Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nook vs Kindle

The battle begins between the similar but very different eInk devices...Both devices offer similar technologies, but one device, in my opinion, is a bit better than the other.
The first contender: Barnes & Noble Nook

For a moderately priced (WiFi only $149 + tax, WiFi + 3G only $199 + tax) device it has many advantages and disadvantages. Many have claimed one of the biggest selling points is the touch screen. Having the touch screen option makes the device more user friendly. The disadvantage to a small touch screen is that the option is very limiting, also having the touch screen results in a reduced battery life. When reading up on the device I found that no site, including bn.com, state the actual battery life of the device with WiFi/3G on. After testing the device out, I found that the battery life is ~6-10 hours with wifi and 3G on.  In addition, the device start up time is variable. At one moment I had it start up in a minute, and at another moment it took 5 to 7 minutes. The refresh rate is moderate, with any eInk device there will be a halo of the previous text.
A great option that the nook has is the removable battery. It is great to be able to replace the battery without having to send it back to the manufacturer. Another nice option is the nook has expandable memory up to 32GB. This is great for those who love to have audiobooks and music on the device. Or if a person has a large library. I did not spend enough time with the mp3 option. I was able to see that the user could easily transfer content via the USB cable. Or in the case of the expandable memory, the user could easily place the micro-SD card into their memory card reader.The only disadvantage to having the removable battery and expandable memory is size. By providing this option it makes the device a little thicker as well as heavier.
The device operation:
Everything that a user could ever need is available by the touch screen. For me it was a little difficult to limit myself to the 1 by 3 inch touch screen. I caught myself touching the eInk screen in hopes that the action would be completed. When accessing the bn.com store, a qwerty keyboard is provided. The keyboard does take some getting use to, it is not as sensitive as an iPhone is. It was nice to be able to play chess and sudoku on the device, and it is nice that the device bookmarks what the user is currently reading.
When reading books, it was very easy to view the text. The device has nice menu options for the user to select the ideal font size as well as font type. Their is also an experimental web browser that allows access to the web via wifi but not through the 3G service.
In order to purchase books, it can ONLY be done through bn.com. If the user would like to go on the web and search for another text it can only be done through their personal computer then transferred to the device via the USB cable. The Nook is able to handle an array of file types and has a native PDF reader. When reading PDF it will not seem like an image, instead it will be as though the user is reading a ePUB file.


 The second Contender: Amazon Kindle
Similarly to the Nook, the Amazon Kindle is moderately priced (WiFi only $139 +S&H, WiFi + 3G only $189 + S&H) and dependent on the state you live you may or may not be charged tax. Unlike the Nook there is a bit of a wait. When I ordered the device, it took ~8 days to receive the item. This is with choosing the 2 day shipping option. Unlike the nook, the kindle has a much better battery life and includes a greater slew of features.
Thus far I have played around with the kindle since September 20th, and have had to charge it once. Amazon has posted under the specifications page that the battery life is ~10 days with wifi/3g on and 1 month with the antenna turned off. I would definitely agree that the battery life is that long. There have been many occasions where I have found myself reading for a few hours and the battery seems as though there is no change. But the battery on the Kindle has one disadvantage, it is not removable. In the event that something were to go wrong with it, the device must be sent back to amazon. Amazon does offer a warranty on the device for a monetary fee. The warranty will cover any damage for another year after the manufacturer's warranty period.  The Kindle has a built in 4GB hard drive, and as an added bonus if the user would like to transfer books to the device he/she are not limited to using the USB cable. Instead, the kindle provides a unique e-mail address which allows the owner to e-mail the file to the device. In order to test this feature, I sent a pdf from my laptop to the device and it arrived within a matter of seconds. Unlike the nook, the kindle does not handle pdfs in the same way that it handles mobi files. When the device receives a pdf it handles it as though it is a set of images so the user has to zoom into the file, similar to using adobe acrobat reader.
The device operation:
When turning on the device it loads up in a few seconds. The refresh rate is surprisingly fast and there are few instances of halos. Every feature that the device has can be access by the use of 3 buttons: Home, Menu, and the arrow keys. When I received the device I was a bit confused because I couldn't figure out how to really use the device. Within a few seconds I quickly picked it up.
The device maintains the position of several books. Presently, I have 10 books on the Kindle, and it has maintained the exact spot of 3 of the 10 that I am reading. I can easily store more books. Each book, is less than 1 MB if they are mobi files. PDF files are typically bigger. I have looked around and there are options to convert PDF files to mobi files. I have yet to find a program that I would use on a continual basis. If any reader finds anything please let me know.
A really nice feature the device has is text to speech. It converts any book into an audio book, and as a nice bonus the device has two large speakers which provide good sound for the user to listen to the book without plugging in head phones. For those who would prefer to use a 3.5mm jack, there is one at the base of the device. In addition, mp3s can be played through the device speakers and the kindle also has an experimental web browser. Unlike the nook, the experimental browser can be used to go on the web while using the 3G service. Moreover, in order to purchase books, the user is not limited to using the amazon store. Through the experimental browser books can be purchased through other sites. I did a quick search on mobi books and found a few sites to get books from.

Comparing the two book stores (bn vs amazon), amazon has a better selection of book as well as a larger selection to look through.

Hopefully, this review helps in making your decision.

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