Thursday, January 13, 2011

E-Book Readers for the Back-Country

Backroads Product-E-Book Readers for the Back-Country

Books and backroads go together.  There is something about reading a book in the middle of somewhere that is relaxing and a special activity.  For years, we've carried piles of books to read while on our trips.  Living in a rural area many years ago, we almost moved across the county line when we found out the next county had an outstanding library system, while ours was just a one room library!

Well, in this electronic age you can take thousands of books with you in a device that is 8X5 inches in size!!  I will review the three major e-book readers out there.  First, the new Kindle from Amazon, next the Nook Color from Barnes and Nobel, and of course, the Apple IPAD.

You will most likely own an E-Book reader sooner or later, and probably sooner.  This Christmas after extensive review our tech savy daughter purchased the NookColor for us as a Christmas present so we would have books to read in our travels south this winter.

I know there are many who say you can't replace the experience of reading from books. My first impressions from reading an e-book I do agree it is different than reading a book.  I tend to read in paragraphs and go back and forth quite a bit.  The e-book makes you read in a more linear way.  If you read sentence by sentence, e-books will be a pretty quick adjustment.  The screen is easy to read and it is easy to "swipe" to turn the page either forward or backward.

You will more than likely read many more books, since they are so easy to download.  And if you are searching for a particular book from a review you came across, it is easy to get it within seconds. I have also downloaded books that I passed on while at the library.  It was easy to download it and see if I liked it instead of checking it out and hauling it home and then back to the library.  In most cases, the libraries allow you to download PDF files.

It is great to be able to check out books in the middle of somewhere.  The most popular format is epub.  The Kindle will support this format fall 2011.  If your into buying books the Kindle is fine.  If you want to download library books the NookColor or the IPAD is the way to go.

One other use for e-readers is to put ALL those manuals on stuff you buy on the device.  Stick them in one folder and you have them handy in one spot when you need them.  If you're smart, you will file them under the card reader so you can easily move them when you upgrade your reader in the future.

You will find Web browsers on some devices.  The reason our daughter purchased the NookColor was she knew we would be checking e-mails and browsing the web.  It seems the browser is somewhat lacking, but it does work.  It does not allow for streaming of web internet or web radio broadcasts.  It also does allow some video to play on it.  It does play podcasts and it HAS Pandora!!   We stream from the Nook right into our speakers.  You can purchase a 1/8" stereo plug at both ends and plug into a speaker system.  See this link for our recommended speaker system.  You can also listen to Pandora while reading a book.  If you're into music, Pandora is a web site you will enjoy:  Pandora  You can purchase an electrostatic stylus to make cruising the net easier on the Nook.

Magazines on the readers:  This is really where the NookColor shines.  I can see why magazine publishers are excited about the tablet computers.  I would really rather read a book than a e-reader all things being equal; but a well written magazine formatted for an IPAD or NookColor will quickly make you forget paper magazines.  Soon the publishers will catch on and offer video and audio embedded into your e-reader.

Should you buy it now?  Yes, buy it now.  Why miss all those wonderful books you can read on an e-book.  Changes are coming because the market will soon be flooded with tablet computers.   Price will probably go down significantly; but more importantly, new color screens will make them more readable.  You just have to wait a year or so for the enhancements.

To decide which e-reader to purchase, sign on to your library's e-book site and see which readers they support and the number of books available.  The new books tend to show up first on the e-book sites, so if you're into best sellers getting them through your library will save you LOTS of money.  As mentioned earlier IPAD or NookColor are supported by libraries.  The Kindle will have that format in fall 2011.

The Apple IPAD which "everybody" expected to fail in the market place has become the new "hot" tech product.  Somebody once described market research at Apple as the left side of Steve Jobs brain talking to the right side.  You have to give Apple credit they know what you need before you do!!

The IPAD is great for magazines and kids.  It is heavy, but has a larger screen than the NookColor or the Kindle.  It is great for browsing the web.

It is good for reading books, but cannot be used in full sunlight.  Book availability is less than for the Kindle or the Nook.  The current generation of the IPAD is a great product.  The next generation is probably going to be significantly better.   But, will you always be waiting for the next best thing, when you can be enjoying it now?

This is the one we own.  It is halfway between a Kindle and an IPAD.  So it has compromises between both.  It is neither an IPAD or a Kindle and has the disadvantage of just coming out.  It does use the Android operating system, which  gives you applications.  However, Barnes and Noble has "locked" the operating system to give them more control over content.  So it is similar to the IPAD in that regard.

As mentioned earlier Version 1.2 update  allows streaming video and audio on the NookColor.  With a good wi-fi connection I can listen to radio stations from home or anywhere else on the planet.   There are lots of books available from our library in the epub format so I cruise the new book listings every several days to see what is new.  You can easily download books even with a phone line connection.

This started the e-book revolution.  The battery lasts for a month.  You can read it easily in direct sunlight.  It weighs only 8.5 oz or half of the NookColor.  The downside is that it is in black and white only.  So it doesn't matter for books, but magazines and other products may not display as well on the Kindle.

It has Wi-fi, but cannot display video.  So it might work for checking e-mail, but surfing the web will take you right back into the dark ages.

If you're into ONLY reading books AND buy them, this is a no-brainer for the price.  The Kindle will be around for a long time.  You will own more than one e-book reader in the near future and the Kindle can be one of them.  It is inexpensive to test the waters by starting out with the Kindle.

So there is the future of reading AND it is here now.  Pick one of the above.  You cannot go wrong.


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