Kindle Vs Sony Reader, PlasticLogic, Hanlin, iRex, Cybook

There are the obvious competitors and the not so well known ones. Here’s a list of the main eReaders that are competing against the kindle -

Update: The Sony Reader 600 is now available. Check out my Kindle Vs Sony Reader Touch Edition and Kindle Vs Sony Reader Pocket Edition posts.

Hanlin eReader V3 vs Kindle.

  1. Based on eInk Vizplex technology. Same as the Kindle.
  2. 800 by 600, 6″ screen. Same as the Kindle.
  3. Document Formats Supported: pdf, doc, epub, lit, prc, mobi, wolf, djvu, html, txt, chm, fb2, and ppt. 
  4. Image Formats supported: png, tif, gif, bmp, jpg.
  5. Music Formats: mp3.
  6. Languages Supported: English, Chinese, Russian, Ukraine, Turkish, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Bulgarian, Estonian, Polish.
  7. Price: $299. Sold by Jinke.
  8. Internal OS: Linux. Allegations going on that they’re using a modified Linux GPL kernel without sharing the source code.
  9. Also sold as IBook V3, BeBook, WalkBook, and Papyre 6.1.
  10. The picture is courtesy jmerelo on flickr.

    Hanlin eReader V3 - a kindle competitor

    Hanlin eReader V3 - a kindle competitor

  11. Overall Thoughts – Great document and language support. A worthy competitor.

Sony Reader PRS-700 Vs Kindle

  1. Based on eInk technology that is a version ahead of the one the Kindle uses, and has touch screen. Touch Screen allows for notes and it has a virtual keyboard. 
  2. Price: $399. Sold at SonyStyle.
  3. 6″ screen. 800 by 600. Edit: Same as the Kindle, except touch screen.
  4. Lots of complaints on glare and poor visibility due to the new screen. Kindle doesn’t have that issue.
  5. LED sidelight. Kindle has no sidelight.
  6. Internal OS: MontaVista Linux Professional Edition. Storage capacity: 512 MB.
  7. DRM Free Formats Supported: BBeB Book (LRF), PDF, TXT, RTF, ePub.
  8. DRM Formats Supported: BBeB Book (LRX); Secure PDF and ePub.
  9. Music Formats Supported: mp3, aac.
  10. Image Formats Supported: JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP.
  11. In December 2008 Sony revealed that 300,000 Sony Readers had been sold globally since device launch in Oct 2006.

    Sony PRS-700 Home Screen

    Sony PRS-700 Home Screen

  12. Overall Thoughts: Currently the strongest competitor to the Kindle. The touchscreen is a good step up. Sony has to figure out a way to enable wireless downloads to truly compete.

iRex Digital Reader Vs Kindle

  1. Great Display: 10.2″, 1024 x 1280 pixels, 16-level grey scale. The kindle has just 4 level gray scale.
  2. Price: $749 for the 1000S Model. (it’s 499 euros – so it really should be $666). Available at iRexShop.
  3. There is a basic 1000 model with no touchscreen, and there are two advanced models with cool features – Wacom® Penabled touch screen (1000S) and touch screen+wireless connectivity (1000SW).
  4. Storage Capacity: 1GB Removable SD card.
  5. Supported Documents: PDF, TXT, HTML.
  6. Suported DRM formats: Mobipocket PRC.
  7. Supported image formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF and BMP.
  8. Image is from their official site –

    iRe Digital Reader 1000 - High End Competitor

    iRex Digital Reader 1000 - High End Competitor

  9. Overall Thoughts: Its a great device – however, the price point aims it at a completely different demographic than the kindle, sony reader, etc. I think it’s going to end up being iRex Digital Reader Vs Plastic Logic for the higher end of the market.

PlasticLogic Reader Vs Kindle

  1. Will be available in Q2 of 2009 (first half of 2009) – Including it here since it has a gorgeous screen.
  2. PlasticLogic is a startup out of Cambridge (yeah, that Cambridge).
  3. The screen is the size of 8.5 x 11-inch paper, while being only 7 mm thick – thinner than a pad of paper. Its also flexible (or at least some of the demos show it as flexible – the final reader might not be). 
  4. Supported Documents: PlasticLogic supports Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, and Adobe PDFs.
  5. It has a touchscreen and uses gesture recognition for things like turning pages.  
  6. Targeted at Business Users. 
  7. Also working on a Colored Version that should be available in 3-5 years.  
  8. Picture snippet courtesy Brian Solis via flickr. It just amazes me that they don’t have a single straight on picture of the reader at their site. Its like looking at myspace profiles with ‘in the mirror, strange angle photos’.

    Plastic Logic Reader

    Plastic Logic Reader

  9. Overall Thoughts: This is going to be a dangerous competitor. Their screen technology is way ahead of eInk (or it seems that way). Hopefully they’ll target business competitors exclusively (at a much higher price point) and the kindle will have nothing to fear.

