Monday, January 23, 2012
What's in an Ereader? Kindle vs. Sony vs. MiGear
I have had the opportunity to use a few different types of ereaders in the past few weeks and I thought I'd share my opinion with you. The versions I had available were not the latest and greatest, and some features were not functioning so this a bit like comparing apples to oranges to mangos, but we'll give it a go anyway. All of these ebooks offer features like storage and mp3 capabilities. I'm not going to focus on those, simply on the reading function.
First up the Sony Ereader. This is probably my favorite of the three, but that may just be because it is the most familiar to me. I've owned the ereader for about two and a half years now. The Sony is not backlit which makes battery life last longer. The version I happen to use is not wi-fi enabled, but I have no problem transferring books from my computer to the ebook and I know the current version available for sale does have wi-fi built in. The Sony has a limited memory, but with an SD card your ebook's memory can be fairly limitless. I am currently experiencing a problem with my Sony though. The text on half of the first two lines is no longer visible. I'm not sure if that is due to age/usage, or perhaps due to the extreme heat we sometimes have here. But overall I love my Sony. My score on the Sony would be a 4 out of 5.
Next up the MiGear. This is an inexpensive Chinese ereader widely available in Australia where I reside. I recently purchased a used MiGear. The MiGear is a pretty basic model. It is also not wi-fi capable and also requires an SD card for memory because it's memory is pretty much non-existent. The big problem with the MiGear is battery life. The MiGear has a backlit screen which really chews up energy. It is reported to have a battery life of 8 hours before needing to be recharged. With my used version (I got it cheap) I get about two hours out of it before it shuts down on me. One really nice feature of the MiGear which brings it up from a potential score of one is that it is a color screen so it works really well for reading magazines. My husband loves that bit. My score on the MiGear is about a 2 out of 5.
And lastly,the Kindle. I liked the Kindle pretty well. It is not backlit and the battery life was comparable to the Sony. I didn't get to try out the wi-fi on this one as it was borrowed from my local library who has deregistered it, but I'm guessing it is pretty efficient. Like most ereaders it offers several different font-size options, but the one thing that impressed me with the Kindle is that it has an option to have your ebook read to you aloud. That feature wasn't without bugs. It can't tell the context of words so it can't distinguish between read and read (I like to read as opposed to I read that book), and the voice is very electronic sounding, but still a really nice feature. I've also heard raves about the Kindle from many friends as well. So my score on the Kindle is a 4 out of 5 as well.
Now on to my big pet peeve regarding ebooks in general and Amazon in particular. I hate hate HATE that Amazon has locked down the Kindle market so tightly. Sure you can get books for your Kindle from other sources. But if you want to buy ebooks from Amazon you can only get them in Kindle format. Since Amazon is a major retailer of ebooks this kind of bites from a consumer perspective. Of course they want you to buy their Kindle, and yes, I realize they do make free Kindle apps for your PC and for various smart phones so that those who don't own a Kindle can read their books, but I'd really love to see them open up their ebook market to formats other than Kindle.
Yes, I do know there are websites that offer the ability to change an ebook format from Kindle to other formats, but they don't always work.
In conclusion, I currently own a Sony ereader, and a MiGear, and do have plans to buy a Kindle. For now I use the Kindle for PC app to read Kindle books. Truthfully, I still prefer a paper book. I just love the way it feels in my hands. I love flipping pages. I love everything about them. I don't think I'll ever give up my paper books entirely, but ebooks are just so darn convenient that I read paper books much less than I used to.