Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Backlit LCD vs. E Ink, which is better?

Consider this part 2 of my ebook reader review. I have a friend who is still torn between an LCD reader and an E Ink one so I decided to write this follow-up to my previous review.

The big question is, which one is better? There's no straight answer to this, unfortunately. Whether one or the other is better depends on what you need it for.

I have listed down several questions that helped me decide which one to buy. If you were as confused as I was a few months ago, try to answer these questions. It should help you decide what's best.

Question #1: Why am I buying this?
Do I need it to surf the net, or update my status in all my social network sites? Uhm, no. I had a laptop for that as well as my trusty old iPhone. When I'm at home or out with my friends, I don't even look at my cellphones, let alone post Tweets. I needed a book reader, plain and simple.

Question #2: How light is the gadget?
One reason why I never even thought of wanting the iPad is its size and weight. It might look cool but it's simply too big for my purpose. I needed a gadget that is small and compact and the iPad is definitely NOT that. Even the B&N Nook Color is a bit too big for me. I read in bed so having to hold up 1.5 lbs as I try to read is not my idea of relaxation. I wanted something that I can carry on long flights or out of town trips without breaking my back with its weight.

Question #3: Do I really need to read in color?
My answer is no. I literally have hundreds of books and very few of them are picture books. The picture books that I do have, and I'm particularly proud of this, are from my collection of children's books. Frankly, if you're interested in the type, I highly recommend actually buying the children's books. They don't really make great ebook material. I don't read comic books or magazines either. So that means, whether I'm reading a hardcover book, trade paperback or just a mass market one, I'm used to reading in black and white.

Question #4: Can my eyes stand staring at it for hours on end?
I'm going to give you a 'for instance.' My primary reason for choosing E Ink is the length of time I will use it every day. I've already mentioned in my previous blog that I am a heavy reader. On regular days when I'm working, I read for about 2 - 3 hours before I go to sleep. On weekends that number gets doubled. I could read up to 16 hours in one go if I really like the book. It's not unusual for me to finish reading 2 books a night, from cover to cover.

All these questions made me realize what I needed. I might have been tempted with the look of the Nook Color but it doesn't really suit my purpose. All the extras are just fluff since I already have other gadgets that can do everything that a tablet can do. E Ink was the best fit for me.

...so I bought the Nook and I've been happily reading ever since.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Barnes & Noble Nook vs. Amazon Kindle

I'm a gadget girl. I'm totally obsessed with anything and everything electronic. If something has a charger or a USB interface, I'd certainly lust after it. Add a touch screen and I'm in 7th heaven!

I never thought I'd be this in love with gadgets. I never even had a cellphone until my 3rd year in college. I was an artist and I used to love creating with my hands more than relying on electronic devices. Case in point, I submitted my freshman Com 2 term paper, typewritten. I knew how to use Microsoft Office by then but I preferred the feel of a typewriter. You get what I mean?

Anyway, enough with the introduction. I've decided to document my ongoing love fest with electronics to help people. I will start blogging about my gadgets. Nice, right?

I'm starting with eBook readers. There are a lot of eBook readers around so I had to shop around before buying mine. I looked at all the readers and scrutinized their features for weeks before settling on my top 2: the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

Nook vs. Kindle

Since I read at least 3 hours a day during workdays and about 5-6 hours on weekends, I needed a reader that's forgiving on the eyes. A full-color backlit touchscreen LCD might look ├╝ber cool but try reading for 3 straight hours and you'll end up with a massive headache. That's the reason why I never wanted the iPad. What I needed was an E Ink reader.

I actually bought the Kindle but decided to return it because I realized that the Nook was a much better fit for me and here's why.

The Kindle had a lot of wonderful features. It's the most affordable reader at $139. It's also the lightest ebook reader with the longest battery life. It can actually last for a whole month on a single charge! That's heaven for a heavy reader like me.

What made me decide on a Nook, however, was all the 'what ifs.' First example, the expandable memory. While Kindle has the higher internal memory, it is not expandable. The Nook is expandable up to 16 GB. This could turn out to be a useless feature seeing as a book in normal EPUB format is less than 1 MB. I haven't even used 10% of my Nook's 2 GB internal memory. Now, I might end up not even needing 16 GB of memory but it's good to know I can expand it if I needed to.

Another feature than sold me on the Nook is the replaceable battery. As most of us gadget savvy people know, a rechargeable battery will only last for 500 - 1000 charges. The Kindle's battery is not replaceable. If the battery runs out, we have to send it back to Amazon to have the internal battery replaced. The Nook has a detachable battery so I can just buy a replacement battery when the old one has run through its cycle and replace it myself. I'm sure I'd have moved on to an upgrade by then but it's good to know this is an option.

Of course, this could turn out to be another non-issue because the Kindle lasts one month on a single cycle compared to the Nook's 10 days, so if we're being conservative and base the battery life on just 500 cycles, the Kindle's internal battery could last 42 years whereas the Nook's battery will only last 14 years.

So why the Nook, you might ask? First of all, it reads a wider range of ebook formats like EPUB, PDB & PDF. Other book formats are also easily convertible to EPUB via a free software called Calibre. It also reads graphics formats like JPG, GIF, PNG & BMP. The Kindle only reads the Amazon proprietary ebook format AZW, MOBI & PDF (I must note that unconverted PDF files don't look great on either reader). For all other formats, you have to send the file to Amazon and they will convert it to AZW for free. This could turn out to be a hassle though, especially if you need to send them 500 books to convert.

Now here's the clincher. I didn't really choose the Nook over the Kindle because of it's great features because if I were being very honest, I could go either way. The best part about my Nook is, it looks so cool with its LCD touchscreen display!

If you're still undecided, here are the side-by-side specs to help you out:

I hope this helps you confused people out there. Please post comments or send me a personal message if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.