Fondles: Kindle Basic, Sony Reader WiFi, And More

I went to Best Buy this morning to see if they had the new Sony Reader WiFi to fondle.

When I turned the corner to the eBook device display, I was hit by this:

The Kindle Basic! WTF!

I had no idea that this would be in stores at all — or so soon! I don’t recall Bezos ever mentioning the new Kindles going to their retail partners so soon.

It looks like an overgrown Palm Tungsten E PDA!

Shut up. It was a sample already installed on it.

I was, frankly, shocked by it.

1) It didn’t feel cheap to me at all.
2) It was snappy. I didn’t feel any sluggishness at all.
3) The side buttons are now good.
4) The 4-way button is better than the one on the Kindle 3.
5) Page turns are the fastest I’ve ever seen with eInk.
6) The software looked well done.

Amazon has it running a demo — which can be exited for actual use– that clearly explains how it works and invites people to try it. The demo is interactive too.

This next photo is for Angela James. She’s a Phinean/Ferbian.

I’ll have more to say about the Kindle Basic at the end of this post.

Moving on …

… I knew those Gift Cards existed, but not these:

After all the posts I did about the importance of Gift Cards, you’d think Kobo’s generally-inept PR people would at least tell me Kobo finally has them, right? No. They are that inept.

Oh look at this …

… it’s the Sony Tablet …

… and no one cares. Next!

Ok, let me give it a paragraph. It feels cheap, the form factor is stupid, not clever, the side port cover is audaciously cheap and badly-engineered, and there is nothing here that someone can’t get with another craptastic Android tablet — or in a useful form with the much-cheaper Kindle Fire. Like I said: No one cares. Next!

Look at this:

That is not a mirage. Those are HP TouchPad accessories. OK then. Next!

I went to J&R next, hoping to fondle the new 5″ Samsung Galaxy Player WiFi 5 or WTF they’re calling it now. Despite J&R having a ton of cheap-ass Android tablets that are now dead-dead-dead because of the Kindle Fire, that Samsung was not yet one of them.

So, I got to play with this:

Sony has done the incredible here. Made something that photographs bad and looks just as bad when seen in person!

The Reader WiFi and the Sony Tablet share the same trait: crappy plastic. Whoever decides what plastics Sony devices have should be fired. The guy has no taste whatsoever. Everything is beginning to feel cheap and flimsy.

There is just no other way of putting this: I’m very disappointed with this thing. In the move to Android, Sony seems to have lost its way or its entire mind. It has an overall very sluggish feel and aspects of drawing the screen are poorly done. Whereas on the $79 Kindle Basic, drawing screen regions is smooth and snappy, on the near double-priced Sony, the screen region drawing is very slow and poorly executed. Even the Nook Touch does it better.

After all my bitching about how people should have tapped on Settings->About, I finally got to. And there was no mention of Android anywhere I could find!

As for that Red — it’s horrid. Depending on how the light hits it, it gyrates between pink and purple! The gloss is very smudgy and makes the device look tasteless, like the kind of thing designed to attract idiots who don’t read at all. The physical buttons are fine and aside from the fugly gloss and shiny plastic, it seems well-built and the touchscreen is responsive — when the software itself isn’t being sluggish, which is a lot of the time.

The software just feels, looks, and acts like it was done by amateurs. It’s just astonishing that a company like Sony could have let that be released. That two companies that have specialized in books have kicked Sony’s ass with better eInk software should be sounding the Red Alert there (although I think the Red Alert has been clanging for so long at Sony that everyone has grown deaf to it).

I didn’t enjoy fondling this like I did the Nook Touch.

And especially not like I did the Kindle Basic.

The Nook Touch and even the cheapest Kindle, the Basic, feel like an improvement over their previous model. With the Sony Reader WiFi, it feels like a degeneration of the previous model.

Anyway, fondling the Kindle Basic and the Sony Reader WiFi on the same day, within an hour of one another, opened my eyes a bit.

It no longer makes sense for me to give much of a damn about ePub reading devices. Amazon will kill all of them off. The Kindle Basic is just better engineered — software and hardware — than either the Nook Touch and especially the Sony Reader WiFi. And it costs less than both. I don’t think many people will care that it lacks a touch screen — it’s $79 with spam. That price is just a no-brainer, even with spam. And if they want a touchscreen, they can get one from Amazon too. With 3G also!

I was enthusiastic about the Sony Reader WiFi as a cheap eInk Android sorta-tablet, should it get rooted. But now I think that would be nothing but a waste of my time.

If I want Android, I’d be better served with the 5″ Samsung Galaxy whatever. I wouldn’t have to root, I wouldn’t have to go nuts over software compatibility, and I’d know that Graffiti for Android would work — and help it to become a replacement for my LifeDrive.

