30 October 2010

About Those E-Readers

I want an e-reader.  Desperately.  Enough to make what is, for me, a large financial commitment for a relatively new device and to continue that commitment with future purchasing.  This is a device I would use constantly, researching, reading for school, and feeding my insatiable sci-fi/fantasy habit.  So why don't I own one yet?

Over the years, with an increasing understanding of finances, I have come to be frugally minded.  I track where every dollar of our money goes.  Later this morning, I'll be doing the weekly accounting as well as setting up the few bills for November that are not on auto-payment.  But this emphasis on the value of money leads me to an interesting mindset: I believe very strongly in buying the things you want.  No, really!

The worst purchases I have ever made are, without a doubt, the ones where I compromised quality for cost.  Not because they were a bad decision or didn't meet the criteria I had set out, but rather because I hated them.  Hated that they represented my inability to obtain what I wanted.  Every time I look at a purchase like that, I think about the compromise I made and what I gave up, rather than the value that I added or how much I like the product.  As my favorite personal finance blog says, money is mental and emotional as much as it is rational.

Hence, my husband and I have a strategy for managing the emotional side of money: buy what you want.  I'm not saying go impulse spend or go into debt, but save the money for the product you want, not the one that's 50% of the cost for 75% of the features (technically a better value but not satisfying!).  This is the same reason that we own and use our 27" CRT television rather than buying a big screen TV.  We want one of the best on the market and we'll wait until we've saved the cash for it, rather than wasting money on an inferior product.

So back to those e-readers.  I was excited about Barnes & Noble's announcement of the NOOKcolor this week.  It seemed to be the e-reader I was waiting for.  After looking through the specs, however, it's not even close.  Here are my criteria in a rough order of precedence:
  1. E-ink screen, not LCD.  I want to read in bright sunlight on car trips.
  2. Multiple file support, including .pdf, .doc, .docx, and .epub.  Others are a plus, but those 4 are required for my continual use.
  3. Color.  If I'm reading a .pdf for school, I need to see the definition on graphs.  Yes, there is a company out there that has developed a color e-ink screen; they're "in talks" with manufacturers.
  4. Note taking.  I'm creating an electronic commonplace book for myself and I need to be able to move quotes from books or articles to OneNote.
  5. Expandable storage.  I'm a book acquisition nut and one day I'm going to blow through the device's limit, especially with all the public domain books that are available for free.
  6. Easy to use.  This includes understandable menus and fast refresh rates for quick page changes.
  7. 3G.  Wi-fi is great, but if you want me to impulse buy books on a road trip, 3G is a must.
  8. Web-surfing.  I don't need to do extensive web searches, but access to an online dictionary, Facebook, Wikipedia, my blog, my email, and blogs I follow are a must.
  9. Other pluses: .mp3 player, long battery life, nifty accessories, ability to lend e-books.
It's really not much to ask, considering that all of these features are available on some e-reader device.  The problem?  They aren't available on the same device.  The Kindle misses #2, 3, 5, & some of 9.  The Nook misses #3, 6, & 8.  NOOKcolor misses #1, some of 9, & possibly 6.

I hope that some manufacturer wises up soon and realizes what could be done with an all-inclusive e-reader.  In any case, I'll be reserving my cash until MY e-reader appears.


  1. I wish I could wait for them to figure it out... but I can't! I figure I will have to upgrade eventually, so I'll get the best of what I want now... lol, I'm like 2yr old where you say "you can have 2 m&ms now or a bag later" and I choose the 2 :)

  2. I keep going back and forth on that. I know there's always something better around the corner and the only thing I was ever vaguely an "early adopter" for was Nintendo gaming systems. But then I think about what's wrong with the available systems and I stop myself.

    Actually, George found me some freeware the other day that would convert any ebook file into another format. That almost convinces me to get a Kindle, because my biggest hold up there is the lack of support for epub files.