CyBook Gen3 Vs Kindle

  1. CyBook3 from Bookeen has the same 6″, 800 by 600 eInk screen as the kindle. 
  2. Supported Documents:  HTML, Txt, PRC, PalmDoc, PDF, Secured Mobipocket. It does not reflow pdfs or allow for zooming into pictures so a lot of PDFs won’t be readable.
  3. Supported images: JPEG, GIF, PNG . 
  4. Supported Music: mp3. 
  5. Capacity: 512 MB internal storage.
  6. Price: $350, currently sold out.
  7. The picture is courtesy neuron1210 from flickr.

    CyBook Gen 3 - Kindle killer?

    CyBook Gen 3 - Kindle killer?

  8. Overall Thoughts – For some reason I cannot fathom this is my favorite out of the Kindle competitors. I really like the design, and the pictures I found on flickr all show a good screen that looks good in the device.

Some of the readers I’ve excluded include the Fujitsu Flepia (because a single reader costs the equivalent of $1,726), the Phillips Readius (its more of a portable ereader given its roll-up 5″ screen), and the iRex iLiad (because its successor, the iRex Digital Reader, has been covered).

My overall conclusion is that the Kindle beats all its competitors when it comes to core functionality as an ebook reader, especially given the wireless delivery and ease of use. However, advancing the technology and improving the looks are two areas where the kindle needs to play catch up – it’ll be interesting to see whether there will be any big technology changes in the Kindle 2. If not, by the end of 2009, the kindle might lose its status as the best ebook reader on the market.

11 Responses

  1. I think the goal would be to get better ebook readers on the market to drive competition. If Kindle was it, most likely there wouldn’t be a new version in a few months. And the price probably would not have dropped. The way to guarantee a good product category is to have competition. Even in a dominated market like MP3 players, the iPod has a lot of competitors that drive it to be better.

  2. agreed – the more and the better kindle’s competitors are, the better the kindle will end up being.

  3. I know that the screen technology is different, but don’t you rate the iphone as an e-reader competitor?

    I know a lot more people with iphones who have downloaded e-reader applications than I do people that have bought an e-reader that costs the same (or more) and doesn’t do as much.

    http://stupidblogname.com/2008/10/the-enhanced-book/

  4. I think all of these devices are doomed for the scrapheap. E-ink is just too clunky for generations used to fully active video. The killer app is going to be a large-screen iPhone with full text handling and internet browsing capability. Once a modern device user gets a screen with buttons in his hands he is just not satisfied with the limited functionality of these primitive devices, and why should he be? Bring on the multi-use device and people will adopt it by the millions.

  5. PRS-505 is thinner, lighter and better looking than others.
    For Sony there’s an open source software called Calibre

    http://calibre.kovidgoyal.net/

    And a good online converter at http://www.lib2go.com

  6. Yes… wouldn’t a larger device with a nice bright color screen and a keyboard be wonderful. Perhaps one that you could sit on top of your lap. I wonder what they will it…

  7. I’d really like to buy one of these and just see how it works for me but another little techno voice in my head keeps screaming that and eReader app will be available soon for next generation iPod Touch systems with 7-8″ screens, wi-fi delivery and the design muscle of Apple seems to make sense.

  8. [...] Έχει γράψει ο Vrypan και όσοι θέλουν να δουν 2-3 πραγματάκια για τα ebook που κυκλοφορούν υπάρχει μια συγκριτική παρουσίαση εδώ. [...]

  9. Dark Bob and H White: You are missing the point of these devices. Companies like Plastic Logic are trying to replace the 1000’s of 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of paper that I read everyday with a single reusable device. Reading from a laptop or iPhone is not and efficient and puts stain on the eyes.

    They are also hoping that this will be the transition device to move away from archaic newspapers that continue to lose money everyday.

    H White is correct though, think how amazing a device like the Plastic Logic reader would be if it had:

    – Color E Ink Screen
    – Video/Web Browser Capability
    – touch screen/stylus to write notes hight docs, etc.
    – Ability to turn on/off back light to reduce eye strain

  10. In looking at these devices, it is something that we have seen on Star Trek (Next Generation).

    I like the Sony Readers touch screen but also the wireless capacity of the Kindle. Two sizes are needed, a six inch that would be like a paperback book (ok with it being B/W and not color) and a larger 8.5×11 inch for business and newspapers (should be color).

    What will make this take off are multiple ventors as it takes at least two to make a market, especially if they share the same technology. If the newspapers or book publishers would fund these like the cellular companies do for cell phones then the market would really take off. If you think about it most cell phones are as expensive as these devices. What makes them cheap is that the cellular phone companies offer a reduced price for the phone if you subscribe. So if I subscribed to a newpaper for two years, I should be able to get a Kindle at a reduced cost.

    It also looks like these devices will have some features that were in PDAs (ie Palm Pilot). That also makes them useful. However I think that many of the SmartPhones will be too small for viewing most books or newspapers so there will be a need for these. Add to that the ability to look up things on the Web or down load office paperwork from the workstation and you will have a useful device.

  11. Don’t forget to mention that with iRex, you can get access to over 1,000 full content digital newspapers from PressDislay.com.

    Right now Kindle has how many? 57 or so? And those aren’t digital editions – just the free stuff they put on their websites.

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