Amazon has the books. Amazon will always have the books. You can’t even pre-order the Steve Jobs bio on the Sony Reader Store, for fuck’s sake. What kind of future do you think Sony’s eBook efforts have with that kind of omission?

I’ve said it before, but after seeing how well-made the Kindle Basic was today, it confirms it for me: Amazon has won eBooks. The rest of you pack up and go home.

And if that offends the ePub pushers, go after Amazon to adopt ePub, not me for stating what’s so damned obvious to everyone else.

8 Comments

Filed under Amazon Kindle, Android, eInk Devices, Sony Reader

8 responses to “Fondles: Kindle Basic, Sony Reader WiFi, And More

  1. Bea

    Mike, you always make me laugh, and I enjoy your thoughts on e-readers and eBooks. I may need to go to Best Buy and do some fondling.

  2. I just picked up a Sony Reader Wifi and thought I’d mention my reasons…

    I would have bought a Nook Simple Touch. But I wanted something that could play mp3 files (I get distracted easily when reading on the train).

    The Kindles are admittedly better technology, but I don’t think there’s anything particularly bad about the Sony Reader.

    I will buy a Kindle when they support epub. Seriously, why can’t Amazon support epub in addition to their own proprietary format? Amazon’s music store settled on MP3 as an open format when it was their chance to stick it to Apple, but now they’re the 800-lb gorilla in books, they don’t dare let an open format get further traction.

    I’m not going to lock myself into any particular company’s ereader store or format – Amazon, B&N, or Sony. Google Books is the only reliable source I buy ebooks from where I can read them on whatever device I want.

    • mikecane

      It wouldn’t make any difference if Amazon supported ePub. Apple does. You still can’t put that book on your Sony Reader. It’s the DRM that does that. Amazon could support ePub but would wrap it in their own DRM. Like Apple, they’re not about to give Adobe a piece of their per-book action through DRM fees.

  3. Geoff

    Someone please start a Bookster website outside the U.S. The only effing way we’ll get a non-prop format is if the publishers get RAPED from people STEALING their books…and hopefully then publishers start selling books at a price that ACCOUNTS FOR THE GIANT SAVINGS THEY REALIZE in e-books production (namely: CTRL + V, CTRL + P). And without DRM.

    Paying $10 for an e-book as if it costs the same to produce, when in actuality it can be duplicated for less than a penny is outrageous. Paying $10 for a book that might be taken away from you on no notice (1984) is total 100% bullshit. I hope 2-3 publishers go out of business completely.

    Mike is right–in the short term Amazon won with their bullshit prop format, and there’s nothing to be done but wait until the VHS version of e-books AND A HARDWARE reader come along.

    • mikecane

      Publishers can still fight back. They only lack the damn will. A Hulu for books is still possible. As for reasonable prices, I wouldn’t count on it until they change their way of doing business. Unfortunately, their idea of that so far is to sucker wannabes.

  4. AJ

    Just got to play with the Reader WiFi and I’m going to pick it up later. Demo unit literally arrived this morning, and I was half an hour too early for their actual inventory shipment. First I’ve heard that they’re showing up here in Canada.

    You’re right about the crappy housing, but the screen was very responsive on this unit. Unit was snappy. I can only compare it to the Kobo Touch as that’s the only other touchscreen reader here that I can play with, so I’m not sure if the Nook Touch or new Kindle are that much better.

    Handwriting over the book text won me over. That’s a feature I really like, and it was very responsive with or without the stylus. No mention of Android, not even in the legal bits. Firmware v1.0.00.0910.

  5. wd

    I have the new Sony Reader Wi FI and its great. The plastic is just shiny but in no way flimsy and leaves no fingerprints or glare on it or the screen. The pages turn super easy which is great. I even put a screen protector of my own as I like to do on all my electronics and it did not take away from the touch sensitivity at all. I loved the direct links to the Readerstore and my public library. I saved my public library and check out free publiclibrary ebooks super fast wirelessly and they download onto the reader in 3 seconds. Just tap a word which brings up the dictionary at thebottom and options to notetake, hightlight, etc. The pinch and expand and font types and sizes are great. I also bought the standard cover and its high qualify. There is a plastic framing inside and the reader snaps into so its nice and secure. I like all the book choices available to those that are compatible with Sony formats. I have not seen any sluggishness. The touch is very responsive and everything is a light touch away and I like the ease of everything. This is my third Sony ereader, and only because I upgrade and I have never had any problems with my readers and the quality has always been great. You get what you pay for. And buying something just because its cheap and has celebrity sponsorship does not make it a better product.

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