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Monday, April 4, 2011

What to look for when buying an e-book reader

Tips about what to consider

A friend has just bought a Kindle, and has decided that she loves it.  Unpacking it, charging it, and getting it going was a learning exercise, however, and in the process she and I learned a lot about the different options.

Charging.  (Battery, not invoice!)  Most are re-charged through the USB port of a computer.  If you are likely to be away from computers, it is a good idea to find out if you can buy a mains charger, and what it involves and what it costs.

Touchscreen or buttons?  The general opinion is that a touchscreen is a lot more fun and much easier to operate, but some e-readers don't have that capacity.  If you're thinking of buying one without a touchscreen, it is important to make sure that the controls are easy to use.

Downloading your library.  This is usually done via a USB computer port.  If you want to be computer-independent, explore the options of connecting via WiFi or 3G.

How many books will your e-reader store?  The rule of thumb is that 1GB of memory will hold 1,000 books.  If that is not enough for you, look for a model that has a memory card slot (also handy for lending books).

How heavy and how large?  For my friend, one of the advantages of the Kindle is that it is the size and weight of a standard paperback, and fits easily into her purse.  Six inches (152.4 mm), measured diagonally, is a popular size for the screen.  You can get bigger ones (great for reading magazines), but they weigh more, too.

The small print.  Easiest on the pocket and the e-reader battery is black on gray.  But color is more spectacular.

Reading in bright light.  Monochrome screens (black on gray)  are less reflective than color, so are easier to read on the beach.

Do you really need one?  You can read e-books on other gadgets, such as iPhones, some mobile phones, laptops, and netbooks. 

3 comments:

Johnny E said...

which ones are good for people with limited vision, ie. scrolling pages with large fonts?

Joan Druett said...

I asked that myself, as my own sight isn't as good as it could be, and my friend said that the fonts can be enlarged on her Kindle. However, I believe that buying an e-reader with a larger screen (the one designed for reading magazines) is supposed to be the better option, though of course it is not as portable.

Rick Spilman said...

I love my Kindle, though I will admit to being envious of my wife's newer model which has the same size screen but is smaller and fits more easily in pockets.

Kindle fonts can be resized from tiny to quite large. You also can choose the typeface (condensed, regular, sans-serif), line spacing and words per line.

I love having a library of over 500 books that I carry around with me. I also have gotten use to having my place bookmarked each book and in having the ability to highlight and make notes as well as electronically searching through each or all of the books on my Kindle.

I also love all the long out of print books that I can now conveniently read. I'm definitely hooked.