One of the most sought after electronic devices in the past year was the eBook reader. Certainly tablets have come along that offer the ability to enjoy ebooks wherever you go, but a dedicated eBook reader is more affordable and in many cases, better suited to the task. Choosing the right e-reader can be a chore, with the options available continuing to grow every month.
There are many things to consider of course, but one of the first questions is about the screen itself. Afterall, reading is certainly a very visual task and having a good screen is critical. Unfortunately, someone can't honestly tell you which screen is best, it really depends on a number of factors. Here are some things to think about when you're evaluating these devices:
1. Screen Size
The right size screen will depend upon your priorities. If you want something that is ultimately portable, then a pocket e-reader with a 5-7 inch screen is probably worth considering. On the other hand, if you want the largest viewing area, there are 9-10 inch screens available. The Amazon Kindle DX for instance has a 9.7" screen. Clearly these devices can't easily be carried in a pocket. But, if your vision is poor or you just prefer to see more text on the page, the large screen is important.
Not all eBook reader screens are created equal in their resolution. Higher resolution will give you crisper lines, text, and so forth. The iRiver Story HD will be released in 2011 and is said to have a resolution of 768 x 1,024, the highest to-date. High resolution will also translate into nicer looking images for those who also use their ereader as a photo viewer.
3. Screen Type
Current eBook readers offer either an LCD display or the e-Ink display. LCD displays offer color and backlighting which eliminates the need for an external light when in low light conditions. e-Ink displays on the other hand are easier on the eyes, help to reduce eye strain, and are significantly easier to read in daylight.
If you choose an LCD display, it is best if you have the option of dimming the light. If you choose an e-Ink display, you can purchase an inexpensive booklight for night time reading. Of the two, the e-Ink display will consume less battery power, allowing you to read longer without having to charge up.
Another consideration is the fact that color e-Ink displays are on their way. Hanvon will be rolling out the first one in 2011.
Good contrast makes reading much easier. The reason so many clocks are white, with black numerals isn't because clock makers have no taste, it's because their clocks are easier to read.
5. Font Size
Most eBook readers will allow you to adjust the font type and size. Check out this feature on the eBook reader you choose. The ability to find the right font and size can allow you to forgo the largest screen if that isn't a major factor.
Many of the current crop of eBook readers offer only a black and white display. The Barnes and Noble Nook is a noteable exception as are a handful of others. But, more and more we will be seeing color as an option among these screens. It's likely this will increase the price. So, a user will need to decide if a color ebook reader is what they need. Color can certainly be important when viewing color photos, photo heavy periodicals, color diagrams, children's books, and so forth.
Your decision as to which screen will best suit your needs shouldn't be too difficult. Readability is influenced by size, contrast, resolution, and font, while the screen type you want may depend upon where, when, and how long you'll be reading. For color, your choices will be expanding soon and it will become a decision about what types of material you'll be reading and how much you want to spend.