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2010 eBook Holiday Buying Guide, Part 2

First up, here are the known Black Friday deals for ebook readers.



Aluratek eReader

Augen (review at Engadget)

Lookbook (review at theDigital Reader)

Sony Pocket

  • Wal-mart: $99 (no touch, old model)

Nook Classic (wifi only):

  • Best Buy: $99

Second, there are three basic types of ebook readers on the market: dedicated eink readers, multifunction (such as the iPhone/iTouch/Blackberry Storm/Droid X/Android Tablet), and the hybrid (enTourage Edge, nookColor, PanDigital, Literati ).

If you aren’t sure which device to buy, take a look at the questions and answers provided last week in part 1 of the Holiday Buying Guide. This part of the guide will provide my opinion as to the best device in each class and along with alternatives.   If you can, I highly recommend taking a trip to Best Buy.   Best Buy has in stock: iPad, Kindle 3, nook, nookColor, Pandigital Reader, Cruz Tablet, Cruz Reader, Samsung Galaxy Tab.   There you can touch and feel the different devices and get a sense of which one might the best for you.

Kindle 3

1. Dedicated eInk Readers. For the money, I think the $139 Kindle 3 is the best in class. It is easy to use with right and left handed functionality.   It is lightweight.   You can use it anywhere there is wifi access. The Amazon store has the most books and the cheapest prices.   Its apps are available on the widest set of platforms and feature the sync capabilities.   You also have the added benefit of emailing yourself content.   The case with the built in reading light that runs off the power of the Kindle itself makes it easy to use at night.

Alternatives: The $139 wifi Kobo Reader is a great alternative. The Kobo Reader views ePub format which allows fans of the digital library lending. On the high end is the Sony Readers. Only the Daily Edition has wifi but they are also the only eink devices that have touch abilities. If you want 3G access, there is the 3G Kindle at $189.   I know that there are a number of nook fans who will probably be irked I don’t recommend the nook Classic, but I find the nook Classic to be heavy and unintuitive and the people that I know that have both the nook Classic and the Kindle 3 use the Kindle 3.


2. Multifunction devices. At $499, the iPad wifi is the best in this class currently. The 16GB iPad with wifi allows you to buy from Borders, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Kindle. It reads secure PDFs and ePubs using Bluefire App (and thus you can use the iPad for borrowing digital books from the library).   The iPad is a mini computing unit.   You can hook up a keyboard and create documents, including editing Word documents.   There are video and audio capabilities as well as numerous games.   What makes the iPad so powerful are the numerous apps that have been developed for it.

Alternatives: Samsung Galaxy Tab at $599 is smaller and runs Android. There are Kobo, Borders, Nook, and Kindle Apps for Android.   Android also runs Flash whereas iPad does not. (Note: Hulu does not work on the Android platform yet).

One of the big drawbacks of the iPad for reading is the size. It is very difficult to read in bed and almost impossible to read with one hand because of the weight and size. Of course, the larger size makes it great for reading PDFs. The 16 GB 3G & wifi Samsung Galaxy Tab without a cellular contract costs $599. A 16 GB iPad with 3G & wifi is $629. The Samsung Galaxy Tab comes with cameras whereas the iPad does not.   The Samsung Galaxy Tab also offers you the benefit of external memory slot and the iPad does not.   External memory is fairly inexpensive these days.   In all, if the 7″ screen is preferable, the Samsung Galaxy Tab might be for you. Review from Walt Mossberg here.

The iTouch is smaller yet and runs nearly everything that the iPad runs. For the phones, iPhone and Android devices like the Droid X are your best bet. Have heard nothing but negative things about the Blackberry Storm.


3. Hybrid devices. This is a much more difficult call because with a hybrid device you are making sacrifices for price but at $250 the nookColor appears to be best in class. I’ll have a more full review of this on Tuesday, but I have tested both the Cruz Reader and the nookColor and the screen and responsiveness on the nookColor is superior. Only the reader can decide whether that is worth the $50 difference. I bought the Cruz Reader for review, but I could barely stand to use it for more than a few minutes because the touchscreen required strong pressure in order for commands like page turns or typing to be recognized. I think readers will be happy having spent the extra $50 to get the nookColor but going to a store like Borders or Best Buy and trying out the Cruz Reader will be helpful in making the decision. Best Buy has both the nookColor and the CruzReader along with the Pandigital Reader and the Literati.

This may not be a big issue but nookColor can access ATT Wifi hotspots but it is not free like the nook Classic wifi access.

Alternatives: Literati (this is a popular Black Friday item) is powered by the Kobo store. You can see a review of it here. The basic drawback of the Literati is the screen resolution and the resistive touchscreen.   The reviews of the Literati have been very poor.   The nookColor, Samsung Galaxy Pad, and iThings all have capacitative touch screens. One of the advantage of the Literati is that it is a cheap wifi color unit. Weirdly, though, despite having a keyboard the Literati doesn’t allow you to take notes.

The Entourage Edge is an interesting as it combines eink on one side and color on the other.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Tweets that mention 2010 eBook Holiday Buying Guide, Part 2 | Dear Author --
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 08:14:15

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dara Edmondson, dearauthor. dearauthor said: NewPost: 2010 eBook Holiday Buying Guide, Part 2 […]

  2. DS
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 09:44:38

    I’ve been watching the Edge– well, for no reason other than the fact I’m a gadgetphile. Amazon has the spiffy red one (10.1″) for $498 and a smaller one (7″) for $377. I’m going to take another look after I add up all my Amazon gift cards from holiday spending.

