Kindle Vs Sony Reader

Kindle 2.0 isn’t out yet so we’re comparing the original Amazon Kindle against the new Sony Reader. This is a Kindle blog and there’s no way we’d ever agree that the Sony is anywhere near the Kindle Reader, so I’m going to take a different approach. I’m going to write down advantages of each, and add a poll so that you can vote.  Also, please do leave comments with your thoughts.

On December 15th, I updated my points with feedback from the polls. A total of 838 votes were cast across both polls.

Sony Vs Kindle – Obvious Sony Reader advantages

  1. PDF support – a big one. This was the single biggest thing Kindle owners would like to see in Kindle 2.0. 
  2. TouchScreen – no doubt this is an advantage, even with the eink screen refresh lag. This was the second most popular feature in the poll.
  3. FrontLight – Kindle has none, and a backlight is one of the two most sought after kindle accessories (along with kindle covers). This was the third most popular thing Kindle owners wanted in Kindle 2.0. 
  4. Looks – Owners definitely want Kindle 2.0 to look better, which the leaked pictures seem to hint against.
  5. ePub support – Lots of people drum this up as a huge advantage. However,  opening up the Kindle too much would lead to Amazon not being able to support whispernet i.e. if people start buying their books from other stores. This was actually the 5th most desired feature.
  6. Send in your own Sony advantages – So far, these have included a secure mount in the cover, availability in Canada (which I strongly second), and no DRM. Keep sending in your thoughts.

Thank you very much for your votes – There were 514 votes up to Dec 15th, 2008.

Kindle Vs Sony – Obvious Kindle Reader advantages

  1. Wireless Internet – And it’s free.  This was listed as the number 1 advantage the kindle had over sony’s reader.
  2. Buy straight from the Kindle, and get books in a minute. This was a very close 2nd (joint).
  3. A Wider range of titles – 180,00 to be precise, and growing.  This was also joint second. 
  4. An actual keyboard – would you agree? I always prefer an actual keyboard since I have a Motorola Ming with an on-screen touch keyboard and just added a MOTO RAZR with an actual one, and the difference is huge.  This was a distant 4th.
  5. Trust Amazon more than Sony – 5th.
  6. It’s cheaper by $40.
  7. There are lots of free books available in Kindle format, and authors keep offering books for free.
  8. Send in your own Kindle Reader advantages.  Here you really felt that lack of Mac Support by Sony, and the free sample chapter from Amazon were big factors, as was the font sizes available in the Kindle.

Again, thank you for your votes – there were 324 votes upto December 15th, 2008.

If you want to buy Kindle 1.0 here’s the link.

I’m going to wait for your suggestions and then update the post (and, if needed, the polls). If we set aside people who are pro-Sony or pro-amazon I think the free internet and instant download of books are two very big advantages the Kindle Reader has over all of its competition. Any rival ereader manufacturer that’s trying to attack amazon without addressing these two huge competitive advantages is fighting a losing battle. Amazon, with the Kindle 2.0 Reader, has the option of addressing some key low lying fruit like support for folders, PDF support (perhaps?), a better design, and a better looking Kindle. Just doing this, without adding many new features would be enough for it to continue to be the first option.

If Amazon does add 1 or more killer features to the 2nd generation Kindle Reader, then it’s going to decimate the competition. That’s what my gut feeling is.

Sony PRS-700

Sony PRS-700

Kindle Reader

Kindle Reader

16 Responses

  1. Sony store’s books seem to be $2 or so higher than Amazon’s Kindle books.

    But the touchscreen and the MUCH better design of the Sony are sweet.

    Sony’s history with DRM is pretty bad, so their DRM’d books are a risk.

  2. [...] Amazon Kindle Review has started a comparison of these two machines. The author hopes the comparison will continue to be filled out in the comments section. While not [...]

  3. I considered the Sony reader for many months. I did not buy it because it hhad lousy Mac support. I use the USB a lot more than the Whispernet, because I take advantage of the myriad of sources out there. The Kindle ssupports the *.prc format, which gives me access to more books than the proprietary *.AZW does.

  4. A major advantage of the Sony over the Kindle for me – I can buy it here in the UK. The Kindle is STILL unavailable here. That clinches it for me.

  5. Re: the Sony advantages

    1. TouchScreen – no doubt this is an advantage, even with the eink screen refresh lag.

    I agree. I would hazard a guess that the Kindle 1.0 will be the last major consumer electronic hand held device that does not have this.

    2. PDF support – a big one.

    Would be bigger if I haven’t already found at least a couple of ways to bring PDFs over that work well enough for my needs. I’d like native support for this, but frankly I’d be even happier if folks abandoned PDFs altogether in favor of ePub which is far more flexible (and open).

    3. ePub support – Lots of people drum this up as a huge advantage. However, opening up the Kindle too much would lead to Amazon not being able to support whispernet i.e. if people start buying their books from other stores.

    I believe the cost of Whispernet is built into each book sale that occurs across that network. Of course this doesn’t cover the Experimental Browser. Nor file sends. But Amazon could easily charge for those uses if Sprint insisted that the economics didn’t work. You can already get a lot of free books over Whispernet and presumably they present the same economic issue for Amazon as purchased books would.

