When avid reader Oprah Winfrey raved about the digital reading device called Kindle, it shot to the top of the holiday must-have list.
As an updated device from Amazon.com, called Kindle 2, hit the market Tuesday, CNET TV Senior Editor Natali del Conte visited the "CBS Early Show" to give viewers a look at the new e-book reader and compare it to the latest versions of similar devices.
The Kindle "has lived up to the hype," del Conte says. "It's one of those things you don't absolutely need, but once you get it, you can't live without it."
Among Kindle 2's improvements over the first one:
The original held 150 books; the new one holds 10 times as many.
3G downloading means you'll get books downloaded on the fastest mobile network available in the United States; download a book in fewer than 2 minutes.
It has text-to-speech reading of books.
It plays MP3 music files.
The Kindle 2 is still pretty pricey, at $359. But del Conte says it's worth the bucks "if you're an avid reader. If you average it out, you're going to be saving money on books, because buying the books online is less expensive (than doing so conventionally), and you purchase the device only once. There are a lot of ways to read books online, if money is an issue."
A bonus for Kindle purchasers, del Conte points out, is that, if you're waiting for delivery of the old Kindle, you'll get the Kindle 2.
The Sony Reader is in its third generation. It's been out since November, and it has a few new things del Conte likes:
It's small and light.
It has a touch screen.
It features a backlight.
It reads PDF-formatted files (meaning that you can read PDF documents on it).
Other things to note:
You have to physically download the books, unlike with the Kindle.
It doesn't have an integrated dictionary, as Kindle does.
The Sony Reader retails for $299. Click here for CNET's take on the Sony Reader.
Most mobile devices have a book reader. You don't pay extra; just get a free application for it. Just download the program.
There are also lots of books in the public domain you can get at eReader.com. You can also read those books on your computer, and they're free.
Books on iPhone or iPod Touch
Software goes for $1.99 to $3.99 at Apple.com. Click here for CNET's take on using your iPhone as an e-book reader.
There's eReader software for the iPhone. It supports books from FictionWise.com or eReader.com. It enables you to sync books you've already bought or buy more books via the application.
Another program that enables you to read public-domain books on your computer is called Stanza.
Some other e-book readers del Conte is excited about (but that are not yet available):
eSlick: Will be $230. At Foxitsoftware.com.
Readius: Will have a flexible screen. At Readius.com.