  3. Melanie
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 10:23:06

    I’m considering which is the best ereader for a friend. She is significantly visually impaired (diabetic retinopathy) and currently reads on the Kindle app on the iPhone with the font size enlarged -and- with a lighted 4x magnifying glass. I recall, Jane, that you mentioned the light on the Kindle 3 lighted case didn’t completely illuminate the entire page. Have you found a light that works better? I know the iPad is another viable option but, in terms of gift-giving, there’s a big difference in price. This friend will want something easy to use and she shops almost exclusively at Amazon; hence, these two options.

    Has anyone with visual impairments used the new Kindle and can you offer feedback on it? (My friend is having eye surgery tomorrow so it may be that the lighting requirement will not be as essential as it is now.)

  4. Jane
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 10:26:11

    @Melanie Did I say that? no, the light illuminates the whole page, it is just brighter at the top than the bottom. At the $139 price point, it is probably your best bet. There are some other alternatives that she could use for lighting like this one that clips to the top of a case.

  5. Melanie
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 10:55:22

    Sorry, guess I misinterpreted. I just recall thinking at the time that if the light wasn’t sufficiently bright on the entire page that it might not work for my friend. Perhaps I’ll make that trip to Best Buy you suggested and see if I can play with one in person. The light you linked to looks like is has potential. I’ll consider that, as well. Too bad there’s not a slim light that runs the vertical length of the screen and illuminates from the side(s) as that seems like it would be more consistent across the page. Hmmm… Or maybe she could clip another light at the bottom in addition to the top light.


  6. Estara
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 16:11:39

    @Melanie: The only thing I can say, as someone who has genetic problems with her right cornea and some good and some bad days, is that you need to get her an eInk device, because the backlit monitors will start huring her eyes after some time.

    Being not in the US, I don’t own a Kindle, but a Sony, and the eInk as well as the enlarging of fonts have been enough for me ^^.

    Good luck to your friend!

  7. Toby O'Day
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 21:45:10

    Amazon Kindle just published my new novel, The Seventh Wish! It’s a story for young adults about developing a sense of self, personal priorities and compassion.

    Synopsis: Julian captures a magical horseshoe. He is assigned by the Leprechaun Council the responsibility of granting a selfish wish to six strangers. The last wish, the seventh wish, must be his selfish wish. Not only must he choose who receives the wishes, he must also keep the golden horseshoe away from the evil trolls. Julian and his leprechaun companion, Lawrence, travel from coast to coast to fulfill the ancient legacy of the wishes and learn the many powers of the golden horseshoe.

  8. Melanie
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 22:36:36

    @Estara: Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like the Kindle is the way to go. My primary concern with it has been the lighting issue – if I can ensure the whole screen is lit very well, I think it will work well for her.

  9. meoskop
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 22:58:16

    Depending on inventory, Toys R Us has been clearing the Sony Pocket out at $99 for a while now. I think they’re featuring it in an upcoming ad, but the price is valid at my local store (South Florida) now.

  10. Terry Odell
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 09:40:29

    I got my NOOKcolor on Saturday and have been running it through its paces. There’s never going to be the ‘perfect’ e-reader for everyone — after all, we have print books in hard cover, large print, mass market, trade, and that funky tall-skinny paperback. You have to decide which features make a reader work for you.

    I’ve given my first impressions of my NOOKcolor on my blog, Terry’s Place, today

    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist–of Mystery

  11. Lynnd
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 10:00:31

    @meoskop: Hi Melanie. I also have a vision impairment (congenital cataracts and had my surgeries before lens implants were available). I use the Kobo reader (eink) and with the font scalinge (5 different settings) available, I have no problems with this device. I do not use a book light of any kind at this point, just the regular lights in my house. As @Estarra mentioned, I like the eink screen better because it has no backlighting and my eyes do not get tired as quickly as they do with a backlit screen. FWIW, my optomitrsit was of the opiinnion that a backlit screne would be better for my vision problems, but it really isn’t.

  12. Author On Vacation
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 14:39:51

    So far, I am quietly, cautiously happy with my Nookcolor. I bought it as a supplemental device for my Nook because there are times I need a backlight. I still prefer Nook classic for regular reading where light deficiencies aren’t an issue.

    With that said, I use NookColor as an ereader. Nothing more. I’ve read several complaints from dissatisfied customers who expected an iPad competitor. That just isn’t what this is.

  13. Brian
    Nov 23, 2010 @ 16:15:51

    Here’s another “Black Friday” deal for you. Amazon has just announced on their Twitter feed that they will have a limited number of 2nd Generation Kindles for sale starting Friday at 9am PST for $89 each. This is the Kindle that has the same Viziplex screen as the Nook and most other current eInk readers (except the new Kindle and newest Sony’s).

  14. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Hmm. This was supposed to be a short linkity post, due to my long holiday weekend. FAIL.
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 19:56:58

    […] might be best for the ereader newbie. TeleRead has some thoughts on that, too. Dear Author has the second part of their ebook reader holiday buying guide, including links to Black Friday […]

  15. De
    Dec 09, 2010 @ 19:38:11

    December 7th, Overdrive, updated their Apple and Android apps. Android devices and iThings can now read Overdrive library ebooks.

    Their blog entry, with images and directions is:

  16. Illuminated Magnifying Glass With Light
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 10:07:05

    Illuminated Magnifying Glass With Light

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