The Amazon Kindle is on several gadget gift lists this year, and why not? After all, it's a sleekly thin e-reader, has a nice price (now $259 — with no monthly subscriptions or contracts, thank you very much), its wireless service just went global, and there's nothing else like it, right?
Not so fast. Before you pop that Kindle in your shopping cart, take a look at some of the many other e-readers out there. There are actually a lot more than you might think, and each one has something it does better than the Kindle. Continue e-reading for more.
1. Barnes & Noble Nook
Required reading: B&N unveiled its response to the Kindle last month. It was a bit late to the game, but it covers all the bases, matching the Kindle's price, adding an easy way to lend titles to other Nooks, and building it all into one hot little gadget (the Nook sports a small color LCD for browsing titles). You can preorder now, and it's supposed to be on shelves in "high-volume" stores after Thanksgiving.
Strongest feature: Barnes & Noble's million-strong selection of e-books means it has access to plenty of titles that aren't on the Kindle (Amazon's e-book selection tops out at 380,000).
2. Sony Reader Daily Edition
Required reading: Sony's latest e-reader is a huge upgrade from the previous generation, boasting a 7-inch, 600 x 1024-pixel screen, flexible page layout and a wireless network connection. The touchscreen is nice to have, too, and Sony says it'll work with either your finger or the supplied stylus
(even if it needs a stylus). Preorder now, though — Sony says it won't start shipping until December 18th.
Strongest feature: The ability to check e-books out of the library via its wireless 3G connection.
3. IREX DR800SG
Required reading: There's no physical keyboard on the IREX DR800SG, and that's a good thing. Instead, it has room for an 8.1-inch display that can call up an onscreen keyboard anytime you need it. Compatibility with the open ePub format, access to Barnes & Noble's e-bookstore, and connection to Verizon's 3G network all make the IREX one of the most "universal" e-readers out there. However, it was supposed to be shipping last month, and it's not out yet.
Strongest feature: That big screen, two inches larger than Kindle's and has touch capability (albeit with a stylus).
4. Kindle DX
Required reading: Granted, the DX is part of the Kindle line, but for some it might be a better choice than the vanilla variety. The relatively huge (9.7-inch) screen is better for anyone who cares more about readability than portability — meaning students, newspaper junkies, and professionals that need volumes of info at their fingertips. Text-to-speech functionality is helpful when you need to multi-task.
Strongest feature: The DX's big screen with 1,200 x 824-pixel resolution can't be beat.
Required reading: The Cool-er is certainly cute-er than most other e-readers out there, available in eight colors, including fabulously hot pink. There's only 1GB of storage, but it has an SD card slot for more. There's no wireless, but once it's plugged into a PC or Mac, over a million titles are available to you, according to the company.
Strongest feature: Ultra portability. The Cool-er weighs just over 6 ounces (Kindle weighs 10.2).
6. Sony Reader Pocket
Required reading: The baby of the Sony Reader line, the Reader Pocket includes many of the same features as its Daily Edition brother (like ePub and PDF viewing), just without the wireless abilities. The screen measures only 5 inches, but the battery is still good for 7,500 page turns.
Strongest feature: Did we mention it's cheap?
7. Cybook Opus
Required reading: The Cybook Opus is made by a company called Bookeen, which says it's been in the e-reader game since 1998. Whether that counts for anything is up to you, but there's no question the Opus packs a lot into this 5.3-ounce device: a 5-inch screen, a microSD card slot for extra storage (on top of the 1GB internal), and an accelerometer for easy landscape viewing.
Strongest feature: An E Ink screen with 200-dpi resolution is a pretty impressive spec — most others are in the 150- to 170-dpi range.
8. Ectaco jetBook
Required reading: The jetBook is pretty format-friendly (it reads ePub, TXT, PDF and RTF files, plays MP3s, and you can view photos on it), though its SD card slot can only read cards up to 2GB. Good thing e-books don't take up much space!
Strongest feature: The reflective TFT screen technology, which boasts higher contrast and faster response than E Ink — and makes the jetBook dirt cheap. Of course, the texture is a little different, but if you can't see the difference, you could save a bundle.
Price: $180 ($150 for AA-battery version)
Decide which e-reader you want? Then check out one of our other gift guides, part of 12 Days of Gadgets here on DVICE:
Day One: 7 gadget gifts that will never go out of style
Day Two: 6 tech gifts billionaires are giving each other this year
Day Three: Giving a Kindle? Check out these 8 other e-readers first
Day Four: 8 offensive gadget gifts for the frenemies in your life
Day Five: 6 absurd gadget gifts your girlfriend will dump you over
Day Six: 5 classic sci-fi gadgets guaranteed to please your geekiest beloved
Day Seven: The DVICE guide to buying an HDTV in the off season
Day Eight: 7 awesome tech toys you can't buy in America
Day Nine: 7 gifts steampunks are giving each other this year
Day Ten: 6 gifts for if we lived in the retro tomorrow of yesterday
Day Eleven: 7 tech gifts you'll have to wait until next year to buy
Day Twelve: 5 holiday tech gifts that just might save the planet