Kindle, Nook, or iLiad? I think I’ll wait. · January 7, 2010

A lot of my friends are getting and talking about the various eReaders available on the market. While I’m not the avid reader that I’d like to be, these devices have caught my attention, and I’ve been doing some reasearch to see which I might want to buy for myself in the not too distant future. The conclusion I’ve come to is that there’s no clear best choice for me and I’m going to wait a generation or two to see how it all plays out. From the research I did looking into this for myself, here are my observations. I do realize there are other devices that I did not investigate, for reasons that either I’m unaware of them or they were too uninteresting off the bat to consider.

Amazon’s Kindle has become very popular, but I still think it has a long way to go before I give it serious consideration. On its own, it is a pretty substantial device, with the force of Amazon’s digital catalog behind it. However, the chicklet keyboard, non-user-replaceable battery, and closed-platform implementation are big showstoppers for me.

I really like Barnes & Noble’s Nook’s implementation of the open-platform Android OS, and the color touchpad screen for navigation. Being able to replace the battery is key for me too, in case I want to keep it for a number of years without upgrading according to their planned obselecence schedule… The biggest issue I see here, other than my visceral response to Barnes & Noble in general, is that their book catalog is on average more expensive to buy from than Amazon’s. These devices are supposed to be saving money in the long run, not just novelties where I’m spending the same amount for an electronic file that requires no printing or shipping as a book would.

The iLiad from iRex is more of a quiet competitor to the other two, but I can’t really look too seriously at them when they have a price point of $700.00. The appeal to the iLiad is that it’s not tied to a specific provider’s e-bookstore. The downside to that is also that it can’t read the proprietary DRM formats of either Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Right now, the best combination that would work for me is using the Nook on Amazon’s electronic catalog, but I don’t think that’s happening any time soon… Ultimately, I’m waiting for an eReader that doesn’t tether me to using a specific provider for my books. That could also be reworded as a solution where the DRM for eBooks is standardized and any eReader can be used as long as it’s certified. We’re not there yet, and I certainly have enough paper books around the house that I have yet to read, so I’ll wait.

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