51wrIVYfMBL.jpgI love the iPad despite its heft, and although I never warmed to the nook’s mini-LCD touch panel, I really like the look of the new full-color nook announced last month. That said, the venerable product testing nonprofit Consumer Reports says the Kindle is still the best all-around ebook device at the end of 2010. (It said the same thing in May.)

The latest review details are behind a paywall, but a reader on the Amazon discussion forums says these are the final scores as printed in the December 2010 issue of the magazine. (Higher is better.)

Kindle 3G/Wi-Fi 72
Kindle Wi-Fi 68
Kindle DX 67
nook 56
Alex 49
Kobo 40

CR also has some good general advice for ereader shoppers. The magazine says that “Wi-Fi should suffice for everyone except bookworms who want the unlimited [3G] access,” and that you should “think twice about readers… that lack any wireless connectivity. Such models require a USB connection or use of a memory card to load new content, which is a significant inconvenience.”

Via Chris Walters’ Booksprung blog


  1. Last I bothered to look at Apple’s iPad ads they promote its ability to do media, run apps, and cure the common cold, but make no mention of it being an ebook reader. Consumer Reports is just taking Apple at their word. 🙂

    More seriously, looking at the list of reviewed readers it is clear CR was reviewing *dedicated* readers with high market visibility, not multipurpose devices or niche products. Otherwise a comprensive and honest review would require listing every smartphone and laptop PC on the market. It is hardly anti-Apple to not include an Apple product in a comparison where it doesn’t belong.

  2. @Howard: What is odd about an ebook reader comparison devoted to ebook readers only? TV reviews routinely exclude combo DVD/TVs, no?
    Receiver reviews focus on receivers, not Home-Theater-in-a-box systems.
    Printer reviews are generally separate from scanner reviews and fax machine reviews.
    Popularity or lack of same is irrelevant; setting fair parameters is both common and appropriate to the dedicated hardware *and* the multipurpose device.
    Think of it; what benefit to Apple to have the iPad included in a round-up of devices where their “reader” has the shortest battery life, heaviest weight, highest price, and is limited to indoor reading?

    Yes, you can use an iPad as an ebook reader.
    You can also use a Ferrari to haul chilldren and groceries.
    But that makes the iPad as much an ebook reader as it makes the Ferrari a minivan.

    Motor Trend doesn’t compare Ferraris (or Mustangs or Porsches) against minivans so why should Consumer Reports–a generally serious and thoughtful organization that gets no revenue from advertising (hence are in no way beholden to Apple, unlike the NYT or certain other tech reporters that shall remain nameless)–why should they break accepted industry practice to help Apple market their product to a market Apple itself isn’t actively marketting to?

    What’s to be upset over? They didn’t go out of their way to trash the iPad.
    They just (properly) ignored it because a proper set of relevant criteria would have shown it didn’t belong in this grouping and they have too much integrity to bend the rules of tech reviewing just to include it.

    It’s not as if they had a shortage of dedicated readers to review…

  3. @Howard – they designed criteria to exclude laptops? (Per Forrester Research’s latest survey, showing laptops are the most widely used e-reading platform, followed closely by Kindles, followed distantly by pretty much everything else, with the iPad tied with the Nook for last place).

  4. I get the magazine and here is the full listing and scores (criteria included: readability, versatility, responsiveness, page turns, navigation, file support)
    Kindle 3G/Wi-Fi 72
    Kindle Wi-Fi 68
    Kindle DX 67
    Nook 3G/Wi-Fi 56
    Nook Wi-Fi 53
    Pandigital Novel (12 oz weight black model) 50
    BeBook Neo 50
    Alex 49
    Pandigital Novel (19 oz white model) 48
    Viewsonic 44
    Kobo 40
    Augen Book 40

  5. iPad owners are sounding a bit paranoid here.

    iPad was not included in this CS comparison report for one very simple reason…the iPad is a MULTI-PURPOSE device and CS was comparing DEDICATED e-book readers.

    When CS compares multi-purpose tablet computers, Kindle, nook, Sony and Kobo will be excluded and I doubt you’ll see any of their owners crying foul.

  6. The truth is almost all of these devices are multipurpose. They browse the web. They play games. They read eBooks of differing formats. Come have wifi. Others not. Some have 3G. Others not. The criteria was subjective and convenient. 🙂

  7. Peter,
    Kobo is so “straightforward” it has had none of the features like Dictionary, Search, Annotations, and until recently WiFi and you think that at practically the same price as the others (due to competitive pressures) they should score higher? It’s also known to be very sluggish.

    But they have good support behind them and in some countries you can get at books you couldn’t with the other e-readers, from what I’ve seen, and the new upgrade is said to be helping it do better eventually.

    Re Sony: I saw on the CR page that the new ones are still “in testing”…

    Seems to me the Sonys should do very well, except for competitive pricing and, except for one model, the lack of wireless. It sounds pretty elegant so far in functioning and is definitely well-made. The bookstore itself is a drawback. Pricey and not well-stocked and hard to use.

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