Amazon Kindle 3
For the third-generation Kindle, Amazon addressed several flaws that had marred earlier models. The vastly improved Amazon Kindle 3 has less heft, faster page turns, a better button design, and a higher-contrast screen than its predecessors. We also like the new 6-inch E-Ink Pearl display, with its faster screen refresh rates. One shortcoming of the e-reader is its weak handling of PDFs; but for the most part, the Kindle 3 is a solid choice. Choices include a Wi-Fi-only model and a combined Wi-Fi and 3G model.
Available colors: white and graphite
Price: $139 (Wi-Fi only), $189 (Wi-Fi and 3G)
Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-350SC
The updated Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-350 looks very different from its predecessor, the PRS-300. It ditched the four-way navigation buttons, added touchscreen capabilities, and now supports Google Books. The e-reader's 5-inch antiglare screen has an E-Ink Pearl display with impressive contrast. The Pocket Edition is lightweight, at 5.47 ounces, and it comes with 2GB of onboard memory--enough to hold as many as 1200 publications. The size is great for a small-screen e-reader, but the price is a bit steep for a model that lacks 3G and Wi-Fi.
Available colors: pink and silver
Sony Reader Daily Edition
The Sony Reader Daily Edition is the only Sony e-reader with wireless access to content via AT&T's 3G wireless network, which supports wireless delivery of newspapers as well as books from Sony's Reader Store. Apart from 3G, the Daily Edition has a large 7-inch-diagonal E-Ink touchscreen that displays 16 shades of gray, as well as built-in applications for viewing images, playing music, and taking notes. Unfortunately, the 2GB of onboard memory might not be enough for everything.
Amazon Kindle DX
For display quality, the revamped Amazon Kindle DX takes the cake. We like the latest-generation DX's crisp, clear text and large format. Its new graphite-colored chassis makes reading content easier on the eyes. Another welcome feature is Twitter and Facebook support, so you can easily post passages to share with your social-network friends.
Barnes and Noble Nook
The sleek Barnes and Noble Nook excels as a touchscreen e-reader. An LCD touchscreen strip located below the 6.5-inch E-Ink electronic paper display provides an innovative way to navigate the device and adds a splash of color that most E-Readers lack. Despite its impressive design and wireless capabilities, though, it's a bit on the sluggish side and has suffered from some software issues in the past.
Price: $149 (Wi-Fi only), $199 (Wi-Fi and 3G)
Spring Design Alex E-Reader
Though the Spring Design Alex eReader may not be very well known, it certainly performs well against better-known competing models. A 6-inch, eight-shade-grayscale E-Ink display dominates the upper portion of the device; beneath that, a second, 3.5-inch, Android-based LCD screen adds e-mail capabilities and video playback, as well as other Android apps. Once Spring Design introduces an on-board bookstore and 3G wireless--and addresses some navigational issues--this product will really shine.
Available colors: charcoal and white
If you're looking for a budget e-reader, check out the Kobo eReader. Specs include a 6-inch E-ink display with eight-level grayscale, ePub and PDF support, and a battery life of two weeks. The device doesn't link directly to an online bookstore, so you must download your reading material through an onboard application, via Kobo's Website, or from an SD card. Overall performance is somewhat slow, however, and the e-reader's button design makes it difficult to navigate.
Available colors: white/lilac, white/silver, onyx/onyx
Aluratek Libre eBook Reader Pro
The intuitive, no-frills Aluratek Libre eBook Reader Pro is easy on the wallet. Features include a 5-inch nonbacklit Toshiba LCD screen, navigation buttons, and choices for text magnification. It lacks Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, so you have to download publications manually via mini-USB or an SDHC card. On the other hand, it comes with 100 classics preinstalled.
Available colors: black and white
The Pandigital Novel gallantly attempts to be a combined e-reader and general-use tablet, but the product isn't quite there yet. It sports a full-color 7-inch LCD touchscreen, has built-in Wi-Fi, and is an Android-based machine. It comes preloaded with several reading-oriented Android apps, such as Barnes and Noble's Reader and Adobe eBooks, but as yet it lacks an on-board app store. Potential problems include less-than-satisfactory screen quality and fuzzy text.