Much of the hype around the iPad has been its anticipated primacy in the eBook reader market. However, although the iBookstore will doubtless be a smooth unit, the iPad does not have an e-ink screen. These devices do, which means they reduce eyestrain and have phenomenal battery life. They’re all real page-turners…
Read below for our eBook readers: Six of the best
Best… For holiday reads
COOL-ER eBook reader
There are no frills like Wi-Fi or a keyboard to entertain here, just MP3 playback – maddeningly via a 2.5mm jack only – and Sudoku. Still, text looks very clear on the six-inch screen, the four-way controller offers nippy navigation and it has its own eBook store. The 1GB of storage is enough for 800 books, there’s a SD slot should you need more, and the battery lasts for 8,000 page turns. It supports 19 file types including PDF and ePub which can be easily transferred from a PC or Mac. The Cool-er may be light on features, but it’s a solid option. Brightly-coloured, too.
Love Compact, easy to use, own eBook store.
Hate Lacks stand-out features. Feels cheap.
Best… File support
Text looks sharp on the Story’s e-ink screen, but page turns are sluggish – the slowest on test. You can transfer up to 1,500 books, including PDF and ePub files, to the 2GB memory – an SD slot is also included – via Adobe Digital Editions and Microsoft Office docs are also supported. With a sturdy build and QWERTY keyboard, the Story is similar to the Kindle, except there’s no Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity. You do get a comic book viewing mode, support for MP3 and WMA files and a voice recorder, but other e-readers do more and cost less.
Love Wide file support. QWERTY keyboard.
Hate Overly expensive. Requires you to install Adobe Digital Editions.
Best… for simplicity
The Elonex has a solid if uninspiring spec sheet. There’s 512MB of internal storage for hundreds of books and an SD slot for thousands more, a six-inch screen and support for TXT, ePub and PDF files. text is sharp and legible from different angles and file transfer has plug-and-play simplicity. You get a standard 8,000 page turns from the battery. It’s a lightweight 180g, but not as durable as the Kindle or Story, nor as responsive as the Kindle or Opus. The black body at least makes a change from regulation white.
Love Lightweight. Sharp screen. Stylish casing.
Hate Limited features. Often slow to respond to commands.
The Cybook opus is the smallest, most portable reader here and while there’s no space for a keyboard, you do get a microSD slot and 1GB of storage for 1,000 books. the five-inch screen is big enough to read comfortably, with text rotating automatically between landscape and portrait mode. The Opus is one of the fastest responding e-readers on test, although it can’t compete with the Sony’s excellent touchscreen. there’s no MP3 support or 3.5mm jack, but most file types are accepted, including HTML, TXT, ePub and PDF. For £200 it’s a tad basic, though.
Love Compact and easy to use. Rotating screen.
Hate Lack of features. Cheap-feeling buttons.
Best… for touchscreen addicts
SONY READER TOUCH EDITION
The Sony PRS-600 is the only eBook reader to have a touchscreen, and its sterling six-incher is quick and intuitive, but also prone to reflections and harder to read in dim light. The 512MB storage holds 350 books, with Memory Stick and SD slots for more. Generous file support includes ePub, BBeB, Adobe PDF and TXT, downloadable via PC or Mac using eBook software or plug and play. However, the touchscreen is as much a curse as a blessing, and without 3G or Wi-Fi Sony can’t quite compete with the Kindle.
Love Touch interface. Dual memory card slots. Extensive file support.
Hate Reflective screen. Less internal storage than most. No 3G or Wi-Fi.
Best… Overall Quality
The Kindle has built-in 3G, providing wireless access to Amazon’s extensive – 330,000 titles and counting – book, newspaper and magazine store. Order a book and it downloads within a minute, billing your Amazon account. Text is clear on the six-inch screen. There’s 2GB of internal storage – about 1,500 books – but no card slot and extra features include a keyboard and text-to-speech. There’s support for PDF, TXT, MP3 and Word files, but not the open-source ePub format. Note: the Kindle is only available from the US. Import is easy, but by no means inexpensive.
Love 3G connectivity. Amazon store access.
Hate Expensive. No ePub.