Decisions, Decisions, Decisions- an E-reader for meIhaveask

I have been racking my brain over the idea of buying an e-reader for myself.  I am going overseas for 2 1/2 weeks via cruise ship and I dont relish the idea of bring books in my suitcase.  My suitcase may be on wheels, but its still heavy– and when you add books…Oy.  It also doesnt help that when I was in the sixth grade, my teacher, Mr. Westlake, taught the class how to speed read.  Yes, I can read a 200+ page book in about an hour and a half.  My book budget is a bit crazy sometimes. I don’t see packing 10+ books in my suitcase.  Between this and my usual book diet, I have decided to jump on board with the e-book craze.

I have loaded up my Macbook and Mac Mini with Kindle for Mac and Barnes & Noble e-Reader. My iPod Touch (8GB) has those apps as well plus Stanza, EReader, and a few other book apps. I have started to purchase a few ebooks from B&N and Amazon. I like the reading experience so far, but I wish I could carry it around and keep it in my lap.  I use my Macbook in my lap, but it gets too hot sometimes and I have at least one cat who wants to tap my keyboard as I write.  I’d rather something with a touchscreen that isnt catfriendly.

Ok, right now I am sure you are saying, “Why get a dedicated e-reader?  You have the apps on your computers and iPod.  Why do you need anything else?”  My boyfriend has asked me the same thing.  He uses the Kindle and Barnes & Noble apps on his Acer netbook and its happy with it.  He doesnt see a need for a separate device.

So why do I want a dedicated e-reader?  Because, I dont want to have to lug my laptop or netbook around.  I want something I can sit on my lap that doesnt weigh much. I want something simple to use.  I want something with a long battery life.  I like having unitasker hardware, because of the adage of “what happens if it breaks”. With a multitasking device, you are down a lot of services; with a unitasker, its only one.

So, since CES, I have narrowed down to three devices: the B&N nook, the Spring Design Alex, and regretably, the Apple iPad.  Yes, I know the iPad isnt a unitasker, but let me explain everything before you judge.

First, why did I rule out the Sony e-reader and the Amazon Kindle? I can’t read the Sony.  The way it presents text on the screen is hard on my eyes.  Also, every time I have tried to use one, I can’t get it to work the way I want.  Its almost difficult sometimes.  Its the same for the Kindle.  I take issue with with any e-reader that takes reading a manual to work.  I just want to open up the book and read it.  I dont want to hit 5 buttons and 3 taps…etc..etc…But, I do LOVE the content on the Kindle.  Out of all the e-readers, I think it has the best content for books and subscriptions.  I am an avid Amazon shopper. I have Amazon Prime for shipping.  I just cant make the Kindle work for me.  Its a user interface thing I guess.

So, what about my other choices?  The nook is an easy to use e-reader.  It just works. And, if I want to geek out, I can root it since it runs off Android.  I was able to test drive one at my local Barnes & Noble.  I went in with my mother, who is not as technical as I am.  If she could use it easily, I know I could.  I loved the split screen.  The color UI menu was easy to navigate.  Barnes & Noble’s selection is ok. I wish they had more subscriptions, but overall, the content is good.

The Spring Design Alex is just cool.  I used one at CES and fell in love with the device.  It was easier to use than the nook.  The screen is larger and easy to read. The menu UI in the color screen is cleaner. It has the ability to download Android apps as well as surf the Internet.  Ok, this breaks my unitasker rule, but an Android tablet device just has a lot going for it.  My one concern, the main bookstore is tied to Borders.  I love Borders.  Its my favorite brick and mortar bookstore.  However, Borders is not doing so well.  The company has closed down many of its stores.  The have also come WAY late to the e-book/e-reader game.  I am afraid that if I bought one, I wouldnt have content from Borders after a while; unless they got bought by B&N or even Amazon.

And lastly, there is the iPad.  Yes, its a tablet computer that is set to become the next iPhone of the new millennium.  But, its not a multitasker– a major complaint for everyone so far.  But, I am sure Apple will fix that issue soon enough.  Why make a device like that when their iPhones and iPod Touches are multitaskers?  Anyways, why an iPad?  Well, from everything I have read so far, its got great battery life, a good screen, and its fairly light weight.  For content, there is the new iBook bookstore.  But there is also Amazon, B&N. eReader, Fictionwise, etc…etc…etc.  How?  Well, according to all my reading, the Kindle app, B&N e-reader app, and the others all are going iPad capable.  So, this effectively triples the content and then some.  I can get my Amazon content that I love so much, without issue.  How cool is that?

I have asked the crew here at GBM there thoughts on my dilemna, and the best answer was from Sumocat.  He said in an email:

I am not a fan of e-ink. I know some people swear by it, and to each their own, but the off-white background and page refreshes completely annoy me. My years using LCD and background in color publications don’t help with that either. Hard to love a format that can’t properly display the work I’ve done. iPad wins for me.

That said, I have found both the Alex and Nook to be intuitive enough to use. The only question for me is the content. B&N is clearly ahead of Borders in this. The in-store browsing is a killer feature of the Nook, if you frequent a B&N store. Borders will catch up with their offerings, but today, of the two eReaders, I give the edge to Nook.

And then there is what Xavier said in a phone call we had the other day, “Write it up as a post on GBM and see what the readers have to say!”  So, here we are.

So GBM readers, got any advice for me?  My trip overseas is in early May so whatever I am going to buy, I have to get sometime in April.  I appreciate the advice and comments.