Sunday, January 23, 2011

The e-reader review

Early in January I purchased an e-reader. I was completely surprised at myself because I LOVE real books -- the way they look, the way they feel, as well as the content.  But I had a good reason for wanting an e-reader: I travel a LOT, and I can't carry heavy bags to and through the airports. Three or four books in  the luggage, plus one or two in the carry-on, add a significant amount of weight to the total luggage situation.

So I did the kind of research I usually do when purchasing technology. I thoroughly looked into reviews of the various brands (Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, etc.).  I Google searched and I read every review I could find.

But I also had to pay attention to the bottom line.My target was $100.00 or less.

Some considerations: I didn't want to be tied into just one format and provider, as is the case with the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. I truly hate being a slave to one corporation unless there is a really compelling reason to do so. (That's the main reason that I don't own any Apple products.) E-books are plentiful and cheap on the internet -- many, many of them free. I wanted there to be some competition for my money when it came to buying e-books.

After doing some online research and then looking at a few demos, I purchased an Aluratek Libre Pro. I must confess that I almost succumbed to the Kobo at the time of purchase. But at $40.00 more, I was reluctant.  What if I hated it and wouldn't even use it for traveling? My target was to purchase a well-reviewed e-reader for $100.00 or less.

The Aluratek Libre Pro filled the bill at $99.00.

With the Libre Pro (not to be confused with the larger Libre Color), I can download an EPUB or .pdf format of book. EPUB is the most popular format available now -- from Borders, from Adobe, from, etc., etc., etc. That meant there would be lots of competition for my book-buying dollars, which is the way it should be.  In addition to the free ebooks I've found, I have been able to purchase books for as little as $1.79. And not one purchase has cost me more than $12.00 (even for new releases!).

My stated target of $100.00 was due to my uncertainty that I would actually like an e-reader at all. Yes, it's perfect for traveling. But would I like it for real life, sitting-on-my-couch reading? Surprisingly, I do! In fact, I love this thing! It took me a while to figure out how to handle the downloads through my computer, but I'm getting the hang of that quite nicely.

I love the convenience of this unit so much that I wondered if I'd made a mistake by not investing in the Kobo -- which has the slick "E-Ink" technology that the Libre lacks. E-Ink looks very much like a paper page and so is very easy on the eyes. In addition, the Kobo has a textured back, making it easier to hold in your hand.

I had a few hours on my hands so I went to Borders where they have the Kobo, the Libre, the Sony, and the Cruz available for hands-on demo. The whole thing had become especially tantalizing because the Kobo, which sports Wi-Fi that the Libre doesn't have, had gone on sale for $99.00.

Oh, heck, I thought -- had I jumped too soon in purchasing the Libre Pro?

After 20 minutes of putting each model through their paces as thoroughly as the demo allowed, I am very satisfied with my Libre Pro. No, it isn't as slim or as "sexy" looking or as light as the Kobo. No it doesn't have E-Ink technology. But it has all the basic e-reading functions that anyone could ask for. The screen is very readable, even in sunlight. And what the Libre Pro especially has is an extremely fast and smooth transition from page to page. The Kobo and the Sony both have this rather slow "fade out, fade in" transition that bothered my middle-aged eyes a LOT. The Libre Pro flows along with a very clean transition from page to page -- absolutely no eye strain. In my book (ha!), that is worth a great deal to the quality of the reading experience.

Thus did I, the quintessential bookworm with the floor-to-ceiling library, fall in love with an e-reader.

Oh, Aluratek Libre Pro, will you marry me?

- Catherine

No comments: