Technology doesn't hold still, especially not these days. New eReaders are popping out of the woodwork like mice in an old house. Right now on the US market there are two version of the Kindle, two versions of the Sony Reader, and the low-end but colorful Cool-er, plus some non-e-ink devices. Between now and Christmas, you will also see the Barnes & Noble Nook, the iRex DR800SG, and the new wireless Sony Daily Editon. In January, Plastic Logic will launch the QUE ProReader, the first dedicated eReader aimed at business users rather than casual readers. PL stresses that the QUE will allow you to read and annotate not only ebooks but word processing and spreadsheet documents. The betting is, the QUE will be pricer because of its market and functions.
In the US, the earliest e-ink adopters bought the Sony. It was easy then; if you wanted e-ink, that's what you got. Next, came the Kindle. If you wanted e-ink and wireless connectivity, you got a Kindle. Now, people are confused. Should they buy now or wait? And what should they buy? The comparison charts on the web go out of date every day,
What you want determines whether your should wait, and what you should buy.
• Do you need to be able to borrow library books? Sony and iRex
• Do you want to buy from Amazon? Kindle or Kindle DX
• Do you want to buy from Barnes & Noble? Sony, QUE, iRex, or Nook
• Do looks matter? Cool-er or Sony if you want a color case (Cool-er has 8 colors); wait for a Nook if you want a slick design at a reasonable price. If you're willing to pay big bucks, iRex eReaders are beautiful; the iLiad lets you work crossword puzzles!
• Do you want a touch screen? Sony, iRex, or QUE. The Nook offer a hybrid (color touch screen for menus; e-ink screen for displaying the book)
• Do you want it to read aloud to you (at least those books the publisher hasn't opted out of this feature)? Kindle 2 or DX or some Sonys
• Do you want it to be able to lend an ebook to one friend for 14 days (at least those books the publisher hasn't opted out of this feature)? Nook
• Do you want need or want wireless while you travel outside the US? Kindle 2 (except in Canada for now)
But wait, there's more! In addition to dedicated eReaders, there's also a new crop of netbook/eReader hybrids coming out, including the Alex (dual screen, Android OS), the eDGe (another dual screen), and the Pixel Qi (not a true e-ink screen, by the way).
And then there's the fabulous "iPad" tablet from Apple, not yet announced but assumed to be under development, especially after a guy from the Ne York Times (okay, the Executive Editor) mentioned being in talks about putting the paper on the "Apple slate."
But whatever you buy, whenever you buy it, be prepared for the announcement of something much better/faster/slicker/cheaper, because it will happen. It might take a week, a month, a year, two years, but there will be something better.
If you want to wait, that's fine. I'll be reading ebooks on my Kindle in the meantime. I might some day have buyer's remorse, but I won't have non-reader's remorse.