A few weeks ago I ordered a Kindle 2 from Amazon- and I have been enjoying it and I have been getting back into enjoying reading. I started off with a book I read many years ago- Dragonlance - Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Tracy Hickman. Since this book is not yet available for the Kindle, I had to find an alternate source that provided in in .txt format.
Reading is very pleasant on the Kindle, but it is also very limited- particularly by the formats that the Kindle can support: TXT, PRC/MOBI and AZW (Amazon proprietary format). Especially troubling is the lack of PDF format support. Of course, I can email a PDF to '@free.kindle.com' and receive a AZW format back from Amazon, but this is not the easiest thing to do and it often is mis-formatted (particularly where images are involved). I assume Amazon is trying the Apple iTunes approach by locking their reader down to Amazon formats- or very generic (TXT) formats.
I decided to look around at alternatives before my return period expires with Amazon; $380 for an eBook reader is still fairly expensive.
The Sony units are $300 and $400; the later having a touch-screen (and a lot of glare) and were again limited to a few formats; BBeB (LRF/LRX), PDF, EPUB, TXT, RTF. The addition of PDF and RTF were good, but the PRS-700 is way over priced for what it does.
The Ectaco JetBook has a 5" VGA (480x640) screen (compared to a 6" 600x800 screen on all the other unit)- which instantly turned me off to the product.
My final choice was the Aztak EZ Reader (on sale for $250):
The Aztak EZ Reader supported a quite few more formats: PDF, DOC, RTF, HTML, TXT, WOLF, CHM, FB2, EPUB, LIT, PRC/MOBI, RAR, ZIP. The screen is about the same as the Kindle 2 and it comes with an assortment of accessories- USB cable, wall charger, 2GB SD Card- and a protective sleeve (which is and additional $30+ for the Kindle 2)!
I immediatley deleted the 130+ free books that were on the included card and began to copy over a variety of eBook formats that are available via Usenet. All of them worked well- including CHM help files. Several of the PDFs and other formats include indexes which are accessible via the '7' key on the Aztak.
After I found where I left off in the DragonLance book, I was able to easily pickup and continue reading. The forward/back buttons aren't in the best locations but they do function.
A label on the back battery cover indicates that the 'EZ Reader is the North American name for the Jinke Hanlin V3'; a visit to the Chinese Jinke web site confirms they are physically identical. A little further delving into the support web site finds that Jinke has a much more refined firmware and additional applications such as synchronization software, a boot screen logo maker and a WOLF format printer.
I downloaded the latest V3 firmware and followed the update instructions; extract the firmware to the root of the SD card, power off the reader and power on while holding down the v+ (volume up) button. After a few minutes the firmware was done and the system rebooted.
Things I didn't think I would like about the Aztak:
- 4 color grayscale (vs. 16 on the Kindle 2)
- a 200Mhz CPU (vs. a 532Mhz on the Kindle 2)
- Only 3 zoom/font sizes (2 portrait, one in landscape)
In spite of my apprehensions the text is very readable and the page turns seem almost as fast as the Kindle 2.
A few things that I do like about the Aztak over the Kindle:
- Ability to use any TTF font
- SD card expansion (up to 4GB- no SHDC support)
- Native PDF support
I was planning on loading my frequently used motherboard manuals (I rebuild systems on the weekend for fun) and the Aztak does a decent job of letting me view them:
For $130 less, I believe I am going to return the Kindle and keep the EZ Reader. The Kindle may have an integrated wireless card and web browser, but it is very doubtful I would order much from Amazon. The Kindle may look better than the Aztak (and have a better button layout) but I will take the native PDF format support over the other features any day- and still have $130 left over.
The question now is what will I buy with the $370 credit I am going to receive from Amazon?