So for a techno-geek, I guess I am a little behind the times for not having an e-reader. I still read the "old fashion" way, with book in hand. I never really did get away from print books. I have never used an audio book. However, I love gadgets, and love reading, so I had to at least check out the various e-readers available to consumers currently. Now this is not going to be a in-depth review of all the e-readers out there, I don't have the time for that. This is more of an introduction as to what is currently available. If you are looking for in-depth reviews, there are many great technology sites out there. I always start with http://www.cnet.com/.
Both the Digital Reader from Sony and the Amazon Kindle (photo above) use e ink technology. E ink technology is designed to mimic actual ink on paper (Barnes and Nobel offers a similar reader known as The Nook). The E ink technology allows users to read in bright sun light (something difficult to accomplish on back-lit devices). The Kindle is nice in that it has built in cellular ability to download new titles (only cost is the cost of the items you are buying). No computer is needed to purchase reading materials. You can add new titles to your device in about sixty seconds from anywhere you would use a cell phone. Many of my family members swear by the Kindle (full disclosure #1, my sister is a big shot at Amazon Corporate). I have never handled a Kindle, but one of my students did let me try out her Sony Reader. The screen is very easy on the eyes (unlike reading from a computer screen). Although, there is no color, which can be a little dull.
Of course much of the recent buzz has been over the Apple iPad (photo above). Unlike the Digital Reader from Sony and the Amazon Kindle, the iPad is a back-lit device. It is touch-screen operated and has full color display. The iPad is also much more than an e-reader. With an iPad a user can surf the web, listen to music, play games, browse through their photos, watch movies and use various applications (apps) available through Apple's iTunes store. The iPad can also be used as an e-reader. As a matter of fact, Amazon has a Kindle application that can be used on the iPad (and iPhone for that matter).
I did play with the iPad a little the last time I was at Best Buy (my daughter loved The Simpson's Game). It seemed a little heavy to be holding as a reader (although I have held textbooks that were much heavier during my undergraduate days). It also would be tough to read in direct sunlight. However, I must admit, the interface is amazing. Users actually flip the pages by sliding their finger across the screen. Images appear in full color. (Full disclosure #2, I'm an Apple Dork, I love my iPhone and my MacBook Pro).
I have been comparing each of the devices over the past two months (something I normally do when debating about making a big purchase). The iPad is much more expensive, but it also does quite a bit more. I'm not really sure if I will end up buying any e-reader at all. As a matter of fact, I just picked up a paperback from Amazon.com the other day. There is nothing like lying in bed with that paperback in your hand as you drift off to sleep. What I am curious to see is, if e-readers eventually put an end to the hard copy textbook industry that makes a fortune from public schools across the country. Are any of you e-reader users? Any iPad users out there? How about a little of both e-reader and good old fashion books?