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GBM InkShow: Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader Digital Book Head to Head



  One of the best things I’ve purchased in quite some time was an e-book reader, namely the Amazon Kindle. Being new to the electronic book area, I have found the experience to be quite enjoyable. Sierra, on the other hand, has been using an e-book reader for a long time, namely the Sony Reader Digital Book, and has picked up on the subtle differences between Sony’s Reader Digital Book and Amazon’s Kindle. She used my Kindle for several weeks, and came away with some interesting observations. By the way, it is worth mentioning that I almost didn’t get my Kindle back….

In this InkShow, Sierra and I take them both on a head-to-head comparison, looking at screens, navigation, buttons, contrast, and the book buying experience.

  • Download the high res version ( wmv, 13:30, 103mb )
  • Watch the embedded version below



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  1. keacat

    10/21/2008 at 10:19 pm

    I am curious what your experience with the kindle’s wireless internet. is it difficult to find a place with whispernet or does it work in any place with an open wireless internet access. also, if you are in an area without wireless internet, but instead any type of internet that requires a cable, are you able to connect the kindle to your computer or directly to the internet with an Ethernet cable or do you have to go find a place with internet. I ask this because I do not have wireless internet where I live. Do I have to find a place with wireless to access the kindle store? Can I buy it through my computer? Perhaps I could turn on my laptop’s wifi capabilities and have kindle connect through that. what do you think?

  2. Rob Bushway

    10/21/2008 at 10:29 pm

    You can buy the books on your computer and then transfer them using a cable if the Whispernet service isn’t working in your area or you live overseas.

    It does not use WiFi, it uses the Sprint Whispernet service, so you don’t need WiFi

  3. Walt

    10/22/2008 at 5:14 pm

    keakat, The Kindle communicates on a cellular network, specifically Sprint’s cellular network. It does not rely on Wi-Fi, and in fact, does not even support Wi-Fi. So you will have network access in any place that is served by Sprint PCS. Apparently Sprint also has roaming agreements with some other carriers because people in many Sprint dead zones report that their Kindles work just fine. The Kindle can also connect to a computer via USB cable.

  4. sue

    10/24/2008 at 3:14 pm

    Do you need to have sprint service to use the wispernet? If so how much would that cost?

  5. pam morrell

    10/28/2008 at 7:28 am

    does this have audio capabilities????

  6. Rob

    10/28/2008 at 7:40 am

    the sprint service is included – no need to buy anything extra

    yes, you play back audio books and music on the kindle

  7. Pam Morrell

    10/29/2008 at 2:00 pm

    I have watched the video on the Kindle and no where do they say you can “listen” to a book! Please confirm that you can! I hope whispernet is in the Charlotte area!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Rob

    10/29/2008 at 2:26 pm


    The kindle has a headphone port for listening to music and audio books. In addition, Amazon’s Kindle support page confirms it:

  9. Jack

    11/08/2008 at 7:30 am

    I don’t know how she can say this device is easier to hold than the Sony e-book. I find the functionality with page turn features on both sides of the Kindle to be extremely inconvenient. I am constantly unintentionally turning the page. It is quite frustrating and a big disadvantage hen compared to the Sony e-book!

  10. Dayhalk

    12/02/2008 at 9:55 am


    Amazon will pay the whispernet for you so you do not have to worry about it.

  11. charles

    12/05/2008 at 11:05 am

    It is great because you can received service, books whatever you want to order thru a regular cell style connection…you don’t need to find a location with wireless ect. It has worked everywhere for me…I’ve never had a connectiion problem.

  12. Sonja

    12/10/2008 at 12:19 pm

    I have returned my Kindle after 3 different units were sent to me. The first experienced a screen failure, and the other 2 failed to consistently connect to the whispernet. After many calls, their tech support could not explain why my unit was having such trouble connecting, but they appeared to want to blame the presence of my home Wi-fi network as “interference.” Problem is, we live in a wi-fi world! Escaping wi-fi range is more work than connecting via USB. I returned it for a refund (be warned, there was some sort of re-stocking fee because over 90 days had lapsed since original purchase – days spent trying to get the Kindle to work!) and so I am waiting for a version 2.0 that has 1) a whispernet that works consistently and 2) a backlight feature since I read in bed and want to turn off my bedside lamp as a courtesy to my husband. (possible 3, the silly buttons inadvertantly clicking when you pick up and hold the device is more an irritant than a major change requirement for me)

  13. Richard

    12/11/2008 at 11:08 am

    Wow. I’m surprised you had such a bad experience. I really love my Kindle, which I received in June. It has worked perfectly. I have had no Wi-Fi interference. Initially, I didn’t like holding the unit because I pressed buttons inadvertently. However, I keep the Kindle in its cover and Velcroed (verb?) for security. I have downloaded and read tens of books and find it to be really terrific. I’d say “give it another chance,” but you clearly have had multiple problems. I don’t know what to tell you. Bummer.

  14. Josefina

    12/11/2008 at 7:19 pm

    Hi, I am a loyal client of Amazon’s, as I am a university lecturer and need lots of books to keep updated every term. But I am sick about the shipping prices -often bigger than the books´- so, I am looking forward to get a kindle device. Sadly, Amazon does not ship kindles to Mexico, where I live. My questions are: if a ask an american friend to buy it for me and she brings it to me in her next trip, will it work here in terms of connectivity? The lady on the video said she could download a book at Mexico City Airport, which sounds great. We have a good mobile phone connectivity all aronund the country, does it matter? Could I purchase books from Amazon using my kindle? Otherwise, may I shop as usual from my PC and then, transfer the file to the kindle just for reading it? I was about to buy a Sony Reader, but the prices at theirr ebook store are really scary! They cannot compete with Amazon’s prices and savings really matter to me. I’ll appreciate your comments.

  15. Angela

    12/17/2008 at 6:28 pm

    I don’t know why your whispernet doesn’t work. It always works for me even if i am using wi-fi. And I’ve been traveling all over US since for close to 2 years now. I’ve been to about 35 states since I got my Kindle and it works fine everywhere I go. It even worked in a vacation ranch in Montana and on the ferry to Catalina Island. Although it took a while to connect.

    Yes you can have your friend buy it for you. Or if you can’t wait, buy it if you have a credit card issued by a US bank, ship it to your friend’s address and then have your friend ship it to you. You need to have a US bank account or US credit card to buy the Kindle and its digital content.

    You can have your friend open your account for you in his/her name, if you trust this friend. And just transfer funds there from your Mexican bank account. Then you can buy the Kindle and the content.

    I am here in the Philippines now and I opened a Bank of America account while I was in New York and I just transfer money from my bank here in the Philippines to my BofA account so I can continue to buy Kindle books.

    Anyway, I think the whispernet only works in US. You have to buy the books online and just transfer it to your Kindle via USB. It’s really easy, I’ve bought about 50 books already while I was here in the Philippines and just downloaded it to my laptop and then to my Kindle.

  16. Jim Price

    01/13/2009 at 12:28 pm

    Please! The Sony eBook PRS-505 has been out more than a year now. Why is the “head-to-head” done with the older PRS-500? Methinks there is a very leaning bias towards the Kindle. I tried last year to get a Kindle and after 3 months gave up and got the Sony PRS-505. Guess what, Amazon is sold out again. I couldn’t be happier with my Sony.

  17. Rob Bushway

    01/13/2009 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Jim – did you notice that this review was done last January? At the time, we didn’t have a PRS-505. All we had available to us was the PRS-500.

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