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E-Books VS Books: How the E-Reader Measures up to Traditional Print Media

Sir Francis Bacon said it best when he uttered the words “knowledge is power”. One of the best methods to increase your wisdom is reading. Whether it is a magazine, book, newspaper or blog everyone has the ability to learn new things by taking the time to read. With the release of Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s improved Kindle Reader there has been a lot of discussion about society’s preference when it comes to reading material. Does purchasing the iPad make more sense than one of the top e-Readers? Or is it better to modify your netbook to read e-books? Perhaps, sticking to old fashioned paper is the best option?

ebook-taking-over-book-book

How to Read the Comparison Graph

This graph will display some of the methods that are available to acquire your reading material. Top e-readers like the new Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and the Plastic Logic Que Reader will be compared to the iPad, a converted Netbook and traditional paper reading material. These will all be given a grade ranging from low to high on certain characteristics that apply to general usefulness of the product; or in some cases a simple “yes” or “no”. Important characteristics will be scrutinized as such: how easy it is to carry around; the level of comfort and ease for reading; battery life span; durability; is there a glare and can the text size be adjusted for reading ease; is the read-to-me option available; can it play videos and; does it have a touchscreen.

X

Portability Handling Battery longevity Readability Read-to-me Videos
Reader

high

high

high

medium

high

no

no

Netbook

high

medium

medium

medium

low

yes

yes

Kindle

high

high

high

medium

high

yes

no

Que

high

high

high

medium

high

no

no

iPad

high

high

medium

medium

high

no

yes

Paper

high

high

n/a

high

medium

no

no

Sony Reader

e-reader

Plus Side: The Reader’s sleek frame, paper-like screen and built-in LED reading light make your reading experience as comfortable as possible.   If you need to take notes or highlight important sections of text the virtual keyboard makes this process nice an easy.

Downside: Other than the ability to play MP3 and AAC audio files to listen to with a pair of headphones the Reader does not have any additional features.

Price: $199.00 – $399.00

Kindle

kindle

Plus Side: The Kindle has all of the reading comforts that makes the Reader a pleasure to use; however, it comes with the added Read-To-Me feature.  This feature makes the Kindle a useful tool for long driving trips and is a great feature for the visually impaired.

Downside: The Kindle does not have a touchscreen, therefore, a QWERTYkeyboard is required to add notes or use the search feature.  The addition of a keyboard results in less room for the screen.

Price: $260-$489

Que

que

Plus Side: The Que is specifically designed to target business users.  It has the ability to handle any e-book in the ePUB format as well as a document created from the Microsoft Office suite.

Downside: As Wired put it, the Que is tall and slender with a fat price.

Price: $650.00 – $800.00

iPad

ipad

Plus Side: The iPad is not just an e-reader, it comes with all of the added features that the iPhoneTouch has.  This includes the ability to listen to itunes, watch videos, browse the net and add a wide variety of apps.

Downside: It is basically just a larger version of the iPhone.

Price: $499.00 – $829.00

Netbook

netbook

Plus Side: Low cost, ultra-portable, several USB ports, webcam, LED backlit screens, integrated speakers, Wi-Fi.  Microsoft Reader can be downloaded and this program has a text-to-speech feature.

Downside:As an e-reader the Netbook is more awkward to handle than the other models.  There is also the problem of the glow from the screen tiring your eyes.  In general the tech support is the major issue.  Corners had to be cut in order to keep costs low, so you’re looking at 1 year of support for about $199, 90 minutes for $159 and 30 minutes for $59. Ouch.

Price: $299.00 -$829.00

Paper

paper

Plus Side: Disposable or permanent. Having lots of books in your house makes you look smart. You can lend it to friends. People won’t be inclined to steal it. Your reading material won’t disappear because of technical difficulties. 

Downside: Paper is clearly not the earth-friendliest alternative for reading.

Price: Newspapers will set you back $2.00- $4.00 at most, while books can depend if you are buying them new or used. You could always do something completely archaic like head down to your local library where reading material is as free as a bird.

The top e-readers appear to be as comfortable as reading an average novel; and the amount of space that can be saved is very appealing. Similar to how news on the internet is replacing print media this may be the future for reading material.

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