Monday May 9, 2011
As discussed in this episode, E-Readers vary in design and presentation. Perhaps the most popular permutation of the E-Reader comes in a tablet form factor with an E-Ink screen.
E-Ink is a revolutionary display method based on electronic paper. The technology revolves around charging transparent microcapsules suspended in a clear fluid. These capsules contain negatively charged black and positive charged white particles. When positive electricity is applied, the white particles move to the top, when negative electricity is applied, the black particles move to the top. To put it simply, these capsules can be "turned on or off" to display shapes on the screen such as text or a grayscale image.
However, the rise of tablet computers has created a new kind of LCD (liquid crystal display) based E-Readers as well – such as the Apple iPad or the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.
While each device has its pros and cons, the biggest negative against LCD based E-Readers is eye fatigue due to their backlit screens. By contrast, E-Ink closely recreates the experience of reading ink on regular paper, which lessens eyestrain.
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The consumer has many options when looking for an E-Reader. Here are the ones covered in this episode:
Amazon Kindle 3
The Kindle is arguably the most popular E-Ink based E-Reader. It benefits from a very small and comfortable form factor, sharp screen with fast response time, long-lasting battery, built in wi-fi or optional 3G connectivity, a robust online book selection and it even play apps and music.
Canada's entry into the E-Reader market. Although it lacks a physical keyboard and audio playback capabilities, this E-Ink based reader is as capable as the Kindle. A good alternative that generally costs a bit less.
Barnes & Knoble NOOK Color
The NOOK originally attempted to complete in the E-Ink market with the Kindle, however, recently changed its tune with the Nook Color. Opting for a full color LCD touch-screen instead of E-Ink, the Color benefits from being able to take full advantage of Magazines, Newspapers and even web-browsing. Unlike the Kindle, the Color has a shorter battery life and can strain the eyes after extended viewing. Because the NOOK is a Android tablet with a custom skin running atop, the device can be modified to run the latest version of the Android operating system. In effect, making it the cheapest tablet on the market.
A traditional E-Reader offering with an E-Ink screen, however, with touch based gestures replacing physical buttons. The form factor is smaller and more colorful and its book selection is good, but not to the level's of Amazon or Kobo.
Apple iPad 2
Arguably the most popular and successful tablet on the market. Among its many features is iBooks – an Apple built E-Reader that is connected to their iTunes book store. The iPad 2 features the biggest screen of the bunch. However, its lower resolution can leave a lot to be desired with finer text. Likewise, it's an LCD-based screen, so eye fatigue can become an issue. One last interesting point, the iPad also has apps for the Kindle, Kobo and Barnes & Noble bookstores, allowing you to read any of your purchases on the device.