I'm a big fan of the Lonely Planet country guides - I love their background information on culture and history of a country. Their maps are superb, as is their selection of places worth visiting and things worth seeing. I love how they add a bit of personality and personal opinions to the mix of just the important facts. At present I have nine country guides and two city guides (same format as the country guides, but with blue chapter headers rather than gray ones, and the maps in full-color, all put together in the back), and I haven't been disappointed by a single one.
In a couple of months I'll be stopping over in Hong Kong for two days. Now I'm trying to decide which Lonely Planet to get for that. I'm mostly inclined to go for the Hong Kong & Macau city guide. I know I'll find it incredibly useful, and it'll fit nicely on the shelf next to all the other Lonely Planets.
However, it's a pretty expensive and bothersomely large volume for a two day visit.
The alternative, costing half and taking up maybe a third of the volume, is the Lonely Planet's Hong Kong Encounter. I leafed through this today, and I can't make up my mind about it, so I'm hoping someone has personal experience with this Encounter series. It seems so... glossy? Lots of pretty pictures, but in a way that makes me afraid they're covering up for lack of solid content. It gives the impression of being more like a travel guide used by people when they go on a package tour to London, rather than the essential survival necessity for backpackers. But I can't quite square that impression with the lonely planet name and logo.
So from people with personal experience: how do these "Encounter" guides compare? Do they contain all the same practical information? Background information on history and culture? Do they have the same personality? Is information easy to find, and is the format useful while actually wandering around the city? If you forget about the size difference between the Encounter and the city guide, which would you prefer? What type of information is cut from the Encounter books? Does it mostly list less extensive information about all the same places, or does it list the same amount of information about fewer places? Anything else to mention to help sway my mind...? (Sadly enough both LPs here are very recent (May 2007 vs Feb 2008), so that won't be able to make the decision for me...)