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eBook Readers - what types, how to choose

People who are not familiar with e-books tend to underestimate them- there is a smartphone, you can also read books from it. The phone has a color screen, and it is at hand all the time - so why else do you need an e-book? If the matter is in the size of the screen, then it is better to buy a tablet.
But those who think so do not understand that it is pointless to compare an e-book with a smartphone. A tablet and a smartphone are devices of a completely different class, close in functions and capabilities to personal computers. And an e-book is ... a book. She can lie on the shelf for months, practically without losing a charge and the harm to her eyes from her screen is no more than from an ordinary printed book. The basis of this difference is that e-books use E-Ink technology - "electronic ink".
If you spend an hour or more reading every day, then an e-book is a must for you. Compared to tablets and smartphones, e-readers are much less eye-straining. And compared to paper books, electronic books are much more economical - most of the masterpieces of literature have long been digitized and are available on the Internet for free. The price of an e-book is comparable to the price of a dozen or so paper books, and more than one hundred of them will fit into the memory of even the most budgetary reader.
All that remains is to spend a little time and understand the parameters of modern e-books. How do they differ, and how their characteristics affect their convenience, capabilities and price.


E-Ink Screen Design

The vast majority of screens for modern e-books are made using E-Ink technology - "electronic ink". A screen made using this technology consists of capsules containing many microscopic black and white balls.
The peculiarities of such screens are that they do not require electricity to maintain the image, and that the contrast in them is created by reflected light. Thanks to the first feature, e-books keep a charge for weeks even with active use, and the second feature allows you to maintain the contrast and readability of the text under the bright sun and significantly reduces the burden on eyesight.
The main disadvantages of the technology are a long response time (on the order of tenths of a second) and traces on the screen when redrawing individual characters - when the charge of the substrate pixels changes, not all colored balls change their position.

Characteristics of e-books

Screen diagonal

This is the parameter that most of all affects the price of the device. The larger the diagonal, the higher the price of the reader.
Most e-books have a diagonal of 6 "(the size of a pocket paper book). Today this format can be considered optimal - small dimensions allow you to freely operate the device with one hand and carry it in your pocket, and the screen size is sufficient for comfortable reading.
But if you prefer large print and read quickly, it is better to choose among the larger screens - 8 "or 10"(the size of a regular paper book). The fact is that the smoothness and speed of screen redrawing on the "reader"is several times lower than on tablets and smartphones. On some e-books, it may take more than a second to “flip” a page, just like on a paper book. On a small screen, you will have to “flip” more often.
The largest screens of readers have a diagonal of up to 13", but using such - especially in cramped conditions - will no longer be very convenient, and the price for such device is much higher.

Screen resolution

This parameter determines the clarity of the letters and the absence of visible "teeth"on them.
The technology for producing e-book screens differs from that used in tablet screens - at the same resolution, the image on the screen of an e-book will look sharper.

Screens of e-reader and tabletScreens of e-reader and tablet with the same resolution at 26x magnification

But the requirements for the image quality on the screen of an e-book are higher, therefore, the comfortable value of the pixel density (the number of pixels per inch of the screen) in e-books is even slightly higher than that of tablets - about 170. However, this density is provided by the most budget models of e-books with 800x600 resolution - even on the cheapest "reader"the image will be clearer than on a tablet of a comparable class.
The screens of expensive e-books provide unbelievable clarity and pixel density of up to 300 ppi for other gadgets - to see the "teeth"on such a screen, you will have to use a magnifying glass.

Generations of E-Ink Display

The first generation of E-Ink Vizplex displays had a pixel density of 166 ppi at a resolution of 800x600 and a rather low contrast ratio (7:1). But progress does not stand still, e-books with displays of the first generation are practically not on sale today, and the term E-Ink combines several similar technologies:

Built-in memory

The parameter determines how many books can be stored on the device itself. The built-in memory of 4 GB will provide storage for about 3000 books of 200-300 pages with 1-2 illustrations.
The amount of built-in memory significantly affects the price of the device, so it makes sense to pay attention to the memory card slot. If it is available, you can not overpay for the built-in memory of the device, but organize the storage of the library on removable cards. Having chosen this option, before purchasing the card, check the maximum size of the memory card supported by the device.

