After a somewhat unfulfilling jaunt through a sampling of 2nd generation of ereaders, detailed in a previous post - I have finally taken the plunge and acquired an ereader. While there has been a great amount of movement in the ereader arena, the majority of developments have been in the backlit lcd tablet category. Tablets have never interested me in the context of ebooks; I have access to iPads and while they are great for web browsing, video, and interactive apps, I don’t find them to be an attractive long-form reading platform. It is hard to beat paper.
Motivated by several factors including moving my personal library, crowded train rides, and this post over at Librarian.net, I began to seriously consider bringing an ereader into my life. The decreasing price point and increasing selection of content were meeting at a favorable point. I knew I wanted something with an eink display, worked well with library ebooks, could work with my existing epub and pdf collection, and was cheap.
My first consideration was deciding if I were going to integrate Amazon further into my life by getting a kindle. Amazon seems to be making the best hardware and has as good (or better) of a selection than anyone, but the last thing I want is to be buying/borrowing books from a single vendor. Buying a kindle would also require working primarily with their proprietary files and complicate reading ePubs and pdfs.
I know that many libraries are lending Kindle books and I know the there are a myriad of ways to convert different formats to be read on the Kindle, but it seemed too high a threshold especially when the alternative is picking up and opening a traditional book.
I next looked at the various models of the Nook ereader. Initially the nook touch was attractive; it could handle ePub and pdf natively and there was a vibrant community for rooting the device and turning it into an eink android tablet. Very cool, but I felt like I wanted it more to root into an eink tablet than to read on. Also the price andrecent discontinuation of nook hardware made me a bit hesitant.
I went on to look at a handful of cheap no-name options that largely lacked eink displays and don’t warrant any further discussion for that reason. Finally I came across the Sony Reader line.
The Sony Readers, specifically the PRS350 satisfied just about everything that I was looking for. The screen in the PRS350 is eink pearl, the same used in the most recent Kindle, there is 2gb of internal memory, and the reader isn’t tied particularly closely to any specific store/format. The reader will handle the formats that I wanted: ePub (including those with adobe DRM, like Overdrive), pdf, and txt. There is no advertising or “special offers” in amazon doublespeak, allowing the user to set a photo for the off-screen.
The two most prominent “downsides” are the lack of wifi or 3g and the lack of backlight. I suppose both of these would be nice to have but they are not essential to my use and the absence of wifi has been more of a benefit to my habits. The reader feels more like a direct book replacement rather than a tablet platform or computer replacement. I’m finding the limits imposed by a truly single tasking device is resulting in my reading much more long-form writings.
The cost for a like new used device also in just the right range to finally pull the trigger. Searching both ebay and Amazon used provided multiple buying options for under \$50.