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The Kindle Is Still The Way To Go
Over the past six months or so, I've been doing a lot of research and thinking about e-readers, and I have a really large write-up in the works about them, but I want to go ahead and share the conclusions since I know you might want one or be thinking about getting one for someone. I don't know when I'll finish the write-up - I hope soon - but I didn't want it to come too late.
So that I can make this post short(er) and get it out there, I'm going to tailor it for people who are already considering getting an e-reader. The write-up will include a section that discusses why you might want an e-reader.
Kindle or nook?
If you've been thinking about getting an e-reader, you know that Amazon's Kindles are the devices to get. You've probably also heard about Barnes and Noble's (B&N) nook and the waves that it's causing. I was just about to buy a Kindle when the nook came out, so that sent me into another round of research and comparison.
When the dust cleared, the Kindles still came out on top. The future write-up will cover much more, but there's one thing that clinched the deal for me. Since I started the my research, I've been keeping a wishlist of all the books I wanted to read that were available on the Kindle. Until I made my mind up, I wasn't going to buy a book that was available on the Kindle, and this process also gave me a good idea of how a Kindle might fit into my actual usage.
When the nook came out, one of my biggest questions was about the availability of books at B&N. Both sites advertise millions of books, and obviously, I wasn't going to try to compare book to book. So I simply cross-referenced my Kindle list with B&N's digital store. After all, what I really cared about is if they had the books I wanted to read.
Of the 26 books on my Kindle list, B&N only had 10 available for the nook. I don't want a fancy Android-based paperweight - I want to buy a device that allows me to read the books I want to read. What good is a device that allows you to download books in a minute if they only have half the books you might want to download?
Sure, B&N might be able to catch up, but they're having enough publishers bail on them because of their much-touted lending feature that it's unlikely. To be fair, I didn't do a reverse cross-reference for B&N, so there may be books available from B&N that aren't available from Amazon.
Kindle 2 or Kindle DX
After I figured out that the nook was definitely not for me, I had one final decision to make: which Kindle should I get?
The Kindle (K2 - since this is the second generation) is the baby of the two, and it weighs in at $259. The Kindle DX (DX) is the deluxe version and it'll set you back $489. That's quite a difference in price, and to make a long story short, I went with the K2.
When I got it, I immediately knew that I had made the wrong choice for my needs. What Amazon does a horrible job of telling you is what the actual screen size of the K2 is - what does 6" diagonal mean? Here's what it means: the screen is ~3.5 inches wide by 4.75 inches tall. Your effective reading area is about the size of a notecard by the time you count margins.
I used the K2 for a few days to see if I would like reading on the e-ink paper, and it turns out that though it's a different reading experience, it's not better or worse. It's just different. More on this in the next section.
Because I knew that I'd be doing a write-up and I didn't want people to have my same experience, I ordered a DX so that I could have a side-by-side comparison. When it got here, I had the exact opposite feeling - it was dead-on right for me.
There's a huge difference between the DX and the K2. The DX's screen size is as big as the entire body of the K2, measuring in at ~5.5 inches wide by ~8 inches tall. The text can breathe and you actually get more words per screen than you get on a page of a book. Even better is that PDFs are readable without conversion, and being able to read PDF ebooks was a major draw for me in the first place.
If you're an avid reader who will be doing most of your reading at home, the DX is definitely worth the additional cost. There are refurbished versions available for $400, so that takes the bite off the price, but there's no way around the fact that it's more expensive than we'd like it to be. I'd go as far as to say that you'd be better off to hold off and save up for it rather than going the cheaper route and getting a K2.
However, if you do a lot of traveling and want to have something that'll fit easily in a purse or a backpack, the K2 might be a better choice. Given that Amazon now has software that allows you to read your books on your PC and will soon have that software for Macs, you might find that it fits better for you to have a portable way to read rather than having the DX as your dedicated reading device. Update: The new version of the DX now has an international version, so there's no difference between getting a K2 or a DX for people who either live or travel abroad.
Since the DX arrived at my door, I have not once been interested in reading on the K2. Since I have an iPhone and there's Kindle for iPhone, I read on that when I'm on the go, and the difference between reading on the K2 as opposed to the iPhone isn't as big as you might think - it's not big enough to make me want to carry the iPhone and the K2.
One last thing...
What's The Reading Experience Like?
A lot of people aren't interested in an e-reader because they have an emotional attachment to books and they think that reading on an electronic device just won't be the same. It's not the same - but I don't think that it's necessarily worse.
What I'll have to say is that the reading experience on the DX and the K2 is dramatically different. For me, the K2 never really kept up with my reading pace and I knew that I was reading on an electronic device by the sheer fact that I was clicking every few seconds. When I get into reading on the DX, though, I soon forget that I'm reading on an electronic device.
That said, there are some downsides to the experience. I flip through sections of a book frequently and read in multiple passes, and it's easier to do that in real books since the Kindle tries to keep your place. Pages in real books have a life and feel on their own, and there are some books that just don't feel right on either Kindle - the Tao Te Ching comes to mind.
It's hard to be more of a book person than I am, and it's telling that I was reading one real book I bought recently that has a Kindle version - hey, I didn't want to wait! - and found myself wanting to read it on my DX. I've since bought the Kindle version, too.
Angela also happens to be a book-lover, too, so we bought a book for her to read on both the Kindles to see what here experience was like. She started on the K2, like I did, but soon moved to the DX. I didn't get the DX back for a few days as she devoured the book. Her assessment is the same as mine: reading on the DX is a great alternative to real books, but the K2 is a bit cramped.
There's More Coming...
My longer write-up will be much more comprehensive and will cover things from the ground up. It's clear to me that e-readers aren't for everybody, but they are great for a lot of people who might otherwise dismiss them.
One thing that I recommend you do before you get too far into the research process is to figure out what you're reading, how quickly you read, and where you're getting your materials from. If you read popular fiction that you get from the library and go through 6-8 books a month, an e-reader will likely not be for you. If you're like me and read a lot of reference non-fiction that's hard to find at your local library, it may be just the thing that helps you get your hands on information without wasting a lot of time requesting and waiting for books and/or spending more money than you'd have to.
Despite the fact that I'll be covering more, I hope this post gives those of you who are sitting on the fence enough information to make an informed decision. There's no need for you to go through all the research I've done. If it does help you, I'd really appreciate it if you'd buy your Kindle using my affiliate links - it'll cost you the same and give me a nice gift, too. For the K2, use this link, and for the DX, use this link.
The links to the products available from Amazon in this post are affiliate links and this review falls under my review guidelines. Please purchase them by using my link if this review helps you make an informed purchase. Thanks!