ereaderI must say, gadgets can be so cool.  But I know I get sucked in really easily, which is why I can take an elephant’s age to make my decisions.  By now I’ve heard things, asked around, surfed hours of YouTube videos, weighed the pros and cons, and finally decided: I’m going to buy an eBook reader.  But in heaven’s name, which one?

My biggest problem is that I’m too darn finicky.  I insist that my eBook reader be as close to perfect as possible.  I need Adobe DRM support, so no Kindle (which is a shame).  The reader shouldn’t have glare – goodbye Sony.  Bells and whistles are nice, but not at the expense of speed or price – which eliminates the Nook (offers a colour touchscreen), the iPad (tablet), the Cool-ER (multiple languages), the BeBook Neo (WiFi), the Samsung E6 (stylus writing), and all eReaders over $300 (including the QUE ProReader, which is truly a thing of beauty but costs a whopping $799).

There’s more – lots more – but here’s what I get from my hours of searching: Things are getting complicated.  There are few eBook readers now that just concentrate on the business of displaying electronic books; most offer extras like internet connections, multiple audiovisual formats, extensive note-taking capabilities, true-to-life newspaper and magazine displays, and heaps more.  Of course, it’d be great if it all worked, but as far as I can tell few eInk devices succeed with all of that without sacrificing some of the basics of reading a book.  And I’m talking about things like speed; long battery life; and a usable, intuitive interface.  I want to read an eBook.  Plain and simple.

Admittedly, the idea of the iPad is seductive.  One device that does it all?  Pretty awesome.  Similar devices, but that edge more in the territory of eBook readers than tablets, are the Pandigital Novel and the enTourage eDGe.  The latter is especially interesting, being a duo-screen hinged device with an eInk screen on one side and an Android-powered netbook on the other.  It’s neat, but it does seem a wee bit clumsy right now.  And there are just so many caveats with a tablet – possible eye fatigue, price, weight etc. – that I just can’t justify any of these devices right now.

I think multifunctionality is the future.  But whether or not tablets will take the place of a dedicated eBook reader is another matter.  There are so many issues with LED tablets, and so many advantages to E-Ink devices, that I think eBook readers (and especially the Kindle) will still be around for a few years yet.  At this point, I’m vaguely inclined to go for the iPhone (on contract), which covers all reading formats, and if I want a dedicated eBook reader I’ll go for the simplest, cheapest, and most basic eReader in the Canadian market, the Kobo.  But hey, who knows what will pop up in 6 months.

Does your eBook Reader have multiple functions?  Do you think multifunctional tablets will kick out dedicated eBook readers?

– Jean AAR

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