After the editorial on the Kindle, which got quite a few responses, I've continued to look around and research things. I saw an interesting comparison with a husband and wife who have both. There are some interesting things on the Sony reader, especially in the comments, but I'm not sure it's worth it.
I wanted to write a touch more, since this is a subject that's near and dear to my heart, reading. I love to read, try to get to 50 or so books a year, often new fiction, so this makes some sense to me. I decided to browse the comments a bit and then talk about the complaints and advocates of both readers. I'll tackle the various points and then talk about both the Kindle and Reader from that point of view. Notice that I don't have either one of these, though I've used the Sony Reader at Borders for 15-20 minutes a few times to see how it looks.
Size: From what I read and see in pictures, the Kindle is substantially larger than the Sony Reader. That being said, it doesn't appear that either is that large. The screen size is the same on both, though the Kindle has the keyboard and that adds space below the screen. The Sony is a nice, fairly small size and I definitely do like that since I'd be carrying this around in a lot of places.
Both have covers and there are 3rd party ones, so the knock on the base Amazon cover doesn't make sense to me.
Cost: The Kindle is roughly US$100 more than the Sony. Right now as I write this the Kindle is $399 and the Sony is $279, and based on what I've seen from the Sony and Amazon stores, there's a $2 a book difference quite often. Neither of these is cheap, and I'm not sure why. You're locked into DRM content from these sellers and so if they sold these things for $150 and gave you some deal, like 15 books for $100, I bet lots of people would jump on this and they'd grow the business. Operating at this price level it's an early adopter mode rather than trying to build the market.
I checked on some books I've read recently or thought about buying:
- Excavation (James Rollins) - Kindle $6, Sony $6.75
- Freakonomics- Kindle $9.99, Sony $13.96
- Out Stealing Horses - Kindle $0 check June 7 , Sony -$0, not available
- The Watchman - Kindle $6.39, Sony $7.19
- Blasphemy - Douglas Preseto - Kindle $9.99, Sony $18.16
The last one disturbs me. That's a new one I saw in the store and considered buying the other day. If there were many at that price, I'd say the Kindle really wins out. If we're talking $6, 7, or more a book difference, than I'd really be thinking the $100 evaporates in months.
Dictionary: Kindle has one, you can add one to the Sony, but I'm not sure how easy it is to look things up in the Sony. I don't do this often, but I think about it and it's that I don't have a dictionary handy that I don't do it. I wonder if I'd use this more and grow my vocabulary.
Search/bookmarks: I'm not a big highlighter/bookmarker, tending to just flip to find things in the book. From what I've read this works well on the Kindle, not so well on the Sony. Might not matter for me too much.
Wireless: I don't want another computer. I have a browser on my phone if I need it, but honestly most of the time I'm not looking for a laptop. The e-reader takes the place of me carrying a BOOK, not a computer. If I think I need a computer, I'll bring one.
The Sony doesn't have anything, but the Kindle works in my area, or I'd expect it to. My wife has Sprint service and it works great. The EVDO is find with me, analog networks got turned off in 2008. I expect EVDO will be here for a long time.
Sharing: I don't really share books with people. Once in awhile I might give a book to my wife, but not to friends. If this takes off, I think we'd share things in the family only. Not really a consideration for me.
Convenience: To me the big advantage of the Kindle is that it's convenient. The wireless buying, no computer required, like if I run out of books on the road, makes this TiVo-like simple. That's what's important to many people, and to me. I hear a lot about how easy it is to grab free books, or convert them for the Sony (or any PDA).
The reality is that nothing is free. Most of the free books aren't necessarily ones I want to read, though I'm sure I could get them if I wanted. However I don't want to mess with things. My iPod is as dirt simple as it can be and I like that. If I have to manually copy things over, it has to be rarely done. It's just a hassle. If I subscribed to more periodicals, this is a no brainer.
However I do buy things in iTunes and they don't always get onto my iPod in a timely manner. I forget to plug it in, it's in the car, etc. and so I miss things. Wireless delivery, or at least that option, is very cool.
Battery Life: I see that the Sony can run 2 weeks, which is a long time. That is very tempting since I don't want to have to charge everyday, but if I can flip wireless on and off easily and get 3-4 days from the Kindle, I'd be happy with that.
Why not a PDA? - Go see the screen somewhere. It's not even close for me. I dread reading things on my phone, the e-ink looks much better.