Sunday, April 10, 2011
Product Review: Kindle and eBook Readers
I said I would make a post reviewing my thoughts about my Kindle a long time ago, and here it is.
For a long time, I was very opposed to eBook readers. In my opinion, books were meant to be ink on paper, not light from a screen. I unknowingly accused all readers of having bright, computer-like screens that would hurt my eyes after a few short minutes of reading, and I feared that the batteries would die in just a few hours, whereas a book never needs to be charged.
Last December, I was at Barnes and Noble when the new Nook Color was on display. A salesman began talking to my mom (a librarian) and I about the cool features. We checked out both the old Nook and the Nook color and were rather impressed. The original Nook had an E-Ink screen, which really makes the screen look like a printed book. (Friends who have seen my Kindle with its E-Ink screen think that it is off because it really doesn't look like an electronic screen.) A cool feature with the Nook is that it did have a color touchscreen at the bottom of the device for navigation. The Nook Color was all a touchscreen with color, so it looked very sharp, and it also had some other applications aside from books. Since I have an iPhone, many of these extra apps would be extraneous, and since the battery life was shorter, though still around 8 hours, I liked the original Nook better. By the time we were ready to leave, I was convinced that I wanted a Nook for Christmas. The only thing I didn't like was that the display reset that is necessary for an E-Ink screen bothered me. (This reset causes a black "flash" when you turn the page.)
When we got home, my mom and I started looking up other types of eBook readers, even though I was sure I wanted the Nook. There were many varieties of readers, but it quickly became clear that there were really only two that would be useful to me: the Barnes and Noble Nook and the Amazon Kindle. These two readers have significantly larger selections of books than most other readers, and in general, the books were cheaper. The only other option we considered was an iPad, but once again I had a good computer and an iPhone, so the other iPad uses would have little impact on me, and once again battery life and screen type were disadvantages for reading. Also, the iPad is many times as expensive. When looking online, the Amazon Kindle began to gain ground on the Nook. The Kindle Store has the largest selection of eBooks available at the current time, and it had a longer battery life. The Kindle lacked the small color touchscreen, but it had a small keyboard for easy searching in the Kindle Store.
In the end, it was a very close call, but I wound up getting the Kindle. One option I did not choose was to get the Kindle 3G, which is slightly more expensive initially, but there is no cost to access 3G networks to download books anywhere. As nice as this feature is, I thought I rarely would need to download a book away from home, which has continued to hold true.
As I have said many times since receiving my Kindle, I absolutely love it. It is very light and is smaller than most books that I read on it would be in print, so it saves space even by having one book on it, let alone 30+ like I do now. Though not all books are available in eBook format, many are and those that aren't are constantly being added. It is also very convenient to simply go on the Amazon website and choose a few books to download instead of having to drive to the store to get a book. Also, eBooks are frequently 50% off, and occasionally more! Many of the classics are free to download, and those that aren't usually cost a dollar or less. Another silly advantage is that you will never lose your place in a book again! The device remembers where you are. Even if you start reading on your eBook reader, then pick up on your computer, and then come back to the reader, as long as you are connected to the internet your spot will be automatically updated to the last page read.
I would STRONGLY recommend an eBook reader to anyone who even just occasionally reads. They are much more convenient than traditional books, and in the long run can be cheaper. For those who are looking to go "green", they obviously save a LOT of paper. I would recommend looking at both the Nook and the Kindle, because each have perks, but I would be hesitant to recommend other devices since the Kindle and Nook have drastically larger stores.
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