What is An eBook Reader?
An eBook reader, or an electronic-book reader, is a hand-held computer device used for reading contents such as electronic books, newspapers and magazines, and documents. Ebook readers can read books available in different formats such as plain TXT files, PDF files, XHTML and HTML files and also other lesser known formats like RTF and CBR. A stand-alone ebook reader typically consists of wireless connectivity for downloading contents and also for conducting other web-based tasks such as watching videos and sending emails.
An ebook reader can range from a small device like a cell phone or PDAs to large devices such as the iPad or the Kindle. Most ebook readers come with monochrome matte displays which give one the same visual experience as that of a physical book. Then there are other reading devices today that are similar to tablet computers in form with LCD screens making them more suitable for interaction and allowing functions beyond reading like web browsing.
eBook Readers in Today’s Market
Sony introduced the world to eBook readers with its Data Discman in 1998 though they became famous only in 2009 when eBooks made advancements in presentation, convenience, and marketing. Though the technology for eBook readers had been available in primary forms for many years, the devices became popular only when Amazon introduced Kindle in 2009 and Apple brought iPad into the scene in 2010. As readers looked for options to enhance their pleasures of eBook reading, they reached out to other products such as Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Sony’s PRS-500 and the Kobo, eBook reader.
Printed vs. Digital Material: Advantages of eBook Readers
Reading devices have some advantages over traditional paper books and the years have gained popularity due to several reasons. Though the primary function of ebook readers is reading e-books, today they have become more sophisticated with the introduction of hybrid devices which can be used for internet surfing, sending and receiving e-mails, word processing, playing MP3s and watching videos.
- These mobile, convenient and easy-to-carry portable devices have the storage capacity of tens to hundreds of titles and make it convenient for avid readers to access any reading material from any location and at any time.
- Interactive features such as bookmarking, interactive dictionaries, note taking, instant searching and cross-referencing incorporated in the devices have made them very popular.
- Readers have the option of improving readability with the back-lit display and the adjustable font size.
Technologies Involved In An eBook Reader
eBook readers use a technology known as an e-ink technology which uses energy to display text on the screen. But once the text is displayed energy is no longer required, to keep it visible thereby saving a lot of energy. It is for this very reason that eBook readers, which use the ink technology, are considered to be green and environment-friendly.
But, this technology is capable of displaying only monochrome texts and graphics and is a drawback for people who prefer visually stimulating graphics as in smart phones and touch screen mobiles.
Some newer versions of e-book readers now feature colour displays. More eBook readers are incorporating capability for Bluetooth, touch screen technology, and high-speed internet connection.
This E-ink or electronic-ink is a display technology which is paper-like and is characterised by high brightness with contrast, ultra-low power requirements, and a wide viewing angle. Available in grayscale and colours, e-ink technology replicates the appearance of ink being printed on paper. First used by Sony’s Liberia, it has now found use in eBook readers.
E-ink did not really take off till 2007 when Amazon released Kindle with its 800 x 600 pixel display which could show four levels of gray scale and the contrast which made the carrying of an entire library of e-books possible.
The latest versions of Kindle – the third generation of Kindle Paperwhite and Voyage, have high-resolution displays. Its pixels are indistinguishable to the human eye. Its other features include significantly increased contrast, 16 levels of grayscale and backlighting.
Though there are other devices including Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, and Bookeen, which have jumped into the e-ink competition, it is Kindle and its variant which is the most popular choice at the end of the day.
Need of eBook Readers in businesses and schools
eBook readers are not only for those who are interested in reading books or magazines and journals. These reading devices have gained popularity and are slowly taking over different areas of our lives and have been found to be particularly useful to students. So for school-going children, why is a Nook, Kindle or Kobo a better choice than paper books? If someone is going to school or is heading off to college for the first time, there are many incentives for making a changeover to digital from age-old tradition of carrying books;
- Going digital means fewer books in your backpack.
- Changing to e-books means saving on prices as ebooks are lower in cost and sometimes even come free which helps in saving money on hardcover books.
- Surveys have also shown that students tend to read more when they are carrying an ebook reader due to the convenience of having a library of e-books with them constantly.
- Using eBook readers makes searching of text and cutting and pasting of quoted matter easier.
- Control over the font sizes, remote access to many libraries and the integration of multimedia content makes it all the more fun.
- E-ink on readers simulates paper and is also easy to read when you are outside.
What Are the Important Features Required in an E-Book?
eBook readers have now gained popularity as the “in” gadget. But with all the noise and technicalities surrounding an eBook reader, how does one decide which would best suit individual specific needs? The most important thing that one needs to keep in mind when selecting an eBook reader is that there is no one eBook reader; buying an eBook reader depends on what one wants to do with it. One also needs to consider the various features which come with different ebook readers.
