What Are Some Kindle Alternatives?

What are some Kindle alternatives?

The two Amazon Kindle devices are the best known eBook readers on the market, but the two Kindles aren’t the only fish in the eBook reader sea. As with any major tech purchase, you should shop around before plunking down hundreds of books on a Kindle.

What are some Kindle alternatives? Listed here are five options to consider if you’re looking for an eBook reader but aren’t sure the Kindle is right for you.

Kindle App for PC / iPhone / iPod Touch

What if you’ve already got one fancy gadget you use on a daily basis and aren’t really in the market for another one? If you’re a diehard iPhone fanatic you can still enjoy the Kindle experience.

The Kindle App for iPhone / iPod Touch and Kindle for PC offer the Kindle’s software for devices you already own. Using these apps, you can access the Kindle store featuring the same hundreds of thousands of titles for cheap.

Not only can you use all the features of Kindle without purchasing the hardware, but Amazon’s Whispersync automatically synchronizes your last page read between devices. If you want the eBook reader experience without investing in another device, the Kindle apps for PC and iPhone are your best alternative.

Barnes & Noble Nook

The Amazon Kindle

The Amazon Kindle

The Nook is Barnes & Noble’s attempt to compete with Amazon’s Kindle. The nook offers the same basic tech as the Kindle. Main differences? It runs off the Android software platform, best known as the OS behind the T-Mobile MyTouch and Motorola Droid cell phones.

The Nook’s screen uses the same electronic paper display as the Kindle, but instead of a keyboard the Nook features a color touch screen. The nook has an expandable flash memory card slot and a user-replaceable battery, two things the Kindle lacks. The Nook also features “LendMe,” which allows some e-books to be lent out to other nook users for a period of time.

While the Nook’s hardware is fancier than the Kindle, the software has earned lukewarm reviews. Early users have complained about the device’s sluggish performance when compared with the Kindle. These are issues shared by the first generation Kindle that were corrected with the release of Kindle 2.

The Nook is still in its “beta release”, and future software updates are likely to correct the speed and usability issues.

The Sony Portable Reader

The Sony family of eBook readers is another Kindle alternative worth mentioning. It uses the same E Ink brand of electronic paper display as the Kindle and Nook, and the newest models feature the same ultra-crisp 16-level grayscale resolution. The most recent PRS-900 model has specifications similar to the Kindle, although it is priced a bit higher and has less onboard memory.

The PRS-900 features a touch screen and the ability to view two pages side-by-side, similar to a printed book. These are both capabilities the Kindle lacks, but some users have reported the touch screen creates additional glare problems most electronic paper displays don’t have.

Sony portable readers are also excellent at handling PDF files, so if you’re going to be using your reader for commercial or scholastic purposes you may want to consider a Sony reader over a Kindle. Physically, the Sony readers are sleeker and more attractive than the Kindle — they come in a variety of colors, are slimmer and weigh slightly less.

iRex iLiad

The iRex iLiad is a Linux-based e-book reader, offering advanced features to the tech savvy user who is unimpressed by the Kindle. (Read a full post about iRex digital readers here.)

The iRex is excellent for business or educational use, as it handles PDF files even better than the Sony reader family. The screen is extra large–a little over eight inches–and offers the crispest and easiest viewing experience.

The iLiad also uses the same electronic paper display as all the other eBook readers profiled here with 16-level grayscale graphics that don’t cause eyestrain.

The iLida has the capability of using a stylus to write notes and control the reader’s functions. One downside here? Be careful with your stylus–if you lose it you can’t just use your fingers to control the device like with an iPhone (or the Nook).

The iLiad uses the Mobipocket format of e-books, which is actually also owned by Amazon. The Mobipocket store has access to over 50,000 titles, far fewer than on the Kindle (which can also access Mobipocket). The iLiad also has an expansion slot for a Compact Flash memory card to increase the device’s memory, and it can connect to your Mac or PC with a USB cable.

Entourage Systems eDGe

Although the eDGe isn’t due to arrive in stores until February of 2010 (the company is already taking pre-orders), it looks like a promising alternative to the Kindle. Manufactured by Entourage Systems, the eDGe seeks to combine two of the most popular electronic devices of recent years, the eBook reader and the netbook.

The eDGe is a dual-screen device, featuring a 9.7 inch E Ink electronic paper display on one side for reading e-books or PDFs. Like the iLiad, users can use a stylus to draw diagrams or take notes. The iLida boasts a 10.1 inch LCD screen on the other side of the device where users can surf the web and check email. The two screens are hinged together so that the device can be folded closed, opened like a book, or completely flipped around so that the E Ink screen is on one side and the LCD is on the other.

If you decide to skip the Kindle alternatives and just go ahead and buy the Kindle at Amazon, we’ll get a tiny commission from them if you use our link.

This is part of a series of blog posts we’re publishing about the Kindle. The other posts in this series include: