What's the best e-reader for me?
March 7, 2013 9:39 AM Subscribe
I know pretty much nothing about the e-reader market right now, but I'm thinking about taking the plunge. Given my particular requirements, what is likely to be the best e-reader for me?
posted by Scientist to Technology (35 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
So I've realized that lately I've been doing a lot more onscreen reading than on-paper reading -- mostly on my laptop and my phone. I'm OK with this but neither of them are perfect, and I've been thinking that since this situation seems unlikely to change in the future, it might be time to spring for a dedicated e-reader. Problem is, I don't really know what the landscape looks like for e-readers right now. I do, however, have a good idea of what I am looking for in such a device.
The three main file formats that I read are PDF, ePUB, and TXT in that order, followed by DOC/DOCX. This does not look like it is going to change for me, so I really would like an e-reader that has native support for at least the first three of those formats. I do not buy ebooks from any online markets nor do I have any interest in doing so, but I constantly have to read scientific articles which are typically provided in PDF format, and spend almost as much time reading freely-available fiction which may be presented as a PDF or TXT file but which I prefer to get as ePUB when possible. I also frequently have to read notes, memos, and other emphemeral documents which generally come to me as TXT or DOC/DOCX files. It would be nice to have basic HTML rendering capacity as well but the only truly required formats are PDF, ePUB, and TXT. I could get by with just PDF and ePUB if forced to I suppose, but good native support for at least those two formats is an absolute requirement. Yes, this rules out the Kindle. PDF support should include highlighting and annotation capability.
The other biggest requirement for me is a good screen. The whole point of an e-reader is that you are going to stare at it for long periods of time like you would a book, so I feel like having the best possible screen is kind of a key selling point. I know that I definitely want an e-paper display, that's mandatory. High resolution and high contrast, as well as an excellent backlight, seem like they would be the most important factors here. Also, it would be nice if it were bigger than the 6" size that seems to be standard these days (the PDFs I read are usually two-column documents and rarely reflow well) but that's not a dealbreaker. I think I would prefer a touchscreen interface.
It should also, of course, have reasonable build quality and a thoughtful, responsive UI -- I don't want to spend hours a day gripping something that feels like a piece of trash and is frustrating to actually operate.
I need to be able to keep my documents synced across the various devices that I use: primarily a laptop, phone, and this hypothetical e-reader. Currently I use DropBox for this, but would be willing to deal with another solution as long as it is similarly seamless. I do not require 3G support, WiFi is good enough for me as long as it is easy (ideally automatic) to keep my personal library synced across my computer, phone, and e-reader. I would like to have the option of browsing my library in the filesystem rather than in some custom library app if possible (at least on my laptop, anyway) because I am a cranky old man in that way. I would vastly prefer local storage in addition to or instead of cloud-based storage, rather than cloud-based storage alone, as I need to be able to access documents while offline.
Price is not really the main object, though obviously I do care about value for money. If there is not currently an e-reader that fulfills all of my desires, I am willing to wait -- especially if there is something in the pipeline that seems like it would work better for my needs.
Oh, and whatever it is it has to be readily available in the U.S. as that is where I live. Thanks very much for your recommendations, I really appreciate it!