Finding the Right Screen
One of the most important features of an eBook reader is its screen. Your eyes will be looking at it for hours. So, the best way is to look at various screens and select between various e-inks, with colours or simple black and white or making a choice between having backlights or without them before zeroing on one.
The safest bet is an e-reader which utilizes e-paper as it reduces the possibility of eyestrain. It also helps to avoid glare for those who are used to reading outdoors. For readers who plan to read only fiction and colour is not a necessity, opting for an e-reader which utilizes black and white e-ink and e-paper would be ideal. For magazine lovers, the SuperNova MediaReader or the Nook Colour with full-colour LCD screen may be the best choice.
No one wants to carry a bulky, awkward and uncomfortable device on them. While buying an eBook reader, ensure that the weight is comfortable and you can carry it on your person comfortably.
Access to reading materials
This is by far the most important aspect of an eBook reader. Most of the eBook reader manufacturers have their own store of e-books. The more the number of publishers that the manufacturers can make deals with, the more the collection of books.
Amazon, the largest online retailer of books, with its Kindle, has probably the largest collection of e-books available – 1 million books and 400 magazines. Barnes & Noble provides the readers access to more than 2.5 million e-books, newspapers and magazines. But with the increase in the collection the reader should also consider the question of size.
The Type of Reading Material
If you are going to use your eBook reader for just reading books then Cool-er is just the right and the economic choice for you. But if you are contemplating reading blogs and newspapers on your ebook reader, then you have to go for other choices since Cool-er does not support periodicals and magazines. On Kindle 2, users can also publish blogs as well as use it for basic web surfing. With many eBook readers, you can check your e-mail, watch videos and also sync with any other electronic device that you have.
Price and Brand
How important is the price and the brand for you?But one has to also keep in mind that the more the features the higher the price would be. While Kindle may sound attractive, it does not come cheap. Those on a budget can opt for the Bookeen Cybook or Cool-er.
For an avid reader there is nothing worse than the dying of the battery in the midst of an interesting ending. Battery life depends on which eBook reader you are using. Though most readers are equipped with batteries which have good lasting power, there are a few variations. While the Kindle Touch as well as the Kindle Keyboard have a battery life lasting up to 2 months with the Wi-Fi turned off, the Kindle Fire has a battery life of only up to 6 – 8 hours. The Nook Simple Touch reader, with its wireless option turned off, lasts for up to 60 days.
To know more information about what are important features in eBooks (click here)
eBook Reader vs. Tablet
E-readers and tablets came into existence at around the same time with e-readers making entry a few years ahead of tablets. E-readers were developed with the intention of allowing the readers to conveniently read e-books without the use of a laptop or a desktop computer.
Tablets though have much more functionality and are operated via a touchscreen, digital pen, stylus or a detachable keyboard. In the early 2000s, Microsoft produced Microsoft Tablet PC which, in spite of its failure to gain popularity, found use in the medical field. Then Apple introduced iPad in 2010, and suddenly the tablet technology blossomed. The smooth style, multi purpose functionality, and the stellar touchscreen technology found popularity with the readers. With increasing features incorporated into it, iPads found use in homes, at work and with those who were on-the-go.
Various versions of tablets with different sizes and various levels of success came up on the market. Some of the tablet computer choices include the Samsung Galaxy Tab series, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the Blackberry Playbook and the Asus Eee Slate.
eBook readers are small in size, thin and light and are portable enough to be carried around either in a purse or even in the pocket. Its average size is around 6 inches. Tablets have a much larger screen averaging around 9 inches, although the enhanced screen allows one to enjoy media and multitasking. Some tablets may be of the same size of an eBook reader but may be heavier due to their data storage, additional processing, and other built-in functions.
A dedicated e-reader does just that – allows a reader to read electronic materials specially e-books. The eBook reader allows them the luxury of curling up in a chair and indulging in their hobby using a device which is similar to a hardcover book rather than having to sit in front of a computer or a laptop for the same purpose. On the other hand, a tablet can do this and some more. Beyond allowing eBook reading, tablets allow their users to browse the web, play games, watch videos and movies, use the e-mail, share files, compose documents, conduct video calls and use the social media.
For those readers whose basic needs include only downloading and reading e-books and are on a tight budget should opt for eBook readers. A tablet with its many added features and tasks would naturally cost much more than an eBook reader.
Readers should answer some questions – how often do they read books and how important is colour; do they read only text-based books or books with colours and graphics; does the reading go for long stretches of time; the effects of LCD screens on eye strains; and the need for constant access to the web and to various e-book stores.
Based on their answers which would show their requirements, buyers should weigh their investments against the usage that they are hoping to get out of the investment and make their choice between an eBook reader and a tablet accordingly.
