So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and get some kind of e-Reader before going on vacation. I started scoping them out, and wasn't particularly impressed.
The Kindle ($400) - holds 40 books, but only in Amazon's Kindle format unless you hack it. Connects to some internet but not in remote areas. Black-and-white monitor. 10 ounces. About 1-3 gigs of storage.
The Sony E-Reader ($300) - holds 160 books. Reads more formats. No wireless. Black-and-white monitor. 9 ounces. Can hold up to 10 gigs of storage with extra devices.
iLiad ($700) - from iRex Technologies. Don't know about books but reads tons of forms and has unlimited memory, so I'm assuming, a lot. Wireless WiFi active. Black-and-white monitor (more shades than other two). 13 ounces. 158 MB memory, but has USB port, so unlimited memory with flash cards.
So I got to thinking - why the hell am I shelling out hundreds of dollars for a machine that can do less than my iPod? And I mean much less. The iPod has an LCD computer screen with full color, 20 gigs of hard drive space, and can play movies. The technology exists to create an e-Reader that can hold most of the world's literature and have a color screen the size of any of their screens, so why the hell isn't anyone making one?
I decided instead to buy a refurbished Fujitsu Tablet PC, which cost me $160 (after shipping). And it's a freakin' computer. It has a full-color screen the size of of any of the e-Reader screens, it has 6 gigs of memory and a USB flash drive (which means it has unlimited memory, especially when you buy one of those 16 gig flash drives). It runs Windows 2000. It plays movies and reads every type of file that a book would be in. It connects to the internet and you can even remove the wireless card and replace it with a better one. I installed Microsoft Office and a video player so I could watch movies stored on my flash drive and do some writing. The only downside is its weight (2.5 pounds), but I think it was worth it to go on vacation with 1653 books. Most were downloaded public domain freebies from Google Books or current books I got through file sharing.
And in the end? ...Uh, I didn't use it. Well I did, to be honest, but to watch episodes of Family Guy I'd downloaded. Nothing against the machine, but I brought along a few real books, and my hand just went straight for them instead. If I'd been there longer and run out of things to read, it would have been a different story, and on the machine would have went.
Also, it's good for referencing things. The end result is that I'm happy with it even if I rarely used it for book files because just carrying a library around is cool, but I would never buy a standard official "e-Reader" - not until they start being honest and sell the ones they produce now for what they're worth, which I'd say, technology-wise, is under $40.