22 January, 2011

Samsung E-65 and Amazon Kindle 3 e-readers compared

My partner was delighted with the Amazon Kindle 3 she had for her birthday a couple of months back, but then she reads a lot. So it was exactly what she wanted. Light, easy on the eyes etc. An excellent reader and not at all a "sub I-pad". You know the arguments.

At the end of the year, I took advantage of the sales to buy a competing Samsung E-65 for myself. At 100 pounds it was less than half the original price, making it just a tad cheaper than the Kindle. There have been reports that Samsung is pulling out of the e-reader market. I'll try and find out. In the meantime, they've brought out a French version with AZERTY keyboard, for €299. It'll be interesting to see how well it does.Amazon only sell Kindle in France via their US web site, along with a hefty shipping fee. Travellers to the UK can now pick  up a Kindle for £111 (reflecting the recent increase in value added tax) over the counter at PC World, Curry's, John Lewis, etc.

Quick comparison

Screen: same size and resolution. The Kindle has better contrast.
Weight: much the same. 251 g for the Samsung and 225 g  for the Kindle.
Power: the Kindle claims 1 month and seems to live up to it. The Samsung power gauge shows low after a few days. But at least you can replace the Samsung battery yourself if it dies. It's the same battery used in the Samsung B7620 phone so is fairly cheap and easy to come by. Replacing the Kindle battery is officially a workshop job, although there are some web sites that offer to sell replacement batteries and show how to dismantle the Kindle to install them.
Wifi Connectivity: Both devices sport wifi. But the Samsung wifi can apparently only be used to shop from the Adobe store - which I couldn't get to actually work. The Kindle sports a rudimentary web browser. The Kindle was the version without 3G and the Samsung doesn't have 3G.
Document transfer: I liked the fact that you can move documents to the Kindle  by wifi. The Samsung needs to be connected to a computer by USB. The Samsung also comes with printer simulation software - you can "print" a document on your PC for transferring it to the reader. Unfortunately, it's Windows only, so I haven't go round to trying it yet.
Memory: The Kindle has 4GB, with no possibility of expansion. The Samsung has 2GB but can be take micro SD cards up to 16 GB.
Ergonomics: Both readers are easy to hold and great for reading on an overcrowded underground train. The Kindle page-turn button is easier for one-handed operation. I liked the Samsung touch screen for quick navigation. I haven't tried it for note-taking yet.
Other features:  The Samsung sports agenda and planner functions.
Oh, and in case it matters to you, the Kindle handles Greek characters without any problem, while the Samsung displayed some of them as question marks. I haven't tried any other alphabets though. 

Update: the Samsung a big no-no

After a couple of months, I finally decided the Samsung was too infuriating and put it on Ebay.
My main gripes:
1) The web browser can ONLY be used for shopping at WH Smith. Just imagine the frustration of having a built-in web browser and wifi access and not being able to do any basic surfing. Not even read the day's paper or look something up on Wikipedia.
2) DRM locked to WH Smith. According to the manual, you can buy ebooks from any online store with Adobe DRM, but I couldn't get it to work on this device. Reflashing the firmware could possibly solve this.
3) The really biggest gripe is Samsung's very fine font. The Kindle really is a lot easier to read.A pity, as it would cost almost nothing to fix. But I won't hold my breath for a firmware update.