Sunday, June 20, 2010

Comparing Kindle and the E-Readers:Choosing One for Each Personality and Lifestyle


So far, more than a dozen people have written in to this new blog, HotGiftsforCoolGiving, asking what I think of the Kindle, the Sony E-Reader, or wanting to know if any of the E-Readers would help their vision-impaired loved one.  A few of these folks want the E-Reader delivered in time for Father's Day, others don't care as long as they get the best product to meet their needs. Here's an email from one adult daughter who, while sharing her father's love of real printed books, knows he needs one of these new electronic wonders to keep the door to his beloved world of books open to him:

Dear LilacGal,

I can see that you understand the needs of Seniors, with your background in elder care.  My father, who lives in an Independent Living complex, has always been an avid reader, but he's losing touch with this whole world of pleasure because he can't see well enough to read anymore, even with some of the large print books. He says he doesn't want anything but the "real books" he loves, but I've read about the new eReaders that have adjustable-size print and some that even read to you,  learned about the Carson ezRead Digital Reader from your first post, and I think my father will be glad to get back to his world of words, if only he can see them in VERY large print.  (He doesn't need the text read to him now, although he may if his vision gets worse.) My problem is, there are so many products out there!  Which would be best for my Dad?  Susan in NH

I understand where this father's coming from - there's something downright sensuous about a book. It's easy to love the elegant leather bound, gilt-edged classic; the little dog-eared volume that you carry around like a small touchstone, the luxurious spread of a lavish, color-splashed coffee table book, left invitingly open - and oh, the mysteriously attractive smell of the print!  BUT...a book can't read aloud to you, (at least in the literal sense); it can't help you order another book, or retrieve one from your home library while you're lounging on the beach or stuck in the airport; it can't surf the Web, or let you look up terms in a dictionary, or search and find bookmarked information if you're studying, and it most definitely can't magnify it's own print for you, for ease of viewing or if you have problems with your vision.  So the best way I can help this father, and the others who have written in, is to compare all these new hi-tech ways of reading, so people can decide what's the best of these Hot Gifts for their loved one, or for themselves, based on their personalities, lifestyles and needs. I'll compare eReaders in today's post, and post a comparison of hand-held devices that magnify a page onto a TV screen or monitor, (like the Carson ezRead Susan mentioned in her email, above) in my next post.

I've picked 7 E-Readers (the top ones currently on the market that I think are most helpful for people's individual needs) to compare. Here's my chart where you can see, side by side, the standout features of each of these E-Readers, decide if they meet various personal requirements, and get the facts about their size and weight, font size, battery life, connectivity and cost (click to enlarge):

All those facts may at first look like a jumble, but here's how to use this E-Reader Comparison Chart to be sure you've picked the right gift for your loved one, no matter what the person's age, gender or likes/needs:

The Hot Gifts:

Why you'd give (or buy) the Kindle Wireless Reading Device (latest generation after Kindle 2):

The person you're giving to wants to be able to download e-books from Amazon's huge 600,000+ titles library wirelessly from wherever he happens to be, and be able to store 2 GB (up to 1500 e-books). He likes hi tech gadgets, wants MP3 playback, appreciates the Kindle's light weight and slim profile, the "Next" button page turner, physical keyboard and joystick navigation, the Dictionary and built in PDF Reader. Whether he has vision problems or not, he really appreciates the clear 6 inch E-Ink screen text with 16 shades of gray, Zoom for small print, font sizes up to equivalent of 20 pt. font in MS Word, and he can think of good uses for the hands-free text-to-speech feature.  He likes to read outdoors, so he needs the Kindle's ability to be read in sunlight. You are happy with the relatively low price ($189) and free 2 day shipping at

Why you'd give the Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device:

 In addition to enjoying all the great features of the Kindle above, the recipient of this Kindle DX gift will love the bigger (9.7") screen of this Kindle version, appreciate being able to hold it vertically or horizontally, and because the DX has bigger font than the regular Kindle version plus the 40% larger screen and crisp E-Ink display, she or he will be happy to get back to more comfortable reading, if small print has become a problem. If a music lover, he/she will be pleased with the high quality sound of stereo speakers. With 4 GB of storage, the avid reader will be able to collect a personal library of 2400 to 3600 e-books.  If vision is the main issue, the higher cost of this Kindle version will be well justified: With the DX, your loved one will be able to read more clearly now due to the larger screen, fonts and Zoom feature, and then be able to continue to enjoy his or her reading even if vision worsens in the future, by making use of the text-to-speech feature.

Who's the right person for the gift of a Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600? 
If money's tight and you want to bestow a full-featured, name brand E-Reader on your best friend or family member, the Sony Touch Edition fills the bill with a bit of extra hi tech class (the touch screen and a stylus for handwritten notes and drawings) thrown in. It's stylish (comes in red and silver as well as black), has an MP3 music player, supports Adobe ePub so your friend doesn't have to buy books only from Sony's online bookstore, and it boasts the expected 6" screen with sharp E-ink display. It even  has 5 font sizes, from small to "extra-extra large" (which isn't as large as the largest font in the Kindles, however). But you'll see from the E-Reader Comparison Chart above that there's a price to be paid for saving 50 bucks over the Kindle: The Sony is a bit heavier, requires using a PC to add content and to recharge the internal battery, the screen has only 8 shades of gray, and the storage is only 512 MB.  Good deal at, though, at $198.47 with free shipping, as the price climbs to $249.99 or more at some of the other sites and stores.

