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Five Alternatives To Amazon Kindle Ebook Reader

Amazon has just announced that the Kindle is available in the UK right now although you will have to live with a number of idiosyncrasies coupled with the fact that it will be a pain to get it repaired if it breaks down.

The new Kindle comes direct from the US which means that by the time it will reach the UK, its price will possibly reach £220 and that doesn't include the price of buying a new adaptor or the price of using Whispernet to download content.

Fortunately, there are other alternatives currently on the market which are available right now and doesn't necessarily have to cost as much as Amazon's best selling electronic device.

The Sony E-Reader PRS-505 SC is one of the more popular ebook readers on the market and features a 6-inch e-ink screen while costing only £160 (at Play).

It is not as sophisticated as the Kindle (it doesn't offer wireless downloads for example) but it does offer a SD card reader, something that the Kindle lacks. Sony's entry level e-reader comes with 100 classical books and can store up to 13,000 titles on an optional memory card.

Most ebook readers have conservative colour schemes. If you want something more outlandish, try getting the Cool-er eBook which is available in a number of colours, including Lime and Purple.

There are more than 750,000 titles available from with around two thirds available for free. At £190 (from Firebox), it is not as cheap as the PRS-505 but it is sleek, light, comes with a SD card reader, plays MP3 player as well as a dozen of other file formats.

Another fine ebook reader is the Bebook which offers its own patented E-Ink technology. Available for only £199, Bebook also offers regular Firmware update to iron out any potential hardware issues.

The reader supports most ebook formats including jpg, pdf, mobi and even RSS newsfeeds (as long as they are non-drm). The device comes with a 6-inch screen, 512MB internal memory and a SD Card Slot. At £199 from Bebook, it is slightly expensive especially when compared to the Sony.

If you are yearning for an eBook Reader but don't want to be stung by Amazon's pricey books or the initial outlay for an ebook reader or want something more versatile, then try either the F&H GP436 or the MY Guide 4228.

These are not e-book readers per se but satellite navigation devices that offer ebook reading functionality amongst other things. They both have fairly big colour touchscreen displays and can play audio and video files as well but you won't be able to read Amazon-based novels on that.

If you have an iPod Touch or an iPhone, you could well use the ereader Application from Stanza which is developed by Lexcycle.

Available for free, it will give you access to more than 100,000 books and periodicals and importantly, makes use of Apple's exceptionally good platform.

This means, full touchscreen, accelerometer, colour content and wireless connectivity. Obviously, buying an iPod Touch or an iPhone only for reading eBooks is not cost effective.

If you're looking for an even cheaper solution, you can still go for a ... high resolution digital photo frame like the Linx at £40 (from Amazon).

How would you read text on a photo frame? You would need to convert the book to images and then put it, as an series of photos, on your photo frame and then watch it as a slideshow.

There are obvious disadvantages like poor battery life, the fact that it will be bulky (because of the 8-inch colour screen). But then you can reuse it as a digital photo frame, it has speakers and a memory card reader.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.