Saturday, January 28, 2012

Entering E-Reader Land.

You may be familiar with the recent explosion of interest in e-readers and tablets, especially after the holiday shopping season. In fact, according to recent reports as many as one in four Americans own an e-reader/tablet. It has become a rapidly growing market that is being shaped by how we consume media. And as with any new tech trend a good deal of confusion is abounding by people approaching it. With that in mind I thought I might bring up a few points for you to consider if your thinking of getting yourself an e-reader/tablet.

E-Ink vs. LCD - Are you a big reader? Do you spend a lot of your time reading, going through multiple books a week, needing only crisp text and long battery life to satisfy you? If that is the case there are a number of great low-cost options out there that make use of the revolutionary electronic ink display. They're known for minimizing eye strain and being comfortable to read even in direct sunlight. However unlike their alternative they are limited by needing external light sources if your reading in low light or at night.

If your a reader but find yourself desiring a different experience, the option of LCD might be for you. Devices with an LCD display are quite capable of providing you with colorful media like magazines in addition to a bit more flexibility. While many E-Ink based devices are capable of accessing the web and other functions it is here where they are limited. In contrast though, LCD's tend to give you the ability to view web sites in color not to mention other forms of media. 

The simple answer here is that if your looking for a pure reading experience go with an E-Ink device. If your looking for more flexibility and don't mind the shorter battery life then LCD may be for you.

Kindle vs. Nook - One of the biggest questions most consumers have been asking is which of the two biggest names out there is right for them. It isn't any thing to answer to be fair, but it is one you really should spend time considering. Many experts have been relegating simply to which ecosystem your more comfortable with; Barnes & Noble or Amazon. And while that is a factor I must say my own view is a little different.

For me the choice boils down to a few key issues:
1.) Do you value hardware or software? This is a primary concern if your looking at the newer LCD based devices like the Kindle Fire, Nook Color or Nook Tablet. While their specs are similar you should take note that the Nook takes the edge when it comes to hardware. Both Nook's are equipped with external micro sd card slots allowing you to not only expand their storage but also giving you the option to run alternate operating systems.

The Kindle though takes the lead when it comes to Software. By that, I mean that the Kindle has at it's disposal a somewhat larger selection of applications along with the impressive wealth of media Amazon is known for. Currently Nook users can only use third party distributors for streaming movies and video while Amazon has it's own library of streamable content as well as partnerships with other distributors.

2.) Specialization or Adaptability. While both brands have made devices that specialize in media consumption I find that there seems to be a difference between the two. For example the Fire seems to me to excel at multimedia like video, where it clearly seems to specialize itself a bit more than the Nook's. But the flip side is that it doesn't lend itself to being adaptable to the user's needs as well. More specifically, the Nooks instead feel designed to take advantage of flexibility. Don't like the stock version of Android? No problem, pop in a sd card with another version and boom - your booting into whatever flavor that suits your taste. Your device short on storage space or acting like it's got an issue, again you have options via your built in card slot. Even without the card slot you can change something as simple(yet user satisfying) as your back ground, something the Fire can't claim without alterations.

These may be some vague generalizations but I feel they're still valid things to consider. And I can honestly say that I personally prefer the Nook devices, but for me their hardware appeal and customization is a major bonus. I have seen a Fire first hand and can't fault the design, it's a nice little device in it's own right.