Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hanlin eReaders Galore!

I've covered Kindle eReaders Galore! and Sony Readers Galore!, the eBook readers from industry leaders Amazon and Sony. Now it's time for the Hanlin eReaders from Jinke Electronics.

Jinke doesn't sell these readers under its own brand name. You'll find them under such names as BeBook and EZ Reader.

Here is the BeBook, based on the Hanlin V3:

(The queen of hearts is shown for size comparison. The hotlinks above the images, when present, link to online reviews of the devices.)

Here is the just-introduced BeBook Mini, a.k.a. the Hanlin V5:

As of the date I am posting this, I can as yet find no in-depth reviews of the BeBook Mini/Hanlin V5, which is also sold as the EZ Reader Pocket Pro. The link above is to techie coverage of the device at the MobileRead Wiki.

Here is the Hanlin V9, a large-format eBook reader:

The Hanlin V9 is hard to find on the Web. Here is a comparison between it and the original Amazon Kindle.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sony Readers Galore!

As a way to read eBooks, the Amazon Kindle (see Kindle eReaders Galore!) has stiff competition from Sony and its Sony Readers. Here is the Sony PRS-505, shown with the queen of hearts to give an idea of its size:

(The hotlinks above and below take you to reviews of the respective Sony Readers at CNET.)

The PRS-505 is no longer available new from Sony. Here is a link to eBay listings of the device.

Here is Sony's PRS-300 "Pocket Edition" Reader:

The PRS-300 comes in navy blue (shown), rose, and silver.

The PRS-600 "Touch Edition" Reader from Sony looks like this:

The PRS-600 comes in rose (shown), silver, or black. It has no buttons because it uses a touch screen.

Coming in December 2009, the touch-screen Sony PRS-900 "Daily Edition" Reader will look like this:

(The size comparison with the queen of hearts is just a guess on my part, based on knowing that the diagonal measurement of the screen is going to be 7 inches.)

Because it hasn't hit the market yet, CNET hasn't reviewed the PRS-900 as of the date of this post. The hotlink above is to a page at that previews it, and also discusses other Sony Readers.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kindle eReaders Galore!

Kindle eBook readers come in various sizes. Here is the original Amazon Kindle, now discontinued, shown alongside the queen of hearts for size comparison:

(Click on the device names above and below to read a CNET review of each device.)

Here for visual comparison is the Apple iPhone, likewise placed next to the queen of hearts:

The queen of hearts is the same size. The iPhone, which can run the Kindle for iPhone app that reads most of the same content as the Kindle, is a lot smaller than the original Kindle.

Here is the current replacement for the original Kindle, the Kindle 2:

The Kindle 2 is bigger than the original Kindle, so the queen of hearts looks smaller. (The Kindle 2 is being sold by Amazon under the name of just "Kindle," without the number, even though the original Kindle had the very same name. Amazon now calls the original Kindle the "Kindle (1st generation)." "Kindle 2" is used here and elsewhere as a term of convenience to distinguish the new model from the original.)

Here is the fuller-featured Kindle DX:

The Kindle DX is much bigger than the Kindle 2, so the queen of hearts is shown even smaller by comparison.

A selling point for the new Kindle and Kindle DX is their ability to purchase and download books wirelessly, via the Sprint cellphone network. Kindle calls it Whispernet; it's really the Sprint network, but you don't have to know that. Nor do you need a Sprint account, since Amazon arranges for your Kindle to get access to the Sprint wireless network for free, for this one particular purpose.

Most dedicated eBook readers can't yet access content wirelessly — you have to use a computer to buy the eBooks online and download them, then hook up a USB cable to transfer them to the reader.

It gets even better. If you have sprung for more thane one Kindle — say, one at work and another at home — you can synchronize them via Whispernet, using Whispersync. Any Kindle content can be wirelessly copied to up to six Kindle devices (including iPhones using the Kindle for iPhone application). Whispersync makes sure that current information such as the last page read for each eBook in your library propagates across all devices.

