Saturday, June 18, 2011

E-Readers, Part 4: Light My Fire

And Alice’s Choice is….(insert drumroll, although it’s hardly that dramatic)…the Kindle!

My Kindle (accessorized with a DecalGirl skin in Van Gogh’s Blosooming Almond Tree)

I purchased a Kindle, and six weeks later I am still pleased with my decision. I am not going to do a point-by-point comparison because I detailed that for you in Part 3 of the series; however, I will mention the key features that helped me to make my decision. I will make all of my comparisons to the Nook, 1st generation because at the time of my purchase the Nook Simple Touch Reader had not yet been introduced.

Reason #1: It uses an E-Ink Pearl display. – It is the latest technology and the clearest screen on the market. The screen doesn’t cause eye fatigue like some screens can, and I can read clearly even in the brightest direct sunlight.

Reason #2: It does not use touchscreen navigation. – I hate touchscreens! I am constantly resuscitating my slowly dying, on-its-last-leg Samsung Blackjack because I love the keypad. I am never without it because if I am I may be forced to borrow someone else’s phone, and it seems that everyone has touchscreens nowadays. This is a personal preference to me, but, in my opinion, it is simply easier to navigate. I can search, highlight and type more quickly on it than I can on a touchscreen.

Reason #3: It has the largest built-in storage. – Although it is not expandable, I really do not need to hold more than 3,500 books.

Reason #4: It has the longest battery life, by far. – When comparing it to the Nook, 1st generation, there was no comparison between 2 months and 10 days.

Reason #5: It offers free public domain books from the Amazon website. – I try to read several classics a year, and it was important for me to be able to “purchase” them quickly, easily and free of charge. Once you have an account set up with Amazon, you can purchase e-books with one click.

Reason #6: It is text-to-speech capable. – Although it is not a feature I am currently using, I wanted the ability to do so.

Reason #7: It shares passages via Facebook. – If I choose to share a meaningful or funny passage from a book, I want to do so with a larger audience – my Facebook audience – not just my Nook Friends audience.

Reason #8: I often redeem my Swagbucks for gift cards. – I have a free account with Swagbucks which rewards members with points for searching the Internet and for completing other tasks. I usually accumulate enough points each month to redeem them for a $5 gift card. I can use them towards my e-books purchases, and this is another cost-effective way for me to buy books.

Drawback #1: The inability to change the battery yourself – This was one drawback I dwelt on; however, since the battery life is 2-3 years, I thought it very likely that I would purchase an updated model before the battery died completely and forever. In the case that I have not upgraded by that time I thought being without my Kindle for a few days a small drawback compared to all the reasons to purchase a Kindle.

Drawback #2: The current incompatibility with the Overdrive system – As I mentioned in Part 1 of the series, I frequent our local library and checking out books is important to me; however, I knew that I would have enough free or low cost e-books, as well as print books to keep me reading until later this year. I plan to have my Kindle for years and I thought spending a few months without Overdrive was not worth spending years with another device I wouldn’t be completely satisfied with. It’s called delayed gratification and hope that Kindle does what it says it will do.

Introduce the Nook Simple Touch Reader: Would I still buy the Kindle now that the new Nook is on the market? Yes. Although the battery life is now equivalent, I still would not trade the keypad and easily-accessible free public domain books. Also, the Nook Simple Touch Reader does not support MP3 files, and although I have an MP3 player, I like the flexibility of having that capability on my Kindle. It also does not allow basic web browsing. Since I do not own a personal laptop or a smartphone it was important for me to be able to check email or browse the internet even if I was not sitting in front of a desktop. It is by no means high-speed internet but in an emergency I wanted to have that ability. For me, the Nook does not offer anything I need that the Kindle does not, with the exception of being compatible with Overdrive and that will not be the case later this year. In contrast, Kindle has many features important to me that the Nook does not.

Another Consideration: Although Amazon has excellent customer service, they do not have a store with real-life salespeople. Barnes and Noble has friendly, knowledgeable employees who are devoted to the Nook device and who will give you hands-on instruction. As helpful as Amazon is, you will not receive this service, although Kindles are now being sold in more and more stores. You need to know which category you are in and how much hands-on time you require, if any at all, before purchasing your device.

Which Kindle did I buy? As stated in Parts 1 & 2 of the series, I had decided to buy a Wi-Fi only device; however, I elected to buy the one without special offers, and that is a decision I regret.

- At the time, the special offers were new and no one could tell me what they were; however, Amazon now details them on their website. The special offers do not interrupt reading and include a $20 gift card for $10, a Kindle book for $1.00, and a free $10 gift card after you spend $10 in Kindle books. These are money saving offers I did not receive, and I spent an additional $25 for my device.

- Another difference between the device with offers and those without are the screensavers. At the time, I was being a complete literary snob. I wanted my screensavers to be of Emily Dickinson, Ralph Ellison, and Herman Melville, among others. I did not want to turn off my device and see an ad for Verizon Wireless, for example. However, I have since learned that Amazon allows you to select your screensaver ads based upon your interests. For example, if I am interested in nature, I may receive screensavers from National Geographic and other nature-related companies. In hindsight, the literary screensavers are not as important as I once thought they were.

Concluding Remarks: The point of this installment in the series is to articulate why I chose the e-reader that I did. I am in no way saying this is the best device. I have 3 friends who have the Nook Color, and they all love it; they did their best to convince me to buy one. I hope this series has helped to differentiate between the devices and to make any impending or future decision easier, but I would like to stress that I do not believe there is any one right or wrong device. I think there are preferences; each person has their preference and the device that is right for them. One piece of advice that my local librarian gave to me when I was e-reader shopping was to look up potential reads on both the Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites and compare selection and pricing. This was the best advice I received because, after all, it’s not really about the electronic device it’s about the book. If you make your decision based upon that, it will be the right one. Happy Reading!

Part Five in my e-reader series (E-reader Accessory Giveaway) coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really useful and thorough review, thanks! I think the iPad is so overrated and if I'd get an e-reader, I'd get a kindle. But I am still not committing to the idea because I want to keep my life as gadget-free and uncluttered as I (professionally) can and I am still sitting on the fence. I do like the fact that it is easy on the eyes, though. We really don't need *another* computer-esque screen to wear out our poor eyes!

    This Good Life



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