Category Archives: eInk

Dechiphering the eReader Market – An Electronic Media Tutorial -Part 2

Deciphering the eReader Market
An Electronic Media Tutorial – Part 2
By Roz Lee
Last time we talked about the pros and cons of eReaders. If you’re going to buy one, you need to know what’s on the market to choose from. That’s what we’re going to look at in Part 2 of our tutorial.
Color vs. Black and white. Color is self-explanatory, but black and white isn’t really accurate. eReaders use electronic ink technology,(eInk). The result is a screen that closely resembles a printed page. The background isn’t really white, just like most book pages and newspapers are not truly white, but some off shade of gray. Think of newsprint, and that’s what you get. It’s easy on the eyes, not at all like reading from a computer screen. Computer screens flicker at a very high rate of speed, too fast for your eyes to detect it, but nevertheless, the backlit, flickering screen causes eyestrain. If you spend your days at a computer, you know what I’m talking about.
eInk eReaders are not backlit, that means, just like a real book, you need to have a light to read by. The device itself does not supply you light. Huh? Okay, turn off the lights. Can you still read your computer screen? That’s because it is backlit. The device provides its own light. Not so with eInk eReaders. This could be considered a drawback, but considering you’ve been using a lamp to read by your entire life…well, you get the idea. If you use one of those little clip on reading lights so you can read in bed, don’t throw it out, you can still use it with your eReader.
Color eReaders are a different animal. The color screen uses the very same technology as your computer monitor or cell phone. The screen is backlit – it provides its own light. There are certain advantages to this. One is that you can read in the dark. No need to turn on a light and disturb others in the room, or the movie theater. Just kidding. You wouldn’t read in the movie theater, just like you wouldn’t text or play on your smart phone in the during the movie either. I’m sure that wasn’t you sitting behind me last weekend.
Another advantage is the color itself. There is a certain advantage to reading magazines in color as opposed to eInk. Imagine Cosmo without color. Not so good. The articles would be the same, but little else. Children’s books come to life in color. If you plan to read to the little ones, Eric Carle’s books will look much better in color and keep the kiddo’s attention riveted on the screen.
If you’ve ever tried to use your computer outdoors, or read a text on your cell phone on a sunny day, you know it’s almost impossible. The same goes for color eReaders. The eInk readers do a much better job when your lounging poolside, or on the beach. Some users even comment that the resolution is improved in bright light.
Wi-fi vs. 3-G. In truth, there is another option. Some eReaders are neither wi-fi nor 3-G, but it’s such an antiquated technology that we aren’t even going to go there. True, they are less expensive than the others are, but less user-friendly, and I’m all about user-friendly.
So what’s the difference between wi-fi and 3-G? To connect to the internet and buy books with wi-fi you need to be someplace that has free, not password protected wireless internet. That could be your home, most coffee shops, plenty of restaurants, and of course the two major retail bookstore chains. If you don’t have a wireless router at home, you might want to consider spending the extra fifty bucks on the 3-G version.
With 3-G you don’t need to be in a wireless hotspot. Just like with the internet browser on your cell phone, you can be anywhere and connect to the internet. I’ve read stories where people have used their eReaders to send emails when their home internet was out. Only two major eReaders offer 3-G devices, and both of those provide it for free. That’s a pretty good deal since all the cell phone providers charge a monthly fee for internet connectivity. I have one, and I’ve used it to stay in touch in airports where wi-fi was fee based. With free 3-G on my eReader, why pay for wi-fi for my computer?
Last, but not least…iPad vs. dedicated eReader. This won’t take long. I’ve already told you what a dedicated eReader can do, except did I mention you can play games on it too? I’m a sudoku fan, so I downloaded a free version. Back to the topic… IMHO (in my humble opinion) the iPad is a larger version of the iPhone, without the phone part. They start at just under $500, plus a monthly fee for 3-G, compared to under $200 for either of the 3-G dedicated eReaders.
Features Comparison Chart
Features
Nook
Nook Color
Kobo
Kobo-Wireless
Sony Pocket
Sony Touch
Kindle
Backlight
N
Y
N
N
N
N
N
Touchscreen##
N
Y
N
N
Y
Y
N
Wi-fi
$149
$249
N
$140
N
N
$139
3-G
$199
N
N
N
N
N
$189
Built-in
Dictionary
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Memory
Card #
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
N
Off-site
Storage***
N
N
N
N
N
N
Y
Photos
N
Y
N
N
N
N
N
Music
Y
Y
N
N
N
Y
Y
Text to
Speech**
N
N
N
N
N
N
Y
Book Sharing+
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y(soon)
Sync with other
Devices*
N
Y
N
N
N
N
Y
*Switch between reading on your eReader, your phone, or computer without losing your place.
**Device will read to you.
***Books are archived at Amazon. If you break your eReader, or lose it, your books are still there and can be downloaded again.
#Extra storage is on memory cards, or memory sticks that can be lost or damaged.
## It does have a touchscreen for ordering books.
+Both offer 14 day share between compatible devices.
Note – Many public libraries have digital and audio books available to check out. My local library uses a service that is incompatible with Kindle, but will work on my computer, or just about any of the devices listed above, as well as most smartphones and iPod touch. Check with your local library before you buy if this is a service you want to use.
For our next visit, we’ll look at how to find books for your new eReader, and which format to buy when you find them! Until then…happy shopping!
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