That's the good news. The bad news is that Kindle content can only be read on Kindle devices (including iPhones). Kindle eBooks use Digital Rights Management software technology — DRM — to keep you from being able to read them on, say, Sony Readers. If someday Amazon pulls the plug on the Kindle readers, or your Kindle device breaks and you decide to switch to a non-Kindle eBook reader, your Kindle content becomes unusable. (True, Amazon has stated that it plans to do for other iPhone-like mobile devices what it has already done for the iPhone; as long as you have an Amazon-blessed multi-function mobile device like the iPhone, this should never become a big problem.)

The Kindle family is the first eBook reader to get a lot of attention. Though Amazon has declined to announce its sales figures, it has been dubbed by its ardent supporters the "iPod of eReaders" because it has caught on so nicely. The brand name Kindle even threatens to become synonymous with the whole dedicated eBook reader category, which is expected to take off between now and 2013. If you want an eReader that, when friends ask about it, you can say "It's a ______" and hope for their instant comprehension, you'll probably fill in the blank with "Kindle."

* * *

As of October 7, 2009, Amazon has cut the price of the Kindle 2 to $259, from $299. In the near future, for an additional $20, customers will be able to get a Kindle version with international wireless access; the $259 version has only U.S. access.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome to Viva eBooks!

This blog celebrates eBooks!

eBooks are like regular books ... but they're electronic books. You read them using a computer or a handheld device like an iPhone or a Kindle. That's because electronic books are digital. They're computer files. You buy eBooks online — or find them for free, or borrow them from a public library — then you download them to your digital reading device and ... read them!

Here's a picture of a Sony eBook Reader:

Here's another model:

Here's the Kindle 2 reader from

Here's a side-by-side view of the Kindle 2 and an Apple iPhone using the Kindle for iPhone app:

Note that the Kindle 2 image has been much reduced in size to match the iPhone image's height. The Kindle 2 is actually much bigger than the iPhone — see Kindle eReaders Galore! for more.

But you get the idea. Whether you use a dedicated reader like the Sony Reader or the Kindle 2, or a multipurpose handheld that doubles as an eBook reader as the iPhone does, you can carry not just a single book but a whole library in your pocket or purse. You can read any of your eBooks wherever you are. When you're done reading an eBook, you can remove it from the reader to save storage space, but still have access to it on your desktop computer or online, in case you want to read it again.

And eBooks are widely available today. Virtually every recent New York Times bestseller, for example, is available as an eBook ... for a price way lower than the hardcover edition. Most of the great classics, and many other books as well, are available as free eBooks.


Before I go any further, I'd better admit some of my biases. One is that I simply think eBooks are neat! The whole idea of being able to buy a book — or obtain one for free — and read it on a digital handheld device or on a desktop or laptop computer impresses me as way cool!

Another bias is that I think its even cooler when the handheld device has many other functions, besides reading books. For my money, the iPhone is a better eBook reader, for that reason and for others as well, than the Kindle or the Sony. Other smartphones such as a BlackBerry or a Palm Pre can also serve as eBook readers, so they're part of the same multipurpose-device scene.

Yet I realize that not everyone will agree. Some will prefer a dedicated reader, if only because it has a larger screen. Others, because the dedicated readers use for their screen technology not an LCD but E ink, which is easier on the eyes and also on battery life. So I'll do my best to cover both types of reader, multipurpose and dedicated — as well as the possibility of using laptop and desktop computers as eBook readers — in the posts I'll make to this blog, even though the reader I use is an iPhone.

Also, I'd better fess up to being almost completely Apple-centric. I have, as I say, an iPhone (and also an older iPod Touch which has been pretty much retired). Plus, an iMac 20" desktop computer and a MacBook Pro laptop, all on a wireless (i.e., WiFi) home network using a couple of Apple's AirPort devices as access points (i.e., routers).

So my knowledge of Windows machines and non-Apple WiFi devices is limited. Now, just about anything I can do on my Macs that use the Mac OS, as far as reading and storing eBooks, can likewise be done in Windows. Computer applications for reading eBooks are typically available for both OS's, as well as (often) for other OS's as well. But my hands-on knowledge is in the Apple Macintosh world only.

So, having admitted some of my biases, I'll close by saying: Happy eReading!