eReader Holiday Gift Guide: Heavyweight Division ($300 and up)

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It’s time to finalize our eReader Holiday Gift Guide ($300 and up) for 2009 with the heavyweight division: the Amazon Kindle DX, Sony Daily Edition Reader and iRex DR800GS. These big boys pack a large screen size and tons of extras to match their higher price tags.

See our previous eReader Holiday Gift Guide posts for:

We’ll start with the biggest of them all (and most expensive) the Amazon Kindle DX.

The big daddy of them all -- the Kindle DX

The big daddy of them all -- the Kindle DX

Rundown: The Amazon Kindle DX has a massive 9.7-inch E-Ink screen with a 1200 x 824 pixel resolution, 150 ppi and 16 levels of grayscale. It measures 10.4 x 7.2 x .38 inches (making it nearly the size of a standard sheet of paper). The DX includes the typical Kindle wireless and 3G connectivity to the Kindle Store and can hold 3,500 books. It will also autorotate depending on how you hold it and has native PDF support. Supported formats include Kindle, PDF, TXT, MP3, Audible formats, MOBI, PRC. Notice the absence of any ePub format. It

Pros: Huge screen size, excellent battery life, good internal storage, is extremely thin (slightly over 1/3 of an inch), has a refined E-Ink screen with 16 shades of gray, wireless and 3G access to Kindle Store for downloads most anywhere.

Cons: The $489 price, lack of ePub format, DRM, text-to-speech is disabled for most publications and novels, no touchscreen.

Verdict: Size is the main advantage of the Kindle DX. This is for people that want a large format eReader and don’t care about how much it costs. As with all the Kindle eReaders, DRM is a major issue that has yet to be dissolved. If you have a Kindle and decide to move on to another eReader in the future (other than a Kindle) you’re library will not come with it. Kindle has recently allowed PDFs to be read on their device which hopefully means the DRM issues will resolve themselves in the near future (similarly to what iTunes did with its proprietary format). Still, $500 is a lot of cash for a device that does one thing well — but if reading is all that you do it might be for you (rhyming unintentional).

Where can I buy it: Amazon is the only place to buy a Kindle. It’s currently priced at $489.

Next up is the newly released Sony Daily Edition Reader (PRS-900) which is Sony’s most advanced and largest Reader.

The 3G and touchscreen enabled Sony Daily Edition Reader

The 3G and touchscreen enabled Sony Daily Edition Reader

Rundown: The Sony Daily Edition Reader boasts a 7.1-inch touchscreen with a 600 x 1024 resolution and 16 shades of gray. It is the only Sony Reader to offer 3G connection (through AT&T) and can connect to the Sony Reader Store. It has expandable memory by SD card or Memory Stick up to 32GB. The PRS-900 also lasts two and a half weeks on one charge with 3G turned off and 7 days with 3G on. It measures 5 x 8.12 x 0.6 inches and weighs 12.75 ounces. It also supports ePub, PDF, TXT, RTF, DOC, MP3, AAC, JPEG, PNG, GIF and BMP. Sony has recently updated their store to sell ePub by default as well.

Pros: A very large touchscreen, no QWERTY keyboard means the device is nearly all screen, no DRM issues, ePub and local library checkout, expandable card slot for increased storage, 3G and very strong battery life.

Cons: The PRS-900′s screen is not as clear as the non-touchscreen Sony Pocket Edition (PRS-300).

Verdict: The Sony offers nearly everything you want from an eReader. However, in exchange for a touchscreen interface, you’ll be getting a slightly murkier screen. This may not even be apparent to most people, but when compared to the Pocket Edition side-by-side it’s easy to see. Still, the Daily Edition offers 3G, ePub format, massive expandable memory, a large screen on a relatively small profile and a battery that will have you reading for weeks.

Where can I buy it: The Sony Store has it for $399 and it will start shipping on December 18th. Expect to see it at BestBuy and Amazon after launch.

Finally let’s talk about the iRex DR800GS eBook Reader.

The currently unreleased iRex DR800SG

The currently unreleased iRex DR800SG

Rundown: The iRex DR800GS has a 8.1-inch touchscreen developed by Wacom that uses a stylus to access. By using a stylus, the DR800GS is able to feature a minimal-glare screen that has none of the issues as Sony’s touch Reader offerings. The screen has a 768 x 1024 resolution, 158 ppi and 16 grayscale levels. It is very sleek and streamlined, measuring 7.6 x 5.9 x 0.4 and weighs a hair over 14 ounces. It comes with 2GB of internal storage and an expandable SD slot. It uses a Linux OS that is surprising complex yet easy to use and can connect to the Barnes & Noble eBook store through its wireless 3G connection. It handles ePub, PDF, TXT and PDB formats natively. The iRex is not officially out yet, but they have a partnership agreement with Best Buy to sell the DR800GS.

Pros: Very crisp screen, global 3G connection, ability to access B&N eBook store as well as other ePub checkouts (like public libraries), large screen, expandable storage, bookmarking and highlighting ability, very involved software OS.

Cons: Input requires stylus to interact with device, not currently available.

Verdict: The iRex DR800SG is a viable contender for the best high-priced eReader on the (soon to be) market. They’re partnership with Best Buy means you’ll be able to test this thing out in store (and compare it directly to the Sony Reader line also sold in Best Buys) before you buy it. Currently rumored to be $399 — the same price as the Sony Daily Edition Reader — the DR800SG offers the second largest screen and the largest touch sensitive screen on the market. If you can get over having to use the attached stylus to make all of your menu selections, this may be perfect for you. And if you travel outside of the U.S. frequently the iRex’s constant 3G makes this the best choice for you.

Where can I buy it: Ah, and there’s the rub. Best Buy had it listed on their website for a short period last month but have since pulled it. News should come soon from the iRex Reader website.

That concludes our eReader Holiday Gift Guide for the heavyweight division ($300 and up). We hope you enjoyed the guide and feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

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