Five alternatives to the Amazon Kindle

Amazon might be about to update the Kindle today in New York, but that doesn't help UK readers wanting to go digital. What are the alternatives? Here are five that will let you carry more books in your bag than you've probably got room for on your bookshelf.

Sony eReader
With the backing of a company like Sony, their Reader has probably the highest profile of the devices available to UK users, helped of course with a partnership with Waterstones, making it available in store and online. The Sony Reader has a 6-inch E Ink display, so benefits from a battery life of about 6800 page turns. Easy controls make for comfortable page turning whilst reading and text can be resized at the push of a button. It also supports multiple formats, including images and MP3, and if you buy an ebook from the Waterstones website synchronisation is really easy.

100 Classic Book Collection - Nintendo DS
When you're not playing games on your DS, or improving your mind, you can turn your DS into a book. As you might have guessed from the title, you get 100 books on a DS cartridge. Choosing a book is easy and they include classics from Dickens, Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hardy, Wilkie Collins, and Lewis Carroll. Of course there are some notable omissions, like Frankenstein, War and Peace, Lord of the Rings, and books from C. S. Lewis, but who are we to be greedy? Holding the DS vertically, pages are displayed both sides with a swipe of the stylus (or your finger) left to right to turn the page. The problem with this offering is that the screens (although two of them) are just too small to get a sense of where you are going in a book.

Bookeen Cybook Gen3 e-book reader
The Cybook Gen3 has its pros and cons. The pros are its ability to carry around 10,000 books and that it is incredibly light. The cons are that while it does support audio playback it's got a 2.5mm rather than 3.5mm headphone jack, and that there are no page numbers on non-PDF files to let you keep track of where you are or how far you've got. However overall the smaller screen and lightweight design make it handy for carrying around.

iRex 1000 ebook
iRex currently offers the iLiad and iLiad Book Edition for consumers, but says the new device is aimed at business professionals. The iRex 1000 series is said to offer "superior functionality" and a 10.2-inch screen size for easy reading and referencing of documents, from A4 Powerpoint presentations to PDF files and from HTML to TXT and JPEG. Weighing less than 570 grams and 1.2cm deep the 1000 series is an open system which is said to synchronise easily with a PC via mini USB. The display has 16 grey tones and storage capacity is delivered via a changeable 1GB SD card while the built-in battery is claimed to have sufficient power to last for several days.

Google Mobile Reader
Users wanting to read any of the 1.5 million books currently available on the service can now do so by visiting a mobile friendly version of the site that has been optimised for all mobile phones, but in particular the Apple iPhone and the Google backed G1 Android handset from T-Mobile. The system uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to scan pages so that they now "flow on your mobile browser just like any other web page". The good is that you don't have to invest in yet another gadget to carry around - the downside is that your phone's battery won't last as long as an ebook. Oh and the screen is considerably smaller.