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12-07-2010, 01:42 PM
What You Need to Know When Buying an E-Book Reader


E-book reader options are better than ever for digital bookworms. Here are our favorites.

If you want to enjoy a good digital book, newspaper or magazine (yes even a magazine) an e-book reader is a smart choice. Prices have plunged this year, and the E Ink screens on many of these devices have improved somewhat, which means the options are better than ever for digital bookworms.

E-book readers donít snatch as many headlines as other gadgets, but the market is flooded with options. Some of these models are superb, while many could be classified as atrocious. Weíll focus first on the industryís four front-runners, then have a look at the options that will color your buying decision.
Amazon Kindle

The Kindle is the best-selling reader, and is part of a whole ecosystem of Amazon-provided e-books and software, so you can read the same books on your PC, smartphone or Kindle. Though expensive in its earlier generations, the latest iteration sports a budget price, great connectivity options and a wide selection thanks to Amazonís Kindle store.

Flagship model: Kindle 3 (3G)
Supported formats: TXT, AZW, PDF, HTML, Mobipocket
Hidden perk: Amazon has a free service that converts HTML pages and Word documents to a Kindle-friendly format.
Price: $190 (with 3G and Wi-Fi)
Barnes & Noble Nook

B&N entered the e-reading fray with its Nook. Despite mixed reviews of the Android-powered interface, the color touchscreen, large e-book selection and cross-promotions with the brick-and-mortar stores are clear high points.

Storefront: Nookbook Store
Flagship model: Nook Color
Supported file formats: eReader PDB, ePUB, PDF
Hidden perk: Connecting the Nook to B&Nís in-store WiFi grants you an hourís worth of reading of any e-book title.
Price: $250 (Wi-Fi only)
Sony Reader

Sonyís middling e-readers havenít exactly been critical darlings, but theyíre still solid and dependable. Sturdy, compact chassis and daylight-viewable E-Ink displays are the norm across models.

Storefront: Sony Reader Store
Flagship model: Sony Reader: Daily Edition
Supported file formats: TXT, PDF, ePUB, BBeB Book, RTF, DOC
Hidden perk: Protected PDF and ePUB allows users to check out e-books from participating libraries.
Price: $250
Apple iPad

Yes, we know the iPad is a tablet, not a dedicated eReader, but itís still a viable option for reading books. On top of launching an iTunes-esque bookstore, Apple has lent the iPad its UI razzle-dazzle, making for one of the most polished e-reading interfaces.

Storefront: iBooks
Flagship model: iPad 3G (32GB)
Supported file formats: ePUB, PDF
Hidden perk: iBooks comes with a free copy of Winnie-the-Pooh.
Price: $730
Format Wars

Like the rest of the gadget world, e-readers are in the midst of their own format war. Luckily, itís less contentious than most. While some devices support proprietary and DRM-locked file formats (like Amazonís AZW for the Kindle), almost all readers also embrace standards like plain text (TXT), Adobeís portable document format (PDF) and HTML.

Unfortunately, the most ubiquitous e-book format, EPUB, is not supported by the most popular e-book reader, the Kindle. Almost every other e-reader supports this open standard, but Amazon has balked, preferring to push its own format ó which, of course, no other e-book reader can utilize.

Before deciding on a reader, itís worth exploring its supported formats and the preferences of its associated storefront. After all, spending an arm and a leg on a virtual library you canít read is pointless.

Much more at the link.

Wired (http://www.wired.com/reviews/2010/11/review_bg_ebookreaders/)