In a short period of just a few years, e-readers have made a big turnaround. Once the sole province of early adopting tech geeks, e-book readers have quickly become a ubiquitous device that’s been inducted into everyday use. It’s easy to see why. Much more convenient to pull out for a quick read on a packed commuter train or bus, many e-readers also make buying new books and magazines as effortless as the press of a button.
Even with the popularity of the Apple iPad and other tablets, e-readers have continued to fare well. Instead of being pushed out of existence, the lower cost e-reader seems to be flourishing in its own niche product category. While tablets are still too expensive to compete on par with e-readers, the story may be very different when tablet prices come down eventually. For now, however, e-readers serve a dedicated purpose, at a price point many are more willing to pay for than full-featured tablets.
While the product category has had several years now to mature, new models offering new features are constantly being introduced to the market. The Amazon Kindle is perhaps still the world’s most well-known and arguably bestselling e-reader, but many other competitive options have emerged since. Possibly the most distinguishing feature of this generation of e-readers is the touchscreen, which dispenses with the need for a hardware keyboard, making the use of these devices more natural.
Barnes & Noble has recently released an update of its baseline Nook, while still keeping its flagship Color model, which is more of a low-end Android tablet. Launched with the tagline ‘The Simple Touch Reader,’ the new Nook has been redesigned to tackle the Kindle in its key areas of strength: usability and sole dedication to providing a pure reading experience.
The new Nook is about the same size as its biggest rival, but is not as tall, which it has achieved by doing away with the physical keyboard. Like the Kindle, the Nook screen utilises e-Ink Pearl technology, which offers more contrast and better readability under different lighting than first generation e-Ink screens. Unlike the Kindle though, the Nook’s 6-inch screen is also a touchscreen. While the official claim is a battery life that’s sufficient for two months, this should be expected to differ in real usage. And although wireless connectivity is offered via Wi-Fi, there’s no 3G data connectivity.
The Kobo eReader Touch is a recent model with the notable distinction of actually beating the new Nook to market as the touchscreen competitor to the Kindle. Weighing less than 200 grams, it’s also one of the lightest and smallest e-readers to date. Both the Nook and Kobo offer expandability through memory card slots, some-thing the Kindle lacks. Minuses include a battery life that doesn’t match up to the Nook or Kindle. One of its early investors and distributors, Borders, has also recently gone out of business. Fortunately, Kobo is quick to state that it does not rely on Borders for content, and that Borders customers are able to port their existing e-books to new Kobo accounts.
Sony, an early manufacturer of e-Ink-based e-readers, also released a new touch-enabled model in its Reader line earlier this year, the updated Reader Daily Edition. Its sleek silver case reflects Sony’s distinctively beautiful design aesthetic. Endowed with a 7-inch touchscreen, it’s the largest of the e-readers listed here, which may yet appeal to some users. The Kindle, which is only slightly smaller, has a much smaller screen, since its hardware keyboard takes up about a fifth of its front surface. Wireless connectivity is provided through Wi-Fi (complemented by 3G in the US).
Eventually, the prices of tablets may come down enough to truly challenge the need for dedicated e-readers. For some though, bright LCD screens may never serve as a comfortable medium for reading text for long periods of time, whereas many others have been successfully converted from traditional ink-and-paper books by e-ink screens. Add to that the fact that prices may also continue to decline even as bigger and better features are introduced, and e-readers may indeed be around for some time to provide the latest vessel of the printed word for your reading enjoyment.
|P. A. Majeed on 18 October 2011 ,17:49 |
Its one of the wonderful Tech article i have read. Really worked as intensive supplement to my tech world. thanks RD Asia.
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