I have been tempted to buy an eBook reader for several month last year and finally made up my mind in January and bought myself a Pocketbook 903
(thanks to my co-worker Markus Greuel).
Reasons to buy an eBook reader
Why buy an device which costs as much as 15 to 40 books?
I might seem absurd to buy an eBook reader if the device itself costs as much as a whole shelf full of books, but it is totally worth it …
- if you are a geek (like me 👓 )
- if you read a lot of books
- if you like to have a selection of books with you all the time
- if you read a lot of computer-science books
- if you want to save some money using free eBooks
(like those provided by the Project Gutenberg)
- if hate books with 300 or more pages which are so thick
you can hardly thump through them
- if you don’t want to carry large books around
Arguments against eBook readers
Even though there are some good (for me) to use an eBook reader such as the Pocketbook, there are although some more objective reasons not buy such a device.
- You cannot scribble notes and highlight lines in an eBook (as far as I know)
- eBook Reader are expensive devices which won’t save you money because you have buy the electronic version of the books you like to read in addition to the device
- Buying eBooks leaves the same bad taste in your mouth as buying mp3s instead of a physical album – you cannot put an eBook in your book shelf
- You cannot read an eBook in the sauna or in the bathtub – the beach might be okay, but I wouldn’t recommend it 😉
I would love it, if book publishers would offer their paper-books bundled with an electronic version of the book (for a fair price). This way wouldn’t have to decide between the physical and the electronic version. Because if I read an interesting book I like to “own” it. And having a stupid file on my eBook reader flash drive doesn’t quite feel like “owning” the book.
Which eBook Reader is the best?
These days it is quite hard to buy an e-Book reader, because there are quite a lot of different devices available. And there are more and more tablet computers which are advertised as e-Book readers, but be careful:
If an e-Book reader (or e-reader) does not have an E Ink display it is not an e-Book reader – you cannot read books on a “normal” computer screen.
In the class of (real) E-Ink e-Book readers there is of course most prominently Amazon’s Kindle. But there are several other book retailers and consumer electronics manufacturers which are offering e-Book readers:
- Asus DR-900
- Barnes & Noble: Nook
- EnTourage eDGe
- Hanlin eReader (BeBook)
- Hanvon WISEreader
- iriver Story
- Kobo eReader
- OYO Reader)
- PocketBook eReader
- Samsung E6 & E10
- Sony Reader
Even though I am sure that there are many more e-readers on the market,
this short list of e-readers illustrates how difficult it can become
to pick a good e-book reader that meets your requirements.
These are the seven requirements that were important
to me for picking one of the e-Book readers (in that order):
- E-Ink Display
As I mentioned before, electronic paper displays (aka electronic ink) are an absolute must have for e-reader. There is nothing worse for reading books than a shiny glowing display which reflects the light.
E-ink displays appear just like normal paper, and that is exactly what an e-Book reader must provide.
- A large display that is at least 9 inch
The display should be larger than just 6 inch, because you simply cannot display illustrations, graphics or sample code on a 6 inch display in a way that they are still readable. And even if you don’t care about illustrations and sample code, because your are just reading plain text literature, you don’t want to scroll every minute or so to display the next portion of a single page on your tiny screen.
A colleague of mine had a PocketBook 602 with a six inch display and recently bought the larger 902, because he couldn’t stand the small screen any longer.
→ Bigger is Better
- Multi file-format support
An e-Book reader should at least support the most common e-Book file formats: ePub, html and pdf. But it doesn’t hurt if the device can handle more than these three file formats.
→ The more file formats are supported the better.
You should also check out the Wikipedia article about the different e-Book formats:
Comparison of e-book formats
I don’t want a keyboard integrated into my e-Book reader. This costs too much space on the device. I don’t need to type on my e-reader very often, and if I have to I would like to do it via the screen.
The device should not be heavier than 700 grams. I think you must be able to hold the e-reader comfortably in one hand.
The device shouldn’t be too thick either.
E-Books usually don’t require a lot of disk space and the devices often have enough internal memory to store more books than you will ever be able to read. BUT it is nice if you can switch between different libraries in order to keep the memory clearly arranged using a SD-Card.
A really good overview over all available e-Readers can be found on Wikipedia. The article lists all known devices and their manufacturers and compares their features and the supported e-Book formats:
I can highly recommend the article, as it helped me to find the
e-reader that has the best features, the biggest screen and the longest list of supported file-formats:
Why did I choose the PocketBook 903?
I originally planned on buying Amazon’s Kindle DX, because I though that Amazon’s device must be the best one available … because it’s from AMAZON.
But then I thought about it again, and I decided that I don’t want to buy an e-Book reader from the same company that sells the e-Books – they might not be too interested in supporting file formats other their own proprietary AZW e-Book format.
And additionally, if you have look at the Wikipedia article “Comparison of e-book readers”, you can easily see that the Amazon Kindle is not the most versatile e-reader on the market. According to the Wikipedia comparison it’s the PocketBook devices that have best features and the longest list of supported file-formats.
In the end I chose the PocketBook Pro 903, because a co-worker of mine has a PocketBook 602 which likes a lot – except for its screen size. And so I chose the bigger version of the otherwise almost identical device.
Review of my PocketBook Pro 903 e-Reader
I’ve used my PocketBook for about two month now and I love it:
- Display Size (9,7” / 1200 x 825 pixels)
The size of the PocketBook Pro 903 screen is about A5 (210 x 148 mm) and that seems to me like pretty good fit for an e-reader. I can display all kinds of technical illustrations and code samples and the screen is large enough to display the text in a comfortable size.
- Display quality (155 dpi / E-Ink Vizplex)
I had no idea what to expect because I bought my PocketBook online at the PocketBook-Shop, but the quality of the text displayed on the electronic-ink display is just perfect (as you can see on the pictures below). There is no reflection or whatsoever – you will always have perfect sight; even in the sun.
The PocketBook 903 weighs about 600 grams; which is okay for me. But less weight is always better I think 😉 .
- Shape (193 x 263 x 11,5 mm)
The device itself is little bit smaller than a A4 paper sheet and can be easily grabbed with the left hand or between the thumb and the index finger of the right hand.
- Battery (Li-Polymer / 3.7V / 1530 mAh)
The battery of the PocketBook lasts for weeks! I use the e-reader every day for at least 1 hour and I think I it lasts for 3 weeks or so.
A cold start from sleep mode until the last opened page is displayed takes between 20 seconds (for a PDF) and 40 seconds (for an ePub book).
This could be better, but it doesn’t bother me much. Its only interesting that ePub is so much slower than PDF, but I think this is because ePub files have to be rendered first.
Let me know if you have a device that is faster 😄
The PocketBook has many neat features such as:
- a built-in dictionary
- 3G, Wifi and Bluetooth access
- Text-to-Speech support in 24 languages
- The ability to play music
- A photo viewer
- A notepad
- And some installed applications such as a calculator, a chess game, a clock, an RSS reader, a drawing program, a snake and sudoku game and a web-browser
… which I haven’t used much. In the end I only want to use the device to read e-Books. But maybe I will use them some day 😄
Here are some links that help help you decide which e-Book reader is the best for your requirements:
- Wikipedia article: Comparison of e-book readers
- Wikipedia article: Comparison of e-book formats
- YouTube Video Review of the Amazon Kindle
- YouTube Video of the PocketBook 902 Pro
The PocketBook is great device and I am totally into e-Books now.
Go buy an e-Book reader!
– Andreas Koch