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EReaders: Kindle Versus Droid


I finally got my handes on Amazon's latest Kindle e-reader with E Ink's Pearl electronic paper display (EPD). I wanted to see how it compares to my Droid that I have been using as an e-reader since it was released. I use the open source FBReader app. I highly recommend it.

I'm a voracious reader. I usually have fifty or more ebooks on my Droid and now the Kindle. I prefer books without copy protection. It does limit the books I have access to but I get my sci-fi fix from Baen Books. I can buy ebooks online from Baen and download any format from EPub to HTML.

Baen's extensive list of titles will not be of interest to everyone but you can check out the Baen Free Library if you are interested. There are dozens of books you can read online or download to your Kindle or other e-reader. Check out their Webscription service.

On the plus side, having unencumbered books made it easy to check out the same book on multiple platforms. I use the open source Calibre ebook management application that can handle translation of one format to another just in case you don't have access to the right format for your e-reader.

So, back to the comparison. I like the Droid because it fits in my pocket and making it always available. It's screen size is about half of the Kindle's. Flipping pages is easy with a thumb tap or swipe. FBReader has a night mode with a thumb slide to adjust brightness.

The Droid's downside are the Kindle's advantages. Battery life is an issue with the Droid when using it for audio streaming especially when using Pandora over WiFi or 3G. Daylight is the bane of LCDs and that is true for the Droid.

Droid's Pearl display is great as long as there is light. It is the best in sunlight but worthless in the dark. E Ink's low power is well known. The Kindle doesn't fit in my pocket so it tends to get used less often than the Droid but I prefer the Kindle's display.

The Kindle is nice and thin but hard to hold, at least for me. I have large hands and getting a thumb on the page buttons is a one-handed balancing act. Otherwise the Kindle is nice for paging through a book.

I will probably continue to use both of the platforms. The Kindle is obviously more limited but its long battery life means I can pick it up anytime and just start reading. This is handy since I often read more than one book at a time.

I still have reservations about the Kindle. Why it doesn't have numbers on the keyboard seems like an oversight to me. It is annoying though.

Touch interfaces are getting cheaper and it is likely to be less expensive in the future to have a touch screen than buttons. It would definitely address the paging button issue.

Tablets are the buzz these days but e-readers still have their place. I suspect that E Ink's Triton color display (watch Color Active Matrix E Ink Triton Imaging Film) will breath new life into e-readers.

By the way, one problem I have been having with the Kindle is getting it to work with my Belkin N Wifi router. It works well with some 802.11g access points I have but it doesn't like the Belkin N router even with security disabled. Send me an email note if you have a solution to this problem.

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