E-book Readers

| Author: | Posted in Computers, Networking

Unless you’ve been on a vacation from life, you have to have noticed that everywhere you turn, there is one kind of publication or another that’s blue in the face trumpeting Amazon’s new version of its Kindle ebook readers, and what is supposed to be Kindle killer, Apple’s iPad tablet computer.

Of course, the iPad is slick, powerful and affordable as all things Apple are, and it conceivably will overtake the Kindle as the e-book reader of the future. But the drumbeat on for these two can drown out a whole lot more that’s going on in the market in devices that can be used as ebook readers, on top of a lot of other things. Ever heard of the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid, the Que proReader or the Alex? Netbooks from a dozen different manufacturers took off a couple of years ago when the Asus EeePC showed what was possible with a tiny processor, no drive of any kind and a tiny screen. The iPad today, similarly, inspires all these new devices, all-touchscreen tablet computers that will let you do what the netbook does.

And while all the netbooks were more or less copycat devices, you can’t say the same about these tablets. They all address different needs in very imaginative ways. Some of them are made for the Internet, and to watch YouTube videos on, some will let you use them as ebook readers, promising little strain on the eyes, and special extended battery life. And best of all, none of them require that you lug around the weight of an entire laptop, keyboard and all. About 20% of the world is wired for the Internet, and they are all apparently hopped up on social networking and ebook reading. They can do this on the computer, and they do; but social networking and reading are best done with a thin, light, fuss-free device that can travel. Laptops are suitable, but nowhere near what the touch tablets let you do.

The netbook was a lightweight device, that didn’t expect to do much work. For that, the Intel Atom processor, a repackaged Celeron, did just fine. The tablet needs something even more lightweight, and it uses, basically, the ARM processor, that you find in many smartphones. Take the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid. It is a regular laptop, if you want it that way; when you need a tablet, you just take the screen off, and there you have your slick little touchscreen tablet to carry away. The Que proReader is an ultrathin device with a large 10.7 inch screen that tries to replace a business man’s briefcase full of paper and e-document readers rather than ebook readers. The venerable EeePC in this department, has a device that has two screens, and opens like a book; a novelty by any measure. But, Sometimes, people don’t like multifunction devices, no matter how cool they are.

Will the dedicated ebook readers like Kindle succeed, or will the general-purpose tablet computers like the iPad succeed? The iPad is cheap too, and can do a lot more than just display books. But who can tell? Which will be the eBook Readers People Choose?

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