We've seen the sales figures. We've heard the reviews. We know that Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple are having no trouble moving big units of their Kindles, Nooks, and iPads. But how are consumers finding the devices post-purchase?
That's data we're often not privy to, obfuscated by return rate percentages, generalized by customer satisfaction reports, or lost in the online shuffle of user reviews. Thankfully, companies and consumers are no longer at the mercy of such metrics. Using social media monitoring and analysis platform Crimson Hexagon , which offers a unique human-assisted  approach to gauging public perception online, we can now see how the above devices and brands are performing in real time.
Recently Crimson has been monitoring the e-reader market, and analyzing hundreds of thousands of tweets to see how consumers are speaking about the Kindle, Nook and iPad. All this Twitter chatter revealed that the Kindle still very much dominates the market, but that the Nook is fast becoming a major player. Interestingly, the iPad received less favorable reviews as an e-reader, according to the study , "due to its glossy LCD display (less optimal for reading) and large size."
Unlike the Nook and Kindle, which sport e-ink displays, the iPad features a color screen that can be hard on the eyes. While 40% of opinion analyzed by Crimson found that users generally enjoyed reading on an iPad, around 19% suggested that the screen isn't as good for reading as other devices. What's more, 17% of opinion complained of Apple's best-seller being too big and heavy, and 10% complained of overheating issues. (Apple appears to be addressing some of these complaints with the iPad 2, which is likely to be smaller and lighter, as rumors have indicated .)
Of course, the iPad is a more powerful device than its competitors at Amazon and Barnes & Noble--it's designed primarily as a tablet, not an e-reader, which explains why "sentiment was predominantly positive" for the Kindle and Nook, and more negative for the iPad. Around 80% of online chatter about the Kindle and the Nook was positive. Positive feedback for the devices mainly surrounded affordability (11%) and easy-to-read text (8%). Unfortunately for Barnes & Noble, while the two seem to match up in reviews, the Kindle is still dominating the online conversation. "Looking at the daily volume of relevant Twitter conversation for each of the devices, we see that conversation about the Kindle far outpaces the Nook and Nook Color, consistently adding up to more tweets-per-day than both Nook devices combined," the report read, "an average of about 1,000 tweets per day for Kindle versus just under 500 per day for Nook."
Crimson's report also found the the Nook Color is making strong headway among consumers. Similar to the iPad, the Nook Color has an LCD screen less optimal for extensive reading and outdoor use. Yet the device received far more positive reviews than the iPad. "[A] key finding about the Nook Color is that despite its price tag of $249, Twitter users still largely perceive the device as affordable—14% of relevant conversation involved positive perception of price," Crimson writes. "This is telling of the Nook Color’s competitive positioning as a lower-cost, 'pseudo-tablet' that can cater to consumers looking for color and versatility without dishing out $500 for an iPad."
So few characters, so much analysis.