Operating system

The readers presented on sale today operate under the control of one of two systems - Android or Linux.

Many e-books running this system allow the installation of third-party programs for Android. On such a device, you can change the standard program for viewing texts, install programs for viewing specialized graphic formats, spreadsheets, etc. This expands the capabilities of an e-book, bringing it closer in functionality to tablets, especially if the book has a touch screen. However, not every program for Android will run on an e-book, and not every launched one will have full functionality - nevertheless, the capabilities of e-readers and tablets are very different.
The frequently encountered statement that "readers"with Android work much less without charging is only partly true and this dependence is much less noticeable than on smartphones or tablets. Other parameters - features of standard programs, backlight and auto-off settings, additional installed programs and the presence of a touch screen affect the operating time much more strongly.

For e-books, adapted Linux assemblies are used, devoid of many libraries included in the desktop versions of this system. Therefore, the usual linux programs on e-books will most likely not run. Although there are third-party linux developments specifically for e-books, their number is orders of magnitude less than programs for Android. Therefore, when choosing a reader running Linux, you should pay the most careful attention to the convenience and functionality of standard programs - most likely, you will not be able to replace them.
The main advantage of Linux is that it has less hardware requirements, and e-books under its control are usually cheaper. For this reason, Linux was more common in e-books in the past. But the drop in prices for microprocessors and the increase in their performance have practically leveled this difference, so there are already more "readers"on Android today than on Linux.


Its presence simplifies device management and increases the functionality of readers running Android.
But we must not forget that the touch screen increases power consumption. "Reader"without a touch screen consumes energy only when turning pages and the open page can theoretically display forever. And the touch screen will consume energy even with a static image, which will shorten the operating time.
Unlike tablets and smartphones, e-book screens do not light up, so you won't be able to read from them in low light. The built-in backlight will allow you to use the e-book in complete darkness, but it should be borne in mind that the quality of the backlight differs from model to model and is often far from ideal.

Other options

Wi-Fi support for the e-book allows the device to access the Internet and replenish the library directly from network resources. This feature is especially important if you don't have a computer or laptop. The main thing is not to forget to turn off WiFi after downloading books, otherwise the operating time of the reader will be reduced significantly.
If the e-book does not have a case in the kit, you should be concerned about buying it first. Screens of e-books (with the exception of E-Ink Mobius) are much more afraid of mechanical damage than screens of the same tablets. Without the protection provided by the thick cover of the case, the lifespan of the screen can be very short. However, do not think that buying a cover will completely protect the screen of the reader - the cover cannot protect it from strong overloads and shocks (associated, for example, with a fall of the gadget).
The presence of an audio player means not only the ability to listen to music recorded on the device's memory - it will allow you to run third-party software on the reader, which requires an audio processor. The sound on such devices is usually not of high quality, but it expands the functionality in the sense that it allows you to listen to audio books.

Choice options

e-readersOn a limited budget, you can buy a 6"e-reader with a resolution of 800x600 - even with the lowest resolution, an e-reader will provide clarity on the level of the best tablets.
If you do not have a computer or other devices with which you can download books from the Internet, choose among models with Wi-Fi support - this will allow you to download books directly from online libraries.
If you need an e-reader with enhanced functionality and the ability to install additional applications, choose among devices with a touch screen running Android.
If you often read in low light, consider having a built-in backlight on your device.
If you are worried about the safety of the screen from mechanical damage, choose a model with a case included.
If the standard 6 "screen is not comfortable for you, choose among e-books with large screens.
If you want the text on the reader's screen to have no less clarity and contrast than the text on a sheet of paper, choose among devices with the screen generation E-Ink Carta Plus.
If you want the device to allow not only reading books, but also listening to audio books or music, choose among e-books with an audio player.
If you have a really large library of books in digital form - more than 8 GB - and you want to transfer it to the memory of the reader, you will need an e-book with a large amount of memory.