Roughly 5 million eReaders were sold around the world in 2009. For the uninitiated, the world of the eReader can be positively perplexing, brimming with assumed knowledge.
The Kindle is possibly the most recognised reader, with the much talked about but as yet unreleased iPad a close second. Then again, a quick Google search reveals there are hundreds of eReaders available: the Onyx Boox 60, the nook, the Pocketbook 302, the Cybook Opus, the Amazon Kindle DX, the Kindle 2, the eSlick Reader, the Cybook Gen 3, the Librie – you get the general idea.
So it seems some elucidation is in order.
What is this eReader I’ve been hearing so much about and will it bring meaning to my life?
I may be stating the obvious, but an eReader is a device designed to read digital books and publications, or digital texts, more commonly referred to as eBooks.
E-readers are portable, low-power, high-resolution devices specifically designed to display digital versions of written material from books, magazines, newspapers, and other printed sources. Some e-readers also provide access to electronic documents like blogs, websites, news feeds, and the like.
Most eReaders use eInk in a number of shades of grey and a digital page will typically resemble a printed page. eInk only uses the battery when the reader turns pages, which is why everyone’s always praising the battery-life of the eReader.
Other devices, like netbooks and iPhones, can be used to read eBooks, but they’re not designed specifically for this purpose. eReaders, on the other hand, allow the storing of an entire library (a small library, that is), resizing of text, annotations and more control over the reading environment and experience.
While I won’t promise it will bring meaning to your life, this Kindle convert will:
Some major eReader contenders
The soon-to-be-released Kobo eReader
Price: US $149
- One of the cheaper readers on the market, already touted as the ‘Kindle killer’ (post-introduction of the iPad because who’s going to pay so much for the Kindle when they can get the iPad? More on this below.)
- Value for money
- Access to the Kobo book store, offering more than 2 million titles
- Allows the transfer of titles across devices (iPhone, Android, etc)
- Supports ePub, PDF and Abode DRM support
- Has a battery life of two weeks
- No keyboard
- No wireless so books have to be transferred via USB
- Limited functions
- Small screen
- Minimum features
- Unlikely to offer 2 million titles to Australian users
The Kobo eReader will only be available for a limited period as Kobo’s focus is their Platform, which they hope will be adopted by other eReaders, as is the case with Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
The currently dominant Kindle 2
Price: US $259
- Free internet access (to Wikipedia and the Amazon store in Australia)
- Read-to-me feature
- Option of subscribing to blogs, newspapers and magazines
- 450,000 titles available
- Has a nice reading screen
- Delivers books in under 60 seconds
- 3G wireless
- Stores up to 1500 books
- Not as attractive as the iPhone
- No colour
- The battery isn’t replaceable
- Range of books, newspapers and magazines available in Australia is limited
- Amazon keeps track of what books you read and what sites you visit (though this is likely to be the same with Kobo)
The to-be-launched-next-week iPad
Price: US $499
The iPad is more a media-consumption device than eReader, but the Kindle app and inbuilt iBooks app mean that one of the major uses of the iPad will be as a reading device.
- Multi-touch screen
- Onscreen keyboard
- iBooks app
- LED-backlit screen
- Runs third-party apps like the iPhone
- Minimum 16GB memory
- Weighs 1.5 pounds
- Unable to run two apps at the same time
- 3G coverage costs an additional US$129 (plus monthly usage)
- No camera
- In-built battery, which is a major con
Feel free to leave your eReader anecdotes and grudges below. Meanwhile, I might take some time out with my trusty paperback so I can digest all these pros and cons.
*If you’re an arty type keen on prolonging the life of your reader, you may want to consider making a cover for your eReader
**This post was made by possible by the excellent research compiled over at the iReader Review