Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stand alone ebook readers.

So, you want to buy a stand alone ebook reader device.

Welcome to a minefield!

There are several choices and my best advise is to RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! The 4 main devices available today are the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook, the KOBO from Borders and the Sony ebook readers. There are several others, but these are the main ones found online and in retail stores. Here is a website with specifications of each of these and a few other stand alone ebook readers: . There are many other websites with comparisons and typing "compare ebook reading devices" in any websearch site should yield other tables of comparison. YouTube is a fount of infomation about the unboxing and use of each ebook reader and you should use it as a resource in your research.

The two main ebook readers that I have been looking at are the Amazon Kindle WiFi and the Barnes and Noble NOOK WiFi. Why WiFi only? Well, they are cheaper. But if you want to spend an extra 50.00 or so you can get the WiFi /3G ones. There is no cost for the 3G as its included in the price - in other words - no monthly subscription fees.
Each of the 2 ebook readers have their own sources for ebooks. The Kindle is from and the Nook is from the Barnes and Noble website as well as support and downloads available in the Barnes and Noble stores.

Now if you have a smartphone, an iPad , iTouch or iPhone or a desktop computer, a laptop computer or a Tablet then there are ebook programs available to download and use. You have the greatest amount of freedom with one or more of these devices because if you buy a stand alone ebook reader you are limited to that devices' creator. You cannot read Kindle books on a Nook or Nook books on a Kindle without going through some kind of translation program (like Calibre on a computer). But there is DRM as well to consider and it is illegal to strip the DRM from a book bought either from Amazon or Barnes and Noble to make the book available on either device. The DRM makes it somewhat like DRM protected music and movies. On my Motorola Droid I have the Kindle app and Barnes and Noble Nook and KOBO and Aldiko ebook readers. Same on my desktop computer with the addition of Calibre.

Here is a comparision of the 2 top stand alone ebook readers. The Kindle has the BEST DISPLAY. It has an awesome display. Crisp, clear, clean. I am talking about the Kindle 3. Price is 139.00 for the WiFi version. The Kindle is very thin - about the thickness of a pencil. The Kindle has real honest to god buttons. All navigation and interaction is preformed through the buttons and d-pad. No touch screen here. Personally I like to browse and buy my ebooks from Barnes and Noble. I just feel more comfortable with it than the Amazon Kindle store, but that is just my personal preference. Only the Kindle has a Text-to- speech option where you can have the book read to you in either male of female voices. The voices are like the the animated insurance commercials on TV. Very robotic sounding.

The drawbacks of the Kindle are these. There is no way to change the battery. To replace the battery entails sending the unit back to Amazon as the unit is sealed. Also there is no memory expansion via SD cards. 4 Gig of ram with 3 Gig available is all you get. When MP3 music and games and other things are added that memory gets eaten up pretty fast from what I understand. ebooks themselves don't take up that much memory, but magazines, newspapers and games and other additions do. So, memory and battery are the 2 main problems on the Kindle WiFi. Games are available on Amazon Kindle store for the Kindle.

Next, the Barnes and Noble Nook or just Nook. The display is not as sharp and crisp as the Kindle. It is slower in turning pages and booting up than the Kindle. Other than the page up and page down buttons and power, everything on the Nook is Touch Screen. The Nook has a color bar at the bottom with book covers and menu items in color, but the main screen is BW and shades of gray. However, the Nook has a compartment in the back to replace the battery and can take up to a 32 Gig SD card. The Nook is much thicker than the Kindle and weighs more. Of course it weighs less than a hardback book and is somewhat thinner.
The Nook includes 2 games - Chess and Sudoku.
Nooks are on display at Wal Mart stores so you can pick one up and try it out. Same with all Barnes and Noble stores and I've even seen them at Books A Million. Target is selling the Kindle. Best Buy has both Nook and Kindle.

A newer Nook just came out for 249.00. The Nook Color has a full color screen. Nice for looking at Magazines and Newspapers and there are some interactive children's books available as well.
If you are very adventurous and want to experiment you can root the Nook Color and make it into an Android Tablet that will run apps and access the Android Market. However there is the possiblity of bricking the Nook Color. Bricking means you have a 250.00 paperweight. So beware.

So, before settling on which you want to spend your hard earned money for, I suggest you go and check them out by holding them in your hand and operating one before you decide to buy.

I am no expert on these devices and within a year I'm sure the present crop will be obsolete as newer and better models are introduced. But, who wants to wait a year. You want an ebook reader now, you want to take it with you on trips.

The thing that bothers me about ebooks and music downloads and all things digital is the there is no PERMANENCE ! A book I can hold in my hand. Put on a shelf and barring flood or fire it exists. But an ebook or downloaded music only exists in a device and when that device malfunctions there is a sense of loss. (I see it with pictures on computers that the hard drive crashes and all the pictures that were so dear are lost and gone for good. It's heartbreaking! Please back up your digital pictures. Put them on something other than your computer because it will CRASH on you. hard drives die and take everything on them with them when they do. I plead with people all the time to back up important data before its too late!).

