There was a viral BBC article appearing on news sites all over the world a few weeks ago. A 13 year old boy was asked to swap his second generation iPod Nano for his dad’s 30 year old Sony Walkman for a week and compare the two. The resulting article was hilarious, the poor lad had no idea what he was dealing with, it apparently took him a full day to figure out that he had to physically eject the tape cassette and manually turn it over to listen to more music!
With the steady growth of the ebook reader industry one has to wonder if 30 years from now some teenage child will struggle to read a paperback book without pushing a back/forward button. Although not quite as mass market as the iPod just yet, the popularity of the e book reader is growing.
For most people the first ebook reader line that springs to mind for most people is the Amazon Kindle line. The Amazon Kindle 2 fixed many of the annoying little faults that the original Kindle had and is a real pleasure to handle and to read. The Amazon DX is the newest addition to line, its 9+ inch screen being designed more for textbook use than anything else, with Amazon envisioning that in the very near future they will be able to allow the average student to give up their bulky book bags in favor of an Amazon Kindle 2.
The Kindle is far from the only good ebook reader line on the market though. Its biggest competitor is the Sony E Book reader. The Sony PRS 505 and the Sony PRS -700 both match up to the Kindle line in almost every aspect with the exception of internal memory, a battle which the Kindle is winning by a mile (512MB for the top of the range Sony PRS-700 versus 4GB for the Amazon Kindle DX). The consumer does pay for that memory capacity however as the Amazon Kindle DX currently retails at a full $ 100 higher than the Sony PRS – 700.
There are other good contenders in the field too. A company that was previously best known for their security cameras Astak has a three model line of E book readers called the Mentor line that make the same great use of the E Ink technology that makes the big boys so popular but for a price that is a little more reasonable. The Iliad lets the user make physical marks on the electronic page, a useful feature for students and academics.
While there are few differences in hardware between many of these e book readers the issue of available content may be the biggest reason that the Amazon Kindle 2 is still leading the pack. There are 1000′s of free titles available for download to all ebook readers but these are not the popular best sellers that most of us want to read at least once in a while. Such content is DRM protected and some e book readers do not support the format. Others like the Iliad are tied to the mobypocket system which while it has 40,000 titles available is still nowhere as near as extensive as the content offered for the Kindle 2.
Price is still an object for many who would like to try an e book reader but have yet to. With the most inexpensive versions still costing as much if not a little more than the top of the line iPod touch it may still be awhile before e book readers become as much of a familiar site as an iPod or MP3 player.
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