This seems to be the year of the e-Reader. While I'm still a confirmed paper addict, the newest generation of e-Readers is getting close to changing my mind.
I've been reading e-books on my PC and on my Palm (don't laugh) for years now, so I do have some experience with ebooks, but I've never really considered them a good substitute for the real thing. Still, with some books coming out only as ebooks (also those that are out of print or the stuff at the Gutenberg project), these readers are becoming more valuable, even as their prices decline. So, here are some of my thoughts on the current options:
- Kindle has done the most to popularise the category, largely based on Amazon's being the largest single bookseller in the world. They have done almost everything right with this, from making it very easy to buy books, to updating the hardware regularly and significantly.
- Sony, Nook, and Kobo seem to be the next level of players, mostly because of the bookstore advantage which Amazon has - even over Border's and Barnes & Noble. Still, their hardware is basically on a par with the Kindle line.
- Apple's iPad seems like a reasonable alternative - even sporting a Kindle app - but while it can read lots of ebook formats, the battery life and the reading experience using a backlit LCD panel is a bit sub-optimal.
- WiFi and USB are more than adequate for getting books into a reader - 3G is probably nice, but shopping on your Kindle seems a lot less convenient than shopping on your PC, which means you can order there and either WiFi it in or USB it in.
I'd go with the latest Kindle WiFi version. It has a 6" screen (nice e-ink for reading anywhere paper would have worked), can store more books than my living room shelves (at least I think so, I'll have to count them up when I get home), and has battery life to spare.
If you feel the need for 3G, it's only $50, but I'd rather spend that on some books or a case and light.
There you have it - Enjoy!