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An E-Reader for E: The Quest

June 1, 2011
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If you’re shopping for an e-reader, a books and publishing convention full of book bloggers is an excellent place to do market research. I heard rave reviews of the Kindle fairly consistently, as well as some Nook love. Some iPad enthusiasts in the mix.

I got some hands-on experience with the new Kobo, and the Libre by Aluratek. I did not care for the Kobo. Not sure if it was the particular demonstration model, but the whole touch interface kept not doing what I wanted or expected. So that’s out.

The people at the Aluratek booth couldn’t have been nicer, when confronted with a finicky e-reader skeptic like me. I imagine I had to be a tough customer. Aluratek makes the Libre reader, which I’d learned about because it was library compatible.¬† The Libre color didn’t look bad. Backlit color LCD screen, and can handle music and video apps as well.

Priced around $130ish.

Yesterday, I went to Barnes and Noble and Best Buy to get some hands on experience with demo models. An “e-reader petting zoo,” if you will.

I have mixed feelings about the Nook. The Nook color is going to catch a glare if I read it in a sunny park. (A place I do love to read books.) They’re apparently unveiling a new, stripped-down black and white Nook with fewer bells and whistles. Its pages don’t blink when they turn. There’s also no audio functionality… so if I wanted to do audiobooks on it too, that would not work. A plus of the Nook- easy access to in-store support, and in-store wifi. For those who know how bad I can be with technology gremlins, this is an asset indeed. I think you can also loan books to fellow Nook-users.

I tried out the Kindle, and am finding that I like the display (can handle glare) more than I anticipated, and could get used to how the pages turn with buttons. While it’s not library compatible (yet) there are tons of free e-books. There’s also something to be said for not-backlit… the experience of staring at a screen is different for the eyes and the brain than staring at a printed page. I’m aware of this, as someone who’s not good at sleeping. More glowing screen-time = potentially tougher time winding down. It’s a factor.

A surprise- I tried out a Sony reader, in Best Buy, and I liked how it felt. Kind of springy buttons, decently intuitive. $175-ish, library compatible. Need to explore the Sony Touch screen further. Daily edition’s too big.

I am learning that I have mixed feelings about the way pages turn. On the one hand, I think the screen flickering-black and then resolving could get old as I read. On the other, a Libre I tried didn’t do the blinking-screen-to-change pages thing… and I found it disorienting, lost my place in the text. Could I adapt with practice? Which would be more conducive to immersing myself in the story- invisible page turns or flickering ones?

I really, really like how the iPad handles page turns- it’s almost like a real book, which I appreciate. I have mixed feelings about the iPad in general– the price tag, the screen on a sunny day… and the fact that it’s more computer than I really need from a glorified e-Reader. (Then again, given recent laptop woes and computer swooning fits… I might want a backup system in place. The hefty price tag is also a consideration. Even though it’s a birthday gift… it’s much more expensive than any of the others. Unless you consider it an eReader + a mini laptop… then the price averages out. Another factor is the size… I would have to get a bigger bag, to allow for the transport of a thing bigger than a trade paperback.

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