I mourn the loss of permanence in digital things today. Some people think that when Jesus returns to the earth all electricity will be cut off. Try to imagine a world without electricity. There was no electricity or devices that ran on electricity in Jesus' day. Imagine the world plunged back into darkness without all the motors and wires and all things today that run on electricity. Something to think about.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

eBooks and eBook readers and the death of the PC

I have a smartphone - Motorola A855 (Droid). On my smartphone I have several ebook readers. Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Nobel Nook, Kobo, and Aldiko. On my computer I have all these ebook readers and Calibre (an ebook manager and converter) and Adobe Digital Editions. Like everyone else I've thought of buying a dedicated ebook reader. Most of my ebooks that I have bought are in my Nook reader. A few are on the Kindle reader and one is on Kobo and one on the Adobe Digital Editions reader. Now, if I were to buy an ebook reader, which one would it be? Nook? Kindle? Sony? I'm not sure. Are eBooks and ebook readers any good? I've looked at the reviews and videos of both the Nook and Kindle. Each has specific features. I can see buying an ebook of something that I want to read once, but for reference books I can't see the benefit of the book being in an ebook format (except for search of course). I know the arguments about saving the trees. But to spend 140.00 - 384.00 for a reader then also having to buy the books - does that make economic sense? I know that both Amazon and Barnes and Nobel have many free books and book previews that can be downloaded, and I have previewed a few books then bought the ebook or even the paper book because of the preview. I also know that ebooks are somewhat less expensive than paper books. I am currently reading an ebook that cost 2.99 but the paper book is 19.95. Quite a difference in price. I enjoy going into a bookstore and looking around. I don't really enjoy going to a website and looking at ebooks as much. The browsing experience is quite different. Clicking on a book to read the synopsis then loosing my place in the listing of books is a unnerving experience. I once welcomed the computer age. I have had a computer since the 1980's. I enjoy the diversity that the computer embodies. Once I thought it was ridiculous to watch a movie on a computer. I have a DVD player and TV for that, but now I watch Hulu and catch up on TV show episodes. I enjoy watching TV and Movies on the computer. Some Smartphones have Kickstands so that you can lay the phone on its side and watch a movie on the phone, but in reality battery technology has lagged behind the other components in smartphones, so its not practical to watch a movie on a smartphone unless it is plugged into a charger the whole time. Technical writers are saying the the PC is dead. That people will be using their smartphones for functions that once were the specific realm of the computer, but I don't believe it! My computer as well as my smartphone search the internet, but its a royal pain to use the hyperlinks on a webpage on the phone even with a slide out keyboard. It's much easier to navigate webpages and hyperlinks using my computer. Yes the smartphone runs applications, but its does not have the power or storage capacity of my computer. My smartphone can not play Crysis! And Plants Vs Zombies looks great on my 19 inch monitor - on a small iPhone or DS or PSP screen - not so much! My computer powers my phone through USB. It transfers music and videos to my smartphone and PSP. It converts video formats. There is so much that my computer does that a smartphone or a Tablet cannot do. I think the "death of the PC" quote is hogwash! Sure there are game consoles like XBOX 360 and PS3, but the computer still continues to be the game machine of choice for all lovers of the Keyboard and Mouse. Tablets - like the iPad. What are they? Just larger iTouches and Smartphones. So, back to dedicated ebook readers. Do they have a place or not? For people who are on the go; yes they can be very beneficial. The Kindle has a Text to Speech function where the book can be read to you through earphones which the Nook lacks. America has always been about choice. Yes, we have choices in Smartphones and Tablets and computers. Time will tell which technology will rule out the others. Remember Betamax and VHS? Remember HD DVD and BluRay? Someday we will be talking about iPad and something else with one coming out the Victor. Same with Kindle and Nook and all the other ebook readers. What do you think? Are ebooks a valid replacement for paper books? Are ebook readers worth the expense? Do you think the PC will be DEAD in 2 or 3 years? Technology does move fast. 3D TV's , BluRay players, Smartphones and Tablets give us choices today , but what will tomorrow bring? I like the Best Buy commercial where all the new tech devices are obsolete as soon as they are bought. 3D TV being brought into a house and COMING SOON 4D on the deliver truck. My smartphone has a 500 Mhz CPU. Soon after I bought it the new smartphones had 1 Gig CPU. Now they are producing phones with dual core CPU's, but battery technology is still lagging behind.
I am not down on new technology. I just wish that people would discover the cure for hatred, wars, crime, man's inhumanity to man, neglect and indifference. Technology cannot solve the most basic human need - a new heart. Only Jesus Christ can change the human heart. And in an ever changing world with its fast paced technology and exploding knowledge base its good to know that Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever!