Recently, I bought a Kobo. That is when the trouble began…
eReaders are simple devices that are made for simply reading PDFs, Mobi (Amazon Kindle format), and ePubs. The readers feature an electronic paper display which is truly just a high-resolution grid that can hold a pixel without electricity. This feature contributes to the long battery life of the displays, but the display type is currently lacking colour options and has a slow refresh rate. The current race is on to provide colour to consumers.
The eReader also distinguishes itself from the typical tablet due to the nature of light reflection on the screen. Since light reflection on the ereader is similar to that of paper, it is more comfortable for the user.
Tablets are the next biggest competition for an e-reader. Tablets provide the benefit of colour but do not have the battery life, or display comfort for long time use. Despite a tablets’ ability to do more, specialized reading devices offer the advantage of having a dedicated interface, settings, platform, and memory for the storage of books. Companies also prominently feature the specialization or single-use of the device to sell it as a `distraction-free’ read.
eReaders are a unique design opportunity, a specialized device with specialized hardware for a single activity. Despite the hardware advantages, ereaders have a way to go with the software. Disappointingly, companies care more about the sale of books than the design of the product on which to read them. As a result, the homepage for these devices is often a conglomeration of purchased books and books for sale.
Additionally, PDFs from the web or written by the user do not sort well into the books purchased through the device manufacturer. Also, despite the fact that the technology exists to do so, the ereader software does not pull publishing information from PDFs. Consequently, one can not organize their library as effectively despite given tools like Kobo’s Collections functionality; therefore there is less opportunity for a `work’ and a `play’ mode.
Furthermore, a majority of the devices lack privacy and have inherent security risks. Collections cannot be hidden. Also, aside from the Kindle, the device is not password protected and sensitive documentation or papers underway cannot be safely loaded onto the device.
Lastly, the formatting of books must immediately match the purchased content, we see a problem with the content display, and more importantly navigation. For example, two format columns are not handled well with the constant need for screen refresh leaving annoying ghosted images. With the focus placed on being placed on buying the company content, it is unlikely that this problem is high on the roster.
Many of the readers, Kobo and Kindle especially, advertise their read anywhere on any device extension applications (Desktop, Android, iPhone, etc.). Interestingly, the designers take few advantages of cross-platform but do not favour the strengths of the devices. Kobo is especially guilty of this, For example, the design decision was made to allow purchase capacity on the mobile website but not the app. At least they get my bookmark right …
I am sure you were wondering when I would get to this. Those of you who know me well, know about my love for open source. I am a huge supporter of FREE LITERATURE. The only problem is with Free literature, the ability to self-publish on sites like Kobo, we find a lack of quality control. Hence, ereader = ejunkfood GALORE. However, a lot of authors may choose to provide samples, there’s that. Additionally, if you are willing to put up with downright awful Adobe digital rights management software you also have the benefit of your local library on your device.
Although there’s a lot to dislike, there’s also a lot to love about ereaders.
Disclaimer: Was not paid for this review, although I am an early/community reviewer on Librarythings