It is no secret that I adore my ereader, if only to read fanfiction and not get computer-related eye strain. I use the Elonex 511eb (yes, I know you haven’t heard of it), which I picked up during a sale at Waterstones last year. I thought, considering the song and dance that is still going on around Sony (bad experiences) and Kindle (get off your high horse), I’d do a small run-down of a humbler device.

The good points:
1. The Elonex supports a multitude of ebook formats, more than the Sony and certainly more than the Kindle. I have managed to get most types of ebook onto this reader, though I admit that I haven’t get cracked the maze that is Amazon’s bookstore. I haven’t even managed to get the ebooks onto my computer yet; I keep being thwarted by their wireless delivery system.
2. The Elonex is very light – far lighter than the Sony 505 I used to own. This makes it very easy to hold above your head even in its case if, like me, you like to lie on your back when you read.
3. The Elonex is eaasy to use. The book is in the folder you put it in. It’s just like organising your computer files.
4. The Elonex has a search function. I’m a student so this is a big plus for me.
5. It has the longest battery life I’ve ever seen – one charge usually lasts me three months and I generally use it 6-8 hours a day, more on weekends.

The downside:
1. This ereader is not wireless. Why this bothers anyone is beyond me, but there you go.
2. There are still a few issues with compatability; UTF-8 is the preferred format, otherwise it tends to add chinese characters in odd places.
3. Getting hold of a case can be rather traumatic. In fact, even a year later, only one company seems to make cases for this particular reader: Tuff-Luv. However, from the look of the measurements, a Kindle 2 case should fit equally well. I’ll give a futher update on this when I buy a Kindle case this summer.
4. You cannot buy books from Amazon. This is actually quite a big deal; I ended up paying the full £20 for a hard copy of Glimpses, when £5 would have got me the ebook if Amazon would just start using a format we can all play with.
5. Elonex’s customer services are laughable. I was a bit confused about the cover image function when I first bought it and emailed them to ask. A year later I’m still waiting (though I figured out the problem for myself). They’re also 6 months overdue on their promised firmware update.

I admit my love for this device may have something to do with my hatred for Sony, whose ereader died on me three days after buying. Their customer service people were even more useless, pointing out that battery problems weren’t covered by the warrenty, then changing their minds when I sent a complaint to their head office. By then, I’d sent the reader back to the retailer, since I only had 30 days to return it if there were any problems. The result? I hate Sony but love Play.com. Very helpful people. Amazon’s Kindle is a bit different. I’ve never owned one but I hear you have to pay a subscription service to get your own documents on there (another side to that damn wireless capability), which I feel is a bit of a rip-off.

Now at this late stage, giving you an ereader comparison is a bit silly, beause the 511eb is no longer available. However, Elonex have produced a new, colour ereader, now available from Waterstones, so I urge you to abandon the tyranny of Amazon and Sony and give the littler companies a try.

In the meantime, I will continue to look for copies of Mercedes Lackey’s, Lynn Flewelling’s and Trudi Canavan’s books that aren’t controlled by Amazon. I wonder how long I’ll have to look?

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