Sony and Amazon are pushing digital books into the mainstream, but despite repeated attempts, eBook readers have remained a luxury rather than a necessity. Below we looked at some of the benefits of owning a dedicated eBook reader, along with some budget-friendly alternatives Amazon and Sony don't want you to know about. e-book Readers Amazon Kindle Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-505/SC Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-700** UMPC Laptop + Software iPhone + Stanza App Price $309* $299 $399 from $299 from $199 Screen Size 6" 6" 6" from 7" 3.5" Weight 10.3 oz. 9 oz. 10 oz. from 2.2 lbs 4.7 oz. Formats Supported AZW, TXT, HTML, .MOBI, .PRC, PDF DRM Text, BBeB Book, PDF, TXT, RTF, ePub DRM Text, BBeB Book, PDF, TXT, RTF, ePub PDF, ePub, LIT, HTML, .MOBI, unprotected AZW PDF, ePub, LIT, HTML, .MOBI, unprotected AZW Onboard Storage 256MB 256MB 512MB 8GB 8GB External Storage SD Memory Stick Duo, SD Memory Stick Duo, SD Multiple devices/cards None Rated Battery Life 30 hours 7,500 page turns 7,500 page turns N/A N/A Via coupon "OPRAHWINFREY" (ends Nov 1, 2008) **Available next month. eBook state of affairs Although there are plenty of eBook readers to choose from, Sony and Amazon are the only two companies with a following. However, you don't necessarily need a dedicated eBook reader to enjoy digital books. Coupled with the right software, your current notebook or even your iPhone can double as an eBook reader, saving you a few hundred dollars. The downside is that it won't offer the same experience you get from a dedicated device. In addition, your laptop and iPhone won't play some DRM-protected content, such as books purchased from Amazon's Kindle store.