    4. FrontLight – Kindle has none, and a backlight is one of the two most sought after kindle accessories (along with kindle covers).

    I think you may have this backwards…. Right now the only lights that work with the Kindle are front lights – be they the room’s ambient light or a Mighty Brite, these lights shine from in front of the e-ink display. A back light doesn’t make sense since you aren’t illuminating pixels as such. A side front light similar to what the old Game Boy Advance SP had should work with e-ink displays and I’d certainly pay more to have something built in over using the various add ons that are ergonomically poor solutions.

    5. Send in your own Sony advantages.

    My co-worker has a Sony e-reader (not the new one) and we had some fun comparing. His device is much slicker in design and the button placement is not nearly as problematic. But no keyboard and no Whispernet along with a very small library were enough to convince me I had made the right choice.

  6. Those who actually use an ereader do not want a backlight. Sure, those who use phones or PDA’s think they do, but what they really want is to read in the dark — the sidelight of a Sony do that, but so do several booklights available for the Kindle, other ereaders and plain old paperbooks. What those using backlit systems don’t realize (and won’t until they try using the two for several hours at a time) is the difference in how your eyes feel after using a non-backlit system.

    Although the built-in lights of the Sony seem to be a major advantage, there is another reason they are included: the touch screen greatly decreases the contrast of the EInk paper (some estimates are by about 40%). Thus, the light is needed in many lower-light situations where the older Sony and the Kindle may be read without added lighting. Eventually, of course, the built in LED’s will dim (as all LED’s do), and you’ll end up having to either purchase a new reader or a clip-on booklight, negating this advantage completely. Also, using the booklight will decrease battery life, which may be an issue in some situations.

    The remaining two advantages are software – either or both could easily be incorporated in the next update of the Kindle software (and would be installed automatically when you connected via Whispernet, while Sony isn’t releasing upgrades to the software of their older systems).

    The biggest advantages, so far, that Sony seems to ignore are the integrated store and near instantaneous downloads of new purchases (Sony has said that “maybe” some type of wireless might be desirable, someday) and the cost difference of books (even if it is subsidized by Amazon in some cases), with practically every book at Amazon selling for anywhere from a dollar to ten dollars or more less than the Sony store.

  7. I have coveted a Kindle since it was first announced. I get the value in it. I understood that there would be a delay in releasing to Canada and non-US geographies… but come on! What is with Amazon! They must know that there big markets of readers beyond US shores???!!!

    For now, it’s Sony. Or iPhone, iTouch. Amazon is losing market share.

  8. The THING I dislike most about the Kindle is that I cannot read Amazon bought ebooks on my PC as well as the Kindle. Having been used to reading Adobe ebooks in the past with Adobe Reader on both the PC (in particular a Tablet) and Pocket PC devices I find being limited to just a Kindle to be kind of a step backwards.

  9. Any idea when the Kindle 2.0 will be out?

  10. no – your guess is as good as mine. perhaps mid to end Feb 2009.

  11. The THING I dislike most about the Kindle is that I cannot read Amazon bought ebooks on my PC as well as the Kindle.

    I am somewhat convinced some person will reverse engineer .azw files and make a open-source computer program to read those files. Also, whenever (ifever) Kindle goes mainstream, I have no doubt someone’s going to release an open source whatever–>.azw converter. I’m currently using Mobipocket’s converter, as it formats things better.

    Perhaps small LED lights built around the screen would be the best light, with a switch on the back to turn them on and off. This would be the best of both worlds, I believe.

    Touchscreen….this will take a while, I think. Eink simply isn’t that fast (playing mindsweeper on my Kindle is insanity.)

  12. I own a PRS-500, PRS-505, and Kindle1. While the PRS-505 is my favorite so far, all of these digital book devices are stillborn by the seriously tiny book selection. Less than 1 in 10 books I want to read is available electronically for either device.

    You could put nuclear fusion inside the bookreader so it never needed charging and I would still be reading paperbacks because that is where the content is. I’d like to see fewer press releases about minor adjustments to the technology, and more press releases about massive increases in digital book availability. Learn from iTunes. It didn’t reach critical mass until the music people wanted to listen to was mostly available from their store.

    • David,
      I own a Kindle 2 and am very happy with it in terms of the screen size, weight, and storage capabilities. I find that about 60% of books I want to read are available. I can find more literature/fiction than nonfiction, especially travelogues and adventure titles. I have never had trouble finding a book on Amazon.com and hope that someday all the books for sale there will be available for the Kindle.

  13. The problem is the kindle is very poorly made, I have had a dead screen twice in 55 weeks of very light use. This last time, they wanted a $180.00 to repair it. At $400 it should be much better quality! Horrible!

  14. [...] were polls in an earlier Kindle Vs Sony Reader post asking our readers about Kindle and Sony Reader comparative advantages [...]

  15. The Kindle reader may not have built in illumination but you can still use your reader in the dark using the voice reader included with the programing. I have a Kindle 2 reader and have had very little trouble with it beyond not reading the included manual better and a simple call to the support line has been very responsive solving my problems with a few key strokes.

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