I had an exciting Saturday. I spent most of it trying to learn about e-readers and attempting to make a decision with regard to which model to buy for the school. I originally thought I’d be deciding between Kindle, Sony and Kobo, since those are the ones I have heard most about, but after nailing down the features I most wanted I was quite surprised at the outcome.
Since our initial purchases will be for struggling readers, I felt it was important that they had text-to-speech, font-size selection and an integrated dictionary. I also wanted an open source format so that we would not be tied to a particular e-book supplier and could access the plethora of free material available through our library system and on the Web.
In addition, I looked at the type of screen: eInk or ePaper, versus LCD. I have not had a chance to borrow a reader to check out the difference, but I find it difficult to read a lot of text on my computer screens and will need to discover if vision comfort is a make-or-break factor. Most dedicated e-readers have an eInk screen and most tablets are LCD.
A replaceable battery seems like an economically sensible feature so that one does not have to replace the entire unit if the battery fails. I considered a strong web browser more of a liability than an asset, in fact any internet access or games could be a distraction for reluctant readers, our target group. Almost all of those I looked at had some Internet applications and all had Wi-Fi.
Like several other brands I had not previously heard of, Sony, Nook & Kobo were eliminated early because they do not have text-to-speech capability: a must-have feature as I mentioned above. I took the Kindle off the list because books must be purchased through Amazon only, it is not library compatible and there is no replaceable battery.
The two that met all criteria were PocketBooks from the Ukraine and Pandigital. I still have to pin down Canadian suppliers and support. I may have to go back to my reject list! There is a decent, sortable comparison chart here Wikipedia. Pandigital is not even on it though. I found it first at Best-Buy.
So, no decision made as yet. I really want to hold a few in my hands and read from them. Hopefully then I’ll feel a little more confident.
Cartoon from Rhymes With Orange