Mossberg’s Mailbox

Purchasing an E-Reader

Published on November 19, 2008
by Walt Mossberg

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

I want to purchase an e-reader. Currently I use my Palm Tungsten, but the screen is rather small for reading books. I purchased the Amazon Kindle for my niece but I do not like the design of it. Are there any other e-readers on the market that have a full keyboard and can connect to the Internet?

A: There may be some obscure models that do, but the main competitor to the Kindle, Sony’s Reader, lacks a direct connection to the Internet. You have to purchase titles on a computer and then move them to the device. The Reader does have a keyboard, but it’s virtual, not physical.

I’m considering the new 13″ aluminum-body MacBook. I’m a nontech guy doing routine computing tasks. I own an iMac and I’m ready to add a laptop. The only downside to the new MacBook seems to be the absence of a FireWire port. Is that a deal killer?

I don’t believe so. At one time, FireWire (also called 1394 or iLink on some computers and peripheral devices) was much faster than USB, but now the two are about the same speed. At one time, plugging most camcorders, or many external hard disks, required FireWire. Now both types of devices typically use USB or offer both types of ports.

If you are a professional photographer, videographer or musician with a heavy investment in USB peripheral devices, then the lack of a FireWire port may make the new MacBook a non-starter. But for an average user, unless you have invested in FireWire-only peripherals, I don’t think its absence would matter at all. Besides, you still have your iMac, which includes FireWire.

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