the iPhone.

As you can see numerous options still exists for those who don't want to buy a kindle. Note that until the release of the Txtr reader the kindle remains the only wireless enabled reader with an e-ink screen. That being said, do you really need the connectivity? Is it worth the extra price of the kindle? If yes I woulds suggest going for the Kindle 2 which is still more affordable than the Kindle DX and is compatible with Amazon's whispernet.

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