Comparison Between Popular E-Books in the Market
Whether you are looking for a new eBook reader or are thinking of upgrading your old device, there are some eBook readers in the market to suit different budgets and requirements of individual readers, each reader with different features and quality.
One of the earliest eBook readers was the Sony Reader. The Sony Reader PRST2HBC comes in standard grey or black while the Sony Reader PRST2RC arrives in either white or red. The Sony Reader P
RS, at 10 ounces and with a 6-inch E-ink display, features a touch screen and a visual keyboard for navigation as well as note-taking. A LED light supports reading under low-light conditions. With a 512 MB, built-in memory the Sony Reader PRS battery lasts for page turns numbering 7500 with a single charge.
Barnes & Noble
One of the big names in e-book readers, the company, features the popular Nook in two flavours – Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch Reader and Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. The primary reader comes with an e-ink display, a 6-inch touch screen and the capacity to store up to 1000 books and newspapers and magazines. A single charge lasts up to two months with an average reading of 30 minutes in a day.
The GlowLight version has the same features only differing in the backlit touch screen, which makes reading in the dark possible. The battery life is up to one month on a 30-minute average reading per day.
In both the devices, you can extend the memory by up to 32 GB with the micro SD card slot thereby making it possible to increase the storage capability many folds.
One of the best in the market, Amazon’s Kindle range has the perfect combination of content and hardware. Amazon has quite a range of options for its readers with the basic Kindle, the Kindle Keyboard, the Kindle PaperWhite, the Kindle PaperWhite 3G and the Kindle DX.
The basic comes with a 6-inch E-ink display and can store up to 1000 books. The Kindle 3G has a physical keyboard, 3G connectivity and stereo speakers added to these features. The storage capacity is double that of the basic Kindle. It is larger and also heavier, and a single charge lasts up to two months on an average reading of 30-minutes per day.
For those readers looking for a bigger screen, there is the Kindle DX which comes with a larger 9.7-inch display. It has a small built-in keyboard below the screen, stereo speakers, free 3G and also supports text search, albeit within limits. With a memory of 1.4GB, it can store up to 1500 books. Though it is costlier than the other models, has a battery with the life up to three weeks only.
In answer to Barnes & Noble’s GlowLight, Amazon came up with the Paperwhite, which allows night reading with its light at the top instead of a backlit one. The basic Kindle Paperwhite boasts of a sharp 6-inch touch screen and can store up to 1000 books. With an average of half-an-hour of reading every day, battery life is up to two months on a single charge.
The Kindle Paperwhite 3G with its added feature of free 3G is costlier than the basic Paperwhite and is the top of the choice.
Though not as popular as many eBook readers, Kobo has an excellent range of devices for e-readers, some of them being the Kobo Mini, the Kobo Glo, and the Kobo Touch.
The Kobo Mini comes with a 5-inch E-ink touch screen and can store up to 1000 books. The battery is said to last up to a month. As the name suggests, the Kobo Glo allows one the luxury of reading in the dark and comes with the other features of Kobo Mini. The battery life is 55 hours with the light continuously on. Though the price tags of Kobo Glo and the Kobo Touch are same, the later comes at discounted prices in many places. With a 6-inch E-ink touch screen, the device has a battery life of up to a month. Both the Kobo Glo and the Kobo touch allow users to extend their memory storage to 32 GB with the micro SD card slots.
Mobile devices which have the capability of displaying texts such as PDAs and smart phones can also be used as e-book readers.
So Which Reader is the Best?
If the price is a constraint, then the basic Kindle would be the ideal choice followed by Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch Reader. Though Kobo Mini is also cheap, its main disadvantages are the size of the screen and poor battery life.
- Reading in the dark
For those readers who would also want to read in the dark, their choice lies between the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight and the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle Paperwhite, at 212 PPI, has the sharpest screen in the eBook reader market. Hence, the Kindle with its sharper screen and the small price gets an edge over the Nook with its expandable memory.
- Weight and Feel
The feel and comfort of any eBook reader are essential as it has to be carried around. The Sony Reader and the Kobo Mini are the lightest of the eBook readers followed closely by the basic Kindle.
The introduction of portable reading devices, providing users with realistic book-reading experience, has led to e-books gaining wider interest and becoming familiar. The easy accessibility of a wide variety of e-books and the convenience of carrying a library of books around have made avid readers adopt eBook readers. eBook readers have done reading anywhere and anything a possibility with a library at hand. It is, therefore, no wonder that the shift from printed to digital material has seen an increasing rise with the advance of technology. However, the primary catch here is to find a publishing company that caters to your whole needs. We, therefore, provide with all the options to bring out the best product ever.