Saturday, March 05, 2011

Kindle or Nook? Or both.

Last Xmas I gave my wife a Kindle (the Wi-Fi only kind).  No set up, just turn on and nice-looking black text on off-white background appears.  I was never very interested in e-readers, but was I wrong.  It is really relaxing to read on them and wonderfully convenient to hold a small device instead of a hardcover tomb.  Having access to several books at any one time is also nice.  My strong interest in the device did not please the original recipient, so I had to let go of her gift.  Unfair.

I had been looking at Kindle and Nook, so decided to get a nook (Wi-Fi only) for myself.  Now I can compare these two mainstream e-readers.  There are differences, but both are perfectly fine book readers.  The kindle appear a touch brighter (contrasty), although this is not really visible in normal light conditions.  Page turning is about as fast for both, after the 1.5 Nook software upgrade (came soon after I first connected with BN’s nook site).  The differences are under the hood and in the supporting interface.  The Kindle has a button keyboard for notes, and apps that are reached through a basic pop-up window.  The immediate advantage is a battery life that is vastly better than Nook’s.  The Nook offers a more stylish color touchscreen bar that offers a much nicer experience, but demands more electrons.  I found that the Kindle lasts ~3 weeks with normal use and the Nook ~1 week on a battery charge.  Quite different, reflecting the Nook interface that turns on and off like a phone screen.  I prefer the Nook’s navigation bar, but the battery life makes the Kindle more portable and less distracting; Kindle is my wife’s preference.
The readers both have apps that are useful and fun.  Each has a basic web browser that is hard to navigate, but allows internet access.  No Flash, video and such, but basic mobile sites work well.  You can install games on both.  I bought Sudoku for the Kindle, which came free with the Nook.  Works pretty well on both, but uses more battery on Nook because of the navigation bar (doubling as keyboard).

So, which one is better?  It really does not matter if you just want to read a book or paper.  The battery life of Kindle is best and it has a slight edge with brightness.  The amazon format of books, however, is limiting.  No epub and pdf format and thus no public library downloads.  I have Calibre which takes care of file conversions, so the format issue between units is resolved.  The download of papers and magazines from Calibre, by the way, is a great feature that even allows emailing your Kindle for a small fee (the Nook and Kindle are otherwise attached to the PC for uploading).  Calibre is worth the shareware donation.

My wife and I each read 3 books and have turned to reading more than in recent past.  I do not miss the book, other than its tactile aspect, because I never randomly page through a novel.  It does not replace web browsing by any stretch and reading the paper is only ok for full articles.  Some friends have turned to iPad and Galaxies as their readers, but a backlit screen cannot compete with e-ink when it comes to eye strain.  Having a dedicated reader also removes the distractions a portable computer has, such as email, text pop-ups.

I am an e-reader convert.

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