Will the Real eBook Reader Please Stand Up?
If you’re still reading paperbacks on paper, it’s time to wake up and smell the technology! It’s the age of the e-book and e-book readers have never been more popular. The two eBook readers currently topping the charts are Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad.
First to hit the e-reader market, Amazon’s Kindle is doing well for itself despite tough competition. This lightweight reader (289 gm) is a good buy if you like travelling with a bookshelf. Reading the latest Dan Brown thriller while lazing on a hammock by the sea, couldn’t be easier with the Kindle’s 6 inch, greyscale display screen, immune to light reflections. However, if you are looking for a bit of jazz, pick the Amazon-challenger, iPad. Its full colour, 9.7 inch touch screen with ambient light sensor makes reading newsletters or browsing the Web a delight. The Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity systems make downloading books from the iBookstore a “60-second” miracle.
Kindle, with its 3G capability, is not to be outdone. You are spoilt for choice with up to 540,000 titles available for download from the Kindle store. The content is restricted to the Digital Rights Management format. (Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is an access control system that protects and controls how content is distributed and used online.) Kindle eBooks can also be viewed on a Windows or Mac laptop or PC, unlike iPad eBooks which have no portability – they cannot be viewed even on other Apple devices. All content is chargeable in US dollars, which seems to bite a bit when you realise there is hardly any South African content available.
Such problems should not worry you though, since Apple has not confirmed a release date for its iPad in South Africa just yet. It is slated to be priced at R5,000 for the basic (16 GB, wireless, no 3G) version and goes up to R9,000 for the 64GB, wireless and 3G-enabled version. If you don’t care much for design or smudge-proof screens, Amazon’s Kindle is available right now for $250 (approximately R1,900). It ships free from Amazon’s website or you can buy it from the local online store for slightly more. Both devices need an adapter (as they come with standard US plugs), which comes at an additional cost of $4 (approximately R30).
Finally, the real eBook reader is definitely Amazon’s Kindle. For other times, when you need a Web browser, an eBook reader, a movie player, a jukebox and a photo album all rolled into one sleek device, turn to Apple’s iPad.