Amazon Kindle; stacking it up with B&N, Borders, and Sony

Amazon just announced a couple new Kindle units starting at $139 and has again set the bar for dedicated ebook reading devices.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

The big news tonight was the new Amazon Kindle announcement and Larry posted a great hands-on article that gives you a good feel for the device. After reading his article I almost want to go out and buy one, but with an old Sony Reader 505 and Barnes & Noble Nook there really is no compelling reason for me to get one for myself. Then again, according to Larry's hands-on I see that Amazon improved the contrast (the first gen was a whole lot better than the Kindle 2), sped up the page turns, and improved the form factor. Let's take a look at how these new Kindle device stack up with the latest low cost eReader devices on the market.

Jason posted an article stating that the Kindle will be the sole survivor in the dedicated ebook reader market and he makes some very salient points that have me believing this may eventually be true. My Nook set the bar for a few months, but now we see low cost devices from Amazon and Borders that are just as good in most all respects. The Kindle still doesn't support local library books and if Amazon knocks others out of the race I have to wonder if libraries will start providing ebooks in Kindle format.

Let's take a side-by-side look at the new Amazon Kindles, Barnes & Noble Nooks, Kobo eReader (Borders), and Sony Reader. Sony was the main ereader of choice for a couple of years, but may be moving back into the high end luxury area for ebooks.

Kindle WiFi/3G Nook WiFi/3G Sony Pocket Reader Kobo eReader
Display size 6 inches 6 inches 5 inches 6 inches
Weight (ounces) 8.5/8.7 11.6/12.1 7.76 7.79
Font and text size 3 styles and 8 sizes 3 styles and 6 sizes 3 sizes 2 styles and 5 sizes
Storage Integrated 3GB avail 2GB internal with microSD slot Integrated 440MB avail 1GB internal with SD slot
Bookmark/furthest read sync Yes, Whispersync Coming soon No No
Keyboard Hardware Software touch input None None
Orientation support Portrait and landscape Portrait only Portrait only Portrait only
EPUB support No Yes Yes Yes
PDF support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Price $139/$189 $149/$199 $149.99 $149.99
The Nook also supports lending ebooks, which no one else does. The Kindle supports text to speech, which no one else does. The Sony Reader has no wireless capability, limited memory, and 8 grayscale smaller display and is clearly being outclassed here now. The Kobo eReader also has no real wireless capability (limited BlackBerry Bluetooth only), no syncing, and no keyboard ability. There are some aspects of each that appeal to different people so it depends on what you are looking for in an ebook reader.

Even though I have been spending a lot of time the last few months reading ebooks on my iPad and smartphones, I still find I enjoy longer sessions of reading on one of my dedicated ebook readers. If I didn't already have one, I would honestly be all over a new Kindle and think Amazon reset the bar for dedicated ebook readers. The major feature it lacks is EPUB support so that you cannot read public library content or bring your content from other ebook stores like you can with all of the others.

Many believe that the magic price point for these is $99 and at this rate we may just end up seeing some available for this price in time for the holidays. At $139, I think it is almost a no brainer for book readers and if you consider that we were paying $350+ just a short while ago these new prices are quite a steal.

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