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e-Readers: Where We’re Going and Where We’ve Been

by Dee Mason

 

If you’d walked up to someone just ten years ago and asked him or her how popular books will be in ten years, they’d probably tell you that they’d have become obsolete. ‘They’ll be completely out-dated and replaced by computers’, they’d likely say. Yet, here we are and books are still very much around. Sure, they’re now available in digital form, but the great thing is that millions of real ‘paper’ books are still being sold every year. This is a great development for all reading fans; it means that you’ve always got a choice – sometimes you want to curl up on your leather loveseat recliner with a chunky paperback, and other times you need a slim-line e-reader for on the plane or train. So, rather than becoming obsolete, books have evolved and grown with the times.

 

Reading remains one of the most popular leisure activities in the world, and rightly so. The huge number of e-readers now on the market offers book-lovers the ability to read in any way that they like: but which of these new e-readers provides the best balance of functionality and value? Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular options for bookworms and casual readers alike.

 

Sony e-Reader
 

This was one of the very first e-book readers to hit the market when it was released to the US market in 2006. At the time, the market for e-readers was quite low, and as such the device had quite a low take-up. Over the years, though, as e-readers became more popular, the Sony Reader became much more prevalent. It’s been through a number of design changes over the years, and the latest model, the PRS-T1, offers a 6” screen, built-in Wi-Fi, and a screen which utilises e-ink technology–much like another model that we’ll be discussing later. This technology actually simulates printed ink on a page, rather than the text being made up of pixels as on a standard LCD screen. This means that the Sony Reader can be used in many different lighting conditions, including bright sunlight. One of the key benefits of the Sony unit–and something that it has over its peers–is that it supports the EPUB format, which is used by many digital libraries.

 

Apple iPad
 

Ok, so this isn’t strictly an e-reader, but one of its main selling points is that it can be used as such. Apple’s latest ‘must-have’ device comes equipped with iBooks, an app which simulates a library and even has a built-in store. One of the great things about reading on the iPad is that it offers a great re-creation of reading a real book. For example, you can actually ‘turn’ each page by dragging from the bottom corner. Little touches like this set it apart from the other e-book reading devices on the market. Plus, it can do a ton of other stuff too, so it’s well worth looking into.

 

Amazon Kindle
 

How could we discuss e-readers without mentioning this? At present, the Kindle is the best-selling e-book reader in the world. It has almost singlehandedly invigorated the e-book market and can be commonly seen on trains, planes, cars, and almost everywhere else! Offering advanced e-ink technology, reading on the Kindle is an accurate simulation of reading a paper book, as evidenced by its runaway success across the world. There are two models available at present: one with free 3G to download books wherever and whenever, and another with W-Fi alone.

 

So what is the future of e-readers? Well, from the looks of things, they will keep gaining popularity as more and more models hit the market. Popular devices like the Kindle will likely start to evolve to offer more features; for example, it won’t be surprising if the next generation of e-readers offers backlighting on the display (something only the iPad has at present). The text-to-voice technology that many of these readers has will also improve to give listeners a smoother and less robotic listening experience. Overall, it’s fantastic to see that reading remains so popular. As it has been throughout history, reading and writing remains one of the most important things any of us can do–and it is technology like e-readers that will ensure that it continues long into the digital age.
 

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you can read the author’s blog on e-readers at www.ereaderjoy.blogspot.com

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