As much as I love to read, turning pages one by one, breaking a new paperback book into a well-weathered memory to trophy in my book case, I realize it is costing some forest, somewhere, a tree.
Although e-books have existed since the 90′s a portable platform designed just for e-books that is truly functional has not been available until recently. I read up on two products out there, Sony Reader, which I liked, and the Amazon Kindle, of which I liked a little better.
The Kindle retails at $399 and in my fair and balanced opinion, it comes the closest to getting all things right for this relatively new medium. It lets you download a mini library of books, magazines, and blogs wirelessly. It can do this from just about anywhere you might find cell phone service, kindle specifically uses the Sprint wireless network to link up. The key feature to the wireless kindle is an integrated high-speed EVDO antenna (similar to the ones found in the 3G phones). This antenna allows users to download a 544-page book in 45 seconds. This rockin’ bonus to this wireless access is that it’s free. However, there is a but, do remember that subscribing to magazines, blogs, and newspapers can cost you.
The unit weighs 10.3 ounces and is smaller than many hardback books. The E-ink display screen does not need constant poser to feed it allowing the battery to last much longer. A full QWERTY keypad can be used to do text searches or insert remarks.
The kindle makes reading as close to the real “paper” experience as possible. The unit contains a 6-inch screen that produces a high-contrast E ink display that will not flicker nor does it use a backlight. This E-ink technology allows you to read for hours without eye strain. The text can be instantly resized for easy reading or those who have adjusted vision requirements.
There are large Next Page/Previous Page buttons on the side of the screen that are convenient but they are so big that you can accidentally bump the buttons and throw yourself off by a page or two. Also, the scroll-wheel-based menu system does take some getting used to.
The Kindle store via Amazon is the supply portal for the e-books, complete with some 90,000-plus available titles. The supply proves to be both plentiful and cheap, with best sellers going for $9.99, and many e-books out there are free or mere pennies compared to the paper copy. It holds over 200 titles at once and it has a very long battery life. According to Amazon, leave wireless on and recharge approximately every other day or turn wireless off and read for a week or more before recharging. The unit fully recharges in 2 hours.
After spending $399 it can be a major disappointment not to find a title you are searching for. Although it is costly to get into and it still costs more than it should for simple e-books in my opinion, this alternative allows you to store many novels and periodicals and helps save the planet one e-book at a time.