If you want to buy an e-reader, you have to make a choice: should you grab today's bargain or wait for tomorrow's new model?
The right answer depends on who you ask.
E-readers, such as Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook, are designed primarily for reading books. One thing that makes these devices stand out from other consumer technology is the average age of their owners: nearly a year ago, Nielsen reported that 26% of Amazon Kindle owners were 55 or over, compared to 9% of iPad owners.
E-readers have grown in popularity over the last year, according to a Pew Internet Report released in May, and that growth is likely to continue because, in recent days, both have made fairly significant price drops on refurbished versions of their latest models.
A pre-owned Nook Color, the current top model, is now available from B&N for $199 (compared to $249 for a new version) while refurbished Amazon Kindles are now on sale for $99. Both come with warranties and guarantees.
They sound like great deals. But are these price drops a sign that new models are about to be unveiled? Each company keeps its e-reader release dates top secret, but TeleRead predicts that a new Amazon Kindle will come out in October, - and perhaps it will be a full-color version that runs Google's Android operating system. That, at least is what the New York Times has been speculating will be Amazon's next move.
While making fun of the speculation, the website IT World recommends hanging on until at least September if you want the "latest and greatest" device.
The popularity of the Nook Color certainly suggests that some form of color screen is likely on a new Kindle, as well as more integrated social reading features, such as those recently proposed by paidContent.org. Barnes & Noble is sure to have its own new features planned as well. But as for when these unconfirmed new devices will appear? Nobody knows - or at least, those who know aren't telling.
So should you take advantage of the low prices, or wait for something better?
The truth is, there is no right answer. After all, your latest and greatest gadget won't be the latest device for long.
The most important questions to consider are: "What do you need an e-reader to do?" and "By when do you need it?" If the answers are "Everything an e-reader already does," and "Now," then this is a great time to make a purchase.
Otherwise, perhaps it's worth waiting to see if a new generation of Kindles and Nooks will satisfy your needs - whenever they appear in the marketplace.
What do you think? Is now a great time to buy an e-reader? Or are you an existing e-reader owner who wants more from your device? Let us know in the comments!