NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- News in the fiercely competitive e-reader market continues to churn, fueled in part by the launch of Amazon's ( AMZN) new Kindle e-reader.
As tablet makers duke it out with dropping prices, bookworms only stand to gain. Read on for TheStreet's comparison of the most popular e-readers.
At the moment the iPad is the undisputed king of all tablet computers. It sports an 11-inch screen and runs a version of Apple's ( AAPL) OS for portable devices, now called iOS4. There are two separate models -- one with Wi-fi connectivity and the other with both Wi-fi and AT&T ( T) 3G networking. You can also choose 16GB, 32GB or 64GM of internal memory. Prices range from $499 to $829.
The leader in e-book reader sales, Amazon has just announced the latest and greatest versions of its industry-leading Kindle book readers. Its third-generation models sport higher-contrast screens, new fonts, faster page turns, a better Web browser, lighter overall weight, an alleged one-month battery life between charges and, best of all, lower prices: $189 for the 3G and Wi-fi model and $139 for the Wi-fi-only model. The larger-screen DX model is now $389.
Barnes & Noble Nook
The e-book reader from Barnes & Noble ( BKS), the Nook, has a black and white reading screen and a color bookshelf strip on the bottom and can store as many as 1,500 books in its 2GB memory. The Nook also has two models, one with 3G and Wi-Fi and the other with just Wi-Fi connectivity, priced at $199 and $149 respectively.
There is more than one Sony ( SNE) Reader to choose from: the Reader Pocket Edition ($150), the Reader Touch Edition ($170) and the Reader Daily Edition ($250). Sony claims more than 200,000 books in its bookstore -- plus 1 million titles of free books available from Google ( GOOG) and access to your public library's lending service. The reader also features a daily edition of the Wall Street Journal.
The Kobo looks a lot like the first and second generation Kindle -- but with a big, blue, "4-way D-pad" button beneath the screen -- instead of a keyboard. Kobo has 1GB of memory inside and is said to offer as many as two weeks worth -- or 8,000 page views -- before the battery will need a recharge. It syncs via USB cord with your computer or via Bluetooth with your cell phone. The Kobo was the cheapest of the e-book readers until everyone else began dropping their prices. It still retails for $150 and comes loaded with 100 free ebooks.
The Alex e-book reader comes from a company called Spring Design. It features an interesting design with a black and white reading screen above a small color Android OS computer screen below and won Laptop Magazine's "Best of C.E.S. 2010 eBook Reader" award. In TheStreet's test that compared the Alex with a second-generation Kindle, there was no contest. The Alex was too slow. And compared to Amazon's bookstore, download choices on the Alex are severely limited. Alex sells for $399.
This device is more of a potential threat to Apple's iPad than to the top-selling e-readers. The P7 is a 6-ounce tablet computer/PMP with a 4.3-inch (EVO 4G/Droid X-sized) WVGA color touchscreen running Windows (2K/XP/Vista) with a proprietary "Magazine" screen interface. You can listen to the built-in FM radio while reading books and much, much more. It's currently priced at $180 for the 8GB and $210 for the 16GB model. --Written by Gary Krakow in New York