Apple iPad MB292LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi)Do you have anyone on your List whose eyes glaze over when they see an ad for the latest blackberry or iPhone? Apple's iPad is the gift for him. Great for reading digital e-books in sharp, rich color, Apple's iPad now comes with 3D as well as Wi-Fi, and is easy to read in low light. Your Techno Geek will love having the thousands of apps (such as The Weather Channel, Wall St. Journal, Epicurious, Popular Science, all made for iPad) at his fingertips, plus access to his email, photos, movies! The 9.7" multi-touch screen is LED backlit, there is a pinch Zoom and choice of fonts and font sizes, and although the battery life is only 10 hours (over one month on standby), the iPad is available with a choice of 16 to 64 GB of flash storage. Prices begin at $499 for the 16 GB, and if money is no object, you can get the 64 GB for $699, with 3G Wireless added on for a mere $130. For the right person, that's some gift!

In this video comparison of the Kindle and the Apple iPad, from Consumer Reports, called "E-Reader Faceoff: Apple iPad vs Amazon Kindle", you'll see that despite the big difference in prices and functions, the Kindle holds its own, and even excels over the iPad in the visual e-book reading experience . 

Who would be the right person for the gift of a Barnes and Noble Nook E-book Reader?
Probably she or he would be someone who loves to hang out in B&N, who'd be delighted to take advantage of the Bookstore's offer to let Version 1.3 Nook users read selected books inside their store for an hour a day, as well as download free content through their "More in Store" program. The lure of Barnes & Noble's vast store, its million books including 500,000 free titles, newspapers, magazines, etc., would be enough to keep this bibliophile thoroughly loyal to her black and white Nook E-Reader with its 6" crisp E-ink display screen, 16 shades of gray and 3.5" color touch screen at the bottom. She'd appreciate that the Nook also has physical buttons and an onscreen keyboard, AT&T 3G, Wi-Fi and USB. You would be pleased that the price, $254.95 through Amazon and comparable to the Amazon Kindle, lets you give a B&N lover an E-Reader that fits right in with her enjoyment of her favorite Bookstore.

The Interead Cool-ER: An affordable E-Reader, (with  a price comparable to the Amazon Kindle), this is the gift for an on-the-go student who needs a cool looking but very lightweight (6.3 oz), easy to carry, durable E-Reader. Your student will be glad there is ePub support for commercial titles, appreciate the close to a dozen file formats like PDF, and enjoy the MP3 and the many font options. The 6" screen has the E-ink display, the device uses a 4-d pad and buttons, and the price runs around $249.  The student will enjoy collecting some of the many useful and attractive accessories for this E-Reader, such as case covers and stands.

My last pick for this E-Reader comparison is actually a Pro-Reader created for business professionals, the Plastic Logic Que. It would make a very special gift for a college grad going into business. Your graduate will view all his or her documents on a 10.7" E-Ink screen, the largest touch screen on an E-Reader to date. This is actually a Barnes & Noble device which accesses their million books through their Que Store. Dimensions are 8.5" x 11" x. 0.3", with good storage that lasts days, not hours. The device connects via AT&T 3G, USB, Wi-Fi and bluetooth. The business professional will appreciate that it is supported by PDF, Excel, Word, and has MP3 Audio playback.  Because of the very large screen and many font sizes, this Pro-Reader is also a good choice for someone with vision impairment. The price is a bit steep, however, starting at $649, or $799.99 for the 8 GB with 3G version.

The Cool Giving:

Getting back to Susan in NH and her search to find the best E-Reader that would help her father continue to enjoy his reading: Susan chose the Kindle DX, which offers not only the large E-Ink screen with very large font sizes, but also features text-to-speech capability in case her father needs that in the future. She felt that these features, which will help her father go on reading and enjoying his "world of words", were well worth the $489.

Susan was determined to do more for her father than simply show up with the gift, so she contacted the activities professional in her father's independent living complex.  We all came up with the idea of inviting an interesting lecturer from their local Library to present a talk on the History of Books to all the residents on her father's floor, followed by a "show & tell" about the new world of e-books and E-Readers such as her father's new Kindle DX.  When the Library put out a call for local citizens to loan any very old books they might have for the discussion,  they were amazed to hear from several townspeople who will bring truly valuable and historic books about events in the local area, as well as religious books, going back to the 1700's.  Susan's father is looking forward to this gathering, and has met some new friends who are organizing the temporary display of the loaned books. Susan emailed that she thinks all the sharing that has come about as a result of this project has "put the giving back in the gift". 


No comments: