Sunday, November 14, 2010

Consumer Reports releases new ratings report on E-readers - Update

Consumer Report has released its latest survey of e-readers, and they have the Kindle at the top again.
  Click the image at the left to see the video.

 The video linked to at the left explains that the iPad was not included because they were testing the category of dedicated e-readers and the iPad is essentially a multimedia tablet and computer that also functions as an e-reader.
  They add that it's considerably more expensive while having an LCD screen which "is fine, though it is slightly less crisp than that of the best e-book readers" and is also quite a bit heavier than the dedicated readers they test and portability was a feature important to the set.  "Consumer Reports recommends buying the iPad for e-books only if consumers are willing to compromise to get a multifunction device."

Consumer Reports has its full story and ratings behind a paywall, but KABC's story on the CR report has a few quotes:
' "I'd say the color screens are almost impossible to read outdoors," said Rich Fisco, Consumer Reports.  "On the other hand the e-ink screens are almost like reading a real book."

In the end, Consumer Reports gave top ratings to the 3G Kindle, which costs $189.

"It's the best reader we've ever tested," said Paul Reynolds, a tester with Consumer Reports. "The type is crisp and easy to read. The battery life is outstanding, as is the speed of the page turns."

But you can save money buying the $139 Kindle, which is identical to the 3G except you can only download content via Wi-Fi.'

  Amazon Kindle forum regular Fool for Books points out that the Amazon Kindle Community Forum has had many notes from customers who had to upgrade their $139 WiFi only models almost immediately because they had not understood that in order to use 'wireless WiFi' in the home when one doesn't have the 3G cellular wireless feature (which all past Kindles have had), they had to have set up a WiFi network in their home -- which itself also brings expenses, while the top model with 3G cellphone-type wireless carries no additional costs for even the added feature of looking up info on the web, in about 61 countries) from almost anymore.

  See the blog article on differences between 3G/WiFi and WiFi-only access.

  Consumer Reports also recommends the Barnes and Noble Nook. "It doesn't score quite as high as the Kindle, but you can use it to download free library books.  The Kindle doesn't accept library books," said Reynolds."

I subscribe to Consumer Reports online and it's really worth the $26 or so per year as you can search it.  On the Recommended readers, there were these interesting comments and scores (excerpted):
' Best choices for use everywhere:
Amazon Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi -- 72
The best e-book reader we've ever tested, and one of the lightest and slimmest.  Superior page turns and the most readable type we've seen.  A jumbo font size and text-to-speech capability are boons for the sight-impaired.  Among the few models that doesn't support library rentals, however...

Barnes & Noble nook 3G + Wi-Fi -- 56
Though among the more challenging devices to use, due in part to its dual screens, it's also among the highest-scoring models that allow e-book rentals from public libraries, a potential cost-saver...

Best values can load new content wirelessly only via Wi-Fi. These versions are better buys than their pricier siblings, unless you expect to frequently need new content when you're out of range of a Wi-Fi network.

Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi -- 68
[Same description as for the 3G-included model above]

Barnes & Noble nook Wi-Fi -- 53
[Same description as for the 3G-included model above] '

Consumer Reports always neglects to mention that the 3G on a Kindle allows you to use Wikipedia or to look up info anywhere on the Net, from your book, when on a bus or at the park or beach or at the dentist's office :-) etc...and that the now 3-yr experimental Free 3G Web Browser that does not confine you to the company store (nor carries a charge for web lookups) differentiates it from the other models to a considerable degree ... not to mention that it's WebKit based and faster than the earlier browsers.

  Also, this 3G instant downloading of Kindle books is available to you in other countries when you're traveling -- in about 100 countries -- a unique feature of the Kindle since no other e-readers offer this -- and allows you free web access in over 60 countries.   I suppose this is considered a non-feature.  It amazes me that a serious comparison of e-readers is done without mentioning this.
' If you need a big screen:
This newest DX is suitable mostly for those with a large budget who plan to read a lot of textbooks, with large diagrams etc. it's a fine performer, with very readable type and page turns are only slightly slower than its fleet 6-inch sibling.

[Other e-reader scores in descending order]
    [The new Sonys were "In testing"]
enTourage eDGe -- 54
Pandigital Novel -- 50
BeBook Neo -- 50
Spring Design Alex -- 49
Aluratek Libre eBook -- 46
ViewSonic VEB620 -- 44
Kobo eReader -- 40
Augen The Book -- 40 '

The Kindles are the only ones with full red-circle 'Excellent' ratings for Readability.   For Navigation, they share that with the Pan Digital Novel.

From what I've seen in the news, the new Sonys will, after testing, wind up with best marks for Navigation due to its touch screen --  also, for flexibility of annotations, except that the Kindle annotations are backed up, and all your highlighting and notes are available to you on a private, password protected Amazon webpage, ready for not only viewing easily but also copyable for editing in a separate text file on your computer.

  That's invaluable for those studying a subject and needing to make reports.  It's also great for just reviewing the aspects of a book that were important to you or for use in discussing the book in a book club.  (You can also choose to disable backups of annotations.)

  The Sony with comparable features (though not free 3G web lookups) and the touchscreen carries a price about $100 more than the Kindle and Nook and is said to be very well made.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. This sentence of yours caught my eye - "and that the now 3-yr experimental Free 3G Web Browser that does not confine you to the company store. " Does that mean our free wireless is ONLY for 3 years and then we are charged????

  2. Bette,
    Sorry to confuse. I meant that the "experimental" free 3G web browser has existed in that form for 3 years now, from the time the first Kindle was released.

    Some worry that Amazon will make it unfree in general soon after they buy it, but they've had it for 3 years and they now advertise it as a free feature where it is enabled, so it's not likely it'll be taken away on these models any time soon.

    It's a free feature to use the web lookups. Hope that clears it up.

  3. All these readers assume we want to read either books or periodicals by subscription. My aging iPhone 3G beats them all for one of my most common forms of reading, webpages synched through Instapaper. None offer the power and convenience of the Instapaper app on iPhones and iPads. That's something they could and should do.

  4. Consumer reports are created by evaluating individuals' experiences with a product or service.I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information.

    Consumer Report

  5. Thanks, though I think the focus was to get more to know about your website in India, but I found it an interesting site and I hope people using it will get solutions if the reports reach enough people there to make an effect on vendors.

  6. I would like to know that if I buy one of these things can I put software of my own on them. I have software for a reader that can go onto a pda but that I would like to be able to have on these but of course if I can't then it wouldn't be worth it to me.

    Thank you

  7. Anonymous,
    No, you can't put software of your own on a Kindle, though you can add apps approved by Amazon and eventually more so when they officially open their apps store.

    But if you want to put your older software on it, no, not possible.

  8. Anonymous,
    One other thing - some have made 'hacks' such as customized screensleeper capability, but they're usually incompatible with new updates and lately, one has to use a 'jailbreaker' for the Kindle and that's not smiled upon by device makers and can affect warranties or terms of service though Amazon seems somewhat flexible about it.


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