Tech special: When e-reading is the ease of reading

Devices like the Kindle and Kobo are popular as they do away with the burden of carrying books and cut down on your money splurge too

For an avid reader, the transition from a paper book to an e-book is always a struggle. A gadget can never give the feel and satisfaction that a physical paper book can. T, the pleasure of flicking the papers, leaving behind your finger prints on each page and more than anything, the smell of paper - is simply divine. But one has to realise that with physical books there are always constraints of storage space, of carrying them on a holiday and the burden a paper book is on our limited resources of trees.


So, once you have made up your mind that you will start reading online, the next question is should you buy a different device for reading or simply read the books off your tablet? Yes, an e-reader is a single purpose device - well, some of them do offer the limited features of browsing etc, but at the end of the day they are just readers. But imagine holding your regular tablet in your hands and reading for a couple of hours, though they are designed to be light - they will lead to sore wrists very soon.

Plus with the prices for the readers dropping constantly, you should not even think twice before getting one. Also remember, most of the e-books are cheaper than the printed version, one e-reader can store thousands of books - so no more book clutter or the headache of carrying 10 paper books to a holiday, you can share them with your friends from the device itself without the fear that you might never get them back and more than anything, you are being eco-friendly.

There aren't many e-readers available in India, or that offer their libraries here, but fact is that the ones that are available are worth owning.

Kobo Touch: (Rs 7,999)
Like the Kindle Basic, Kobo Touch also has a six-inch screen, 800 x 600 resolution and supports the E-Ink Pearl display. The no-refresh, no-backlit experience of this monochromatic e-reader comes very close to a real book. The tactile raised quilted rear gives it a hint of luxury as well as a cushy feel. The display comes with 16 gray levels, rendering an image that is more robust and less grainy - a boon for those who need to see pictures along with their books.


Kobo also has no physical keyboard and can be navigated using the contextual on-screen keyboard. The touch screen control acts as a big boon; you can just tap the screen to turn the page or to bring up the navigation options - Kobo calls it the ‘Real Touch’. A slim silver coloured bar below the screen acts as a Home Button You can adjust the font as per your preferences - though the choice is slim with just two fonts, but you can choose from 15 different font sizes. Kobo comes with a multi language support, including English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch. A big plus for Kobo Touch is its support for books of almost any format, like PDF, EPUB, MOBI, TXT, RTF, HTML, CBZ, CBR. It even comes bundled up with an image viewing application, a video player, and Sudoku - to jog that sleepy brain.

Kobo Touch can store up to 30,000 books on its 2 GB in-built memory, which can be expanded up to 32 GB by using a microSD card. Sadly though the choice of books available in its library is way less than that of Kindle, but a wide array of newspapers and magazines makes a good read. You can also use Apps to sync your Kobo library with that on your Android, BlackBerry or iOS devices. Like Kindle, you can look up the meanings of any word or highlight passages for future reference.
Priced at an MRP of Rs 7,999, Kobo Touch is a great buy for book lovers, but one will always feel that they could have bought something better for the same or lesser price.

Kindle: (Rs 5,999 onwards)
Kindle is a name that has become synonymous with e-readers. At times, we even forget that it is one of the brands of e-readers and not the way to refer to e-readers as a whole. The Kindle Basic has a six-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 800x600 at 167 ppi. Kindle Basic uses “E Ink” technology, so with its sharp white background, crisp fonts, the ability to actually flick pages with your fingertips, and the fact that it is at the same brightness level as everything around you, makes reading off the Kindle almost as good as reading a paper book.


To make the reading experience more personal, the users can refine the look and the feel of the book according to their taste. You can change the size of the font, and whenever you initiate a change, it instantly appears on the screen – without having to save it or refreshing the screen. You can also change the line spacing and margins, so each book feels like it has been specially printed to meet your needs. The page turn process is also lightning quick, without ever giving the ghosting effect or making you wait for the next juicy bit. It even handles pinching and zooming of text at amazing speed. You can zoom into any area of the page when you need to read anything closely and then as easily pinch it back to its original size.

Language of the book should not be a barrier for understanding it. At least, it is not for a Kindle reader. It offers a great feature - translation. You simply have to select a specific word or the complete body of text and translate it from one language to another - currently 15 languages are supported. You can also refer to the built-in dictionaries for meanings of words that you are unable to understand. Another aspect that brings it very close to a paper is its ability to take notes and make highlights on the pages you are reading. These notes and highlights are saved for future reference and you can go back to them anytime you want.

Behind the plain exterior, there is a 1 GHZ Freescale processor and 512 MB Ram giving it the power to process all the information you need at a super speed and a 4 GB internal memory helps it store thousands of books and PDF files, without running out of space anytime soon. The Kindle Basic is supported by an amazing collection of books - both free and paid for, from Amazon, and comes at a great price of R5,999.  Though if you are in mood for something more refined, you could always go for Basic’s more expensive cousins -  The Paperwhite and the latest Voyage.

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