Guilty? Innocent? What’s the end-of-the-year ruling in the battle of the ereaders?

Things heated up in the tablet/ereader race this month as more in-depth reviews—and in some cases, criticisms—were being published just in time for the last weeks of holiday shopping. The Kindle Fire was the player most sweating it out in the hot seat this month with lots of complaints ranging from lack of external volume control to the simplicity of ordering that makes the device susceptible to kids charging up their parents accounts without permission. Still, even David Streitfeld wrote a follow-up to his article, which talked about the various complaints about the Kindle Fire (as shown in the quote below), admitting to the overwhelming response from Fire users singing the device’s praises. The Fire is projected to come in second only to the iPad in tablet sales this quarter; though with plans for an expansion into the UK for the Nook and rock-bottom pricing for the Sony Reader WiFi if you trade in your current ereader, all the competitors seem to be moving full steam ahead. In the end, many reviewers seem to find themselves nickel and diming over features, making the real determinate which ecosystem consumers want to buy into.

So which ereader closes out 2011 reigning supreme? Study the following evidence to come to your own verdict:


“Just two weeks after its introduction, Amazon’s Kindle Fire already is shaking up the market, with the device expected to surpass all other iPad rivals to take second place in the global media tablet business in the fourth quarter.”

Rhoda Alexander, iSuppli (12/2/2011)


“Overall, if you’re looking for a tablet to listen to music or watch movies, you’ll likely find the more integrated software experience on the Kindle Fire to be a better fit. If you’re mainly interested in reading books and magazines, the $249 Nook Tablet packs a great value.”

— Michael J. Miller, PC Magazine (12/6/2011)


“All the individual grievances — recorded on Amazon’s own Web site — received a measure of confirmation last week when Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert, denounced the Fire, saying it offered ‘a disappointingly poor’ experience. For users whose fingers are not as slender as toothpicks, he warned, the screen could be particularly frustrating to manipulate.”

David Streitfeld, The New York Times (12/11/2011)


“Kobo also remains arguably the best choice for a truly international e-reader, due to its wide-ranging set of global partners and willingness to allow content from other stores that use the EPUB standard (including Sony and Smashwords).”

— Tim Carmody, Wired Magazine (January issue)


“The Sony Reader Wi-Fi lacks the menu finesse and social media hooks that Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch boasts. But its new pricing puts it right in line with its e-reader competition, and as a result it’s an attractive choice, especially for people who prize light weight, navigation flexibility, and easy access to reading text PDFs.”

Melissa J. Perenson, PC World (US online) (12/14/2011)


“In a note to clients issued Monday, Hudson Square Research’s Daniel Ernst reported on the results of a pre-holiday scouting trip he took to retail stores in New York and Connecticut over the weekend — only a handful of shopping days before Christmas — where he found “floor traffic up materially, but lines at checkout short.” …Amazon’s (AMZN) tablet sales, however, were a mystery: ’While Amazon reported that the Kindle family of devices was selling more than 1M units per week, we continue to be surprised that the Kindle Fire is still in-stock (as opposed to sold-out).’”

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Fortune blog (12/19/2011)

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