As an avid lover of books and all things technology, I thought it was high time we have a post on this blog about e-Readers. If you’re not familar with e-Readers, they are portable electronic devices (typically tablet-like) used primarily for reading digital materials, including books, newspapers, magazines, etc. They exist in different formats, including electronic paper and digital display, and different sizes. Some read digital materials in proprietary format, while others can open and display other content types, including audio books.
Now, I said I love technology, and I do. However, converting to an e-Reader took a lot of thought on my part. You see, I love the feel of a book in my hands. It took some self-convincing for me to consider e-Readers, but after demoing a friend and colleague’s e-Reader, I was convinced. I had to have one.
I did a lot of research when considering which e-Reader to purchase. For me, I preferred the electronic paper format simple because I knew how I easily I get eyestrain when staring at my computer screen for too long. The electronic paper format is designed to look like ink on regular paper. In bright light, there is no glare on the screen as there would be with digital backlit displays because the electronic paper reflects the light. However, unlike backlit digital displays, electronic paper does not allow you to read a book in the dark. So, if you’re considering an electronic paper e-Reader, you’ll still need to purchase a separate booklamp or a case with a built-in light.
After you’ve decided whether you’d like an electronic paper or backlit digitial display device, you can further narrow down your options a bit further by thinking about how much you want to spend and vendors. Some vendors provide access to e-Books in proprietary format. What does that mean? On Amazon’s Kindle, for example, books are in Amazon’s Kindle format, or AZW. Kindles do not support the standard EPUB (electronic publication) format. While Amazon does support book lending, it is usually not possible to “borrow” digital books from your local library as is the case with other e-Readers.
I feel as if I should stop here and mention that I own a Kindle DX, so I’m not advocating against Amazon in my earlier paragraph. I considered my options very carefully and decided to go with the Kindle because I preferred the functionality and the design of the tool over other electronic paper e-Readers. While I would love to be able to download EPUB books on my Kindle, I decided that I could open those on my computer when necessary.
Side note: yesterday I bought the Motorola Xoom tablet and so I can open up EPUB files on that device too. That, my faithful reader, is a blog post for a different day.
One feature that seems to be fairly common of e-Readers is lending. I mentioned earlier the lending/borrowing from your local library, but you can also share books with your friends who own similar devices. Kindle books with other Kindle owners (where lending is enabled in the book), and EPUB books with owners who have EPUB compatible devices.
Other features that I don’t take advantage of – but would if I had the need – include the notes feature and the ability to download textbook content. In college, I used to highlight the heck out of my textbooks and the notes feature would allow me to do that, in digital format. You can even share your notes if you were to lend an electronic book to a friend!
Here are some useful links that I found helpful when considering e-Readers (note, Motorola Xoom tablet is not included in the comparisons since it’s so new!):
- Wikipedia’s comprehensive comparison
- eReader Leader
- Wireless Reader.net: 2011 eBook Reader Comparison
- Booksprung: a blog about eReaders with news and tips (mostly Kindle)
- Chamber4: eReader comparison
- TechRestore: eReader Comparison video (side note: I rarely use my Kindle keyboard)
- CBS “Best eReader to Buy” video