The Everyday Researcher – Part 6

1st June, 2011

A re-cap on my previous ‘everyday researcher’ blogs: I’ve defined my problem (want an e-reader), collected and analysed the evidence and now it’s time to act upon what I know. I’m certainly better informed than I was when I started and I’ve got a clearer picture of the products available and what they have to offer. I’ve seen pictures of some products and been fortunate enough to have handled others. I’ve read several dozen articles, some written by technology professionals, some written by those who’ve already purchased products, so I have seen what other’s consider to be the pros and cons. The only thing I regret not being able to do is road testing the products for a week or two in a real world situation as this would enable me to see which product best suits my lifestyle.

Armed with the evidence I think back to my original problem of deciding which e-reader to buy. I’ve looked at e-readers and come to the conclusion that there’s little real difference between the Sony and the Kindle. From the reviews I’ve read it seems the Kindle offers slightly more but the Sony does what it does much better. The only real difference therefore is the price, somewhere that the Kindle has a marked advantage. In my opinion the Kindle is probably a slightly better option for someone that just wants to read novels but the Sony may have a slight edge for those who want to read technical manuals.

However, in my investigations it soon became apparent that I should not discount tablet PCs because of the additional features they offer, e.g. video, camera, productivity, games, etc. While tablet PCs offer more features they also have their drawbacks; the most notable of which is a much shorter battery lifespan and the problem of using them outside on a bright sunny day. To be blunt the screen on an e-reader places less strain on the eyes, is better suited for those who just want to read and is much better for outside use.

Also I got the feeling that while considerable investment is going into developing ever more powerful tablet PCs there seems little prospect of major advances in e-reader technology. For me the one thing the current crop of e-readers lack is a colour screen, something I personally would like to have but which does not currently appear to be on the horizon. Also the pace of development in the tablet PC market means lots of new models are becoming available and it is possible increased competition will lead to price cuts or special deals over the coming months.

So which e-reader am I going to buy? Well, considering my research and contextualising what I’ve learned (budget and timing) I’ve decided to wait a bit longer.  But while I’m waiting I’ll continue to be an ‘everyday researcher’ gathering and processing information as I narrow down the possible options. If pushed I’d have to say that my gut feeling is that I’d probably go for a tablet PC because I can do more with it but in the mean time I may drop a few hints about how an e-reader would make a nice birthday or Xmas present.