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Understanding the Types of Portable eBook Readers Available

Portable eBook readers aren’t the most popular digital media devices – yet. They are intended for a specific audience where convenience is desired for reading books, newspapers and magazines.

As many of the bestselling books are making their way to the digital world, portable eBook readers are starting to become even more popular and are even making an impact to the paperback market. 

This is because avid readers see the advantages of getting their favorite titles onto their eBooks where they can easily choose the book that they wish to read and easily control their flow of reading by interacting with the interface instead of turning the pages physically.

The only problem is that there are lots of different types of eBook readers coming from different makers that each has their own unique advantages and support for certain formats.

Amazon eBook Readers

The first Amazon eBook reader called Kindle was introduced back in 2007 and was aimed towards simplicity when it comes to reading eBooks.

The original model’s display measures 6 inches diagonally making them considerably smaller than laptops which means added portability. It also uses a keyboard for utilizing the other functions including word document support and Wikipedia browsing.

To make the wireless features completely free, the Kindle is equipped with a 3G capability which can be used to use wireless to retrieve purchased eBooks from Amazon in its proprietary format – the AZW format or receive e-mail.

The interesting fact about the Kindle is that it weighs less than a paperback and the readability is similar to reading an actual book thanks to electronic paper technology. It also supports other extras including an adjustable text size feature and support for other file formats including HTML, TXT, MOBI, partial PDF support, and the common image formats even though the display is 4-color monochrome.

The success of the Kindle gave birth to its successor the Kindle 2 which features a redesigned keyboard, thinner design, text-to-speech features, and better gray-scale display. The most recent model is the Kindle DX which features a much higher capacity at 4 GB, larger 9.7 inch display, and a built-in accelerometer for smooth transition between portrait and landscape modes.

Sony eBook Readers

Sony eBook readers have been around longer than the earliest Amazon Kindle and have an entirely different approach in attracting the readers. Sony offers a few entry level products that are inexpensive and compact with a 5-inch display.

These displays are known as the Reader Pocket Editions and have stripped features with the primary function to read Sony LRF format eBooks. Similar to ordinary portable media devices, these pocket sized devices have basic directional and menu buttons to navigate the device and other areas of the eBook.

There is another line-up of Sony eBook readers called the Reader Touch Editions that are slightly bigger at 6 inches and have a touch-screen interface for navigation rather than a full keyboard. Instead of focusing on large internal memory, these models have a card slot that can read the Sony Memory Stick Pro DUO format or SDHC formats.

The formats supported are quite wide although support for the widely used Mobipocket (MOBI) format is absent. Supported formats include PDF, TXT, and RTF files and a built-in DOC converter. It also supports some audio formats including MP3 and AAC as well as the basic image formats with the exception of animated GIFs. Limited RSS support is also included supporting 20 popular blogs.

Other eBook Readers

There are several other companies that are heading into the eBook reader market like Bookeen which produced the Cybook Opus which is an inexpensive 5-inch E-book reader that supports the basic formats and runs in Linux.

Another Linux-based eBook reader is the BeBook which supports more formats and comes in 5″ and 6″ models, but has less power making them best for reading basic RTF format documents.

All of the eBook readers available aim to smooth the transition from paperback to digital eBooks.

Deciding which eBook reader to get should be based on the preferred format and user interface as some eBooks are best for travelers while others are easy to use for home readers to get comfortable.

Fortunately, the vast majority of eReaders are affordable because they have monochrome displays and limited multimedia functions.  Upgrading to color displays and more features will add to the cost .

The good news is that the portable eBook reader have come down in price significantly, even those with greater features.

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