Monday, October 11, 2010

eReaders Worth Another Look

leMany of us are beginning to spend more time indoors as the weather turns cooler, and for some that means we will have more time to read. I thought that this might be a great time to review the various options for eBooks readers. An eBook reader is a digital device that allows you to read eBooks and periodicals. The term eBook refers to a variety of texts and images that are presented in digital form and able to be read on a computer or on other digital devices such as an eBook reader. Like so many new products, the first one to market often becomes the recognized moniker. So, many people refer to all eBook readers as “Kindles.” Actually Kindle, an product, is only one of several devices that fall into this categoy.

Beside Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle2, Sony has a product called PRS-700 and Barnes and Noble offers the Nook. While not an eReader, Apple’s iPad and other tablet compters coming to market can also be used to read eBook files.

When selecting an eReader, foremost in your selection criteria should be the quality of the display screen and how comfortable you are reading text for long periods on the screen. There are two main types of screens. In my opinion, the screens that use eInk technology are the best. Unlike the traditionl computer screens that are lighted from behind, eInk screens form the words on a white background just like a printed page. This makes the text readable in bright sunlight but does not strain your eyes if you are in low light areas. eInk is as close to real paper and ink as you can get. The Kindle, Nook and PRS-700 all use eInk technology. The iPad and other tablet computers use traditional back-lit screens.

Another feature that you should consider is how the files are loaded into the device. Some require that you have a hard-wired or wifi internet connection. Others use the 3G mobile networks. The Kindle uses the latter and makes loading books and periodicles a cinch. While it uses the 3G mobile network, it is transparent to the user meaning that you don’t need to subcribe to any new service. The Kindle does this in the background. So if you want a book from, you select it and it is atomatically downloaded.

Finally, be sure the eReader that you choose is able to read all of the various formats of eBooks. While all can read the most used commercial formats, there is a format called ePub. It is being used by libraries to distribute free material. As of this writing, all but the Kindle products can read ePub files.

More and more books are becoming available in electronic form and even college textbooks are adopting the format. The ease of reading, ability to have several books at your fingertips without the need of a large backpack and the lower prices of eBooks make an eBook reader something to consider.

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