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The Rise of eReaders
It doesn’t seem that long ago that people were laughing at the idea of electronic reading devices. While eReaders and eBooks may not have signaled a revolution and the end of the printed word, they have been quietly and steadily growing in popularity. The main reason for this is that the technology is improving, the choice of books and even newspapers and magazines offered in the electronic format is exploding and the price is coming down. With some new players entering the eReader market, things have gotten really interesting. So if you were looking to take the plunge and purchase an eReader where would you look? Well, in this article we’ll examine the top eReader manufacturers and suggest the best eReader devices to suit various requirements and budgets.
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Sony Reader Range
The Japanese electronics giant was one of the first companies to enter the eReader market and they offer a variety of devices. There is the pocket edition for maximum portability. It holds 350 ebooks, or there’s the more expensive and larger touch edition which can hold up to 13,000 ebooks with an added memory card and sports an interactive touch screen.
One of the nicest models in their range is the Sony Digital Reader Touch Edition. It is just under $300 and it combines portability with touch screen functionality. It is easy on the eye, can hold 350 books in the internal 512 MB memory and a full charge gives you two weeks worth of reading time. You can insert SD memory cards and it is happy with ePub or PDF formats. You can also use the virtual keyboard to type on it or even write freehand using the stylus.
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The Kindle range was released by Amazon and it was the first big competitor for Sony. There are small portable varieties and bigger Kindle devices available. They are thin and light and feature 3G wireless networking so you can access the Kindle book store anywhere. The Kindle devices also support audio and picture formats.
The 6 inch version is their most popular model. It holds up to 1,500 ebooks and a single charge will give you around a week of reading time. It supports the PDF format and even the doc format for your own documents. It also features a rotating display so you can hold it either way and there are controls along the bottom and a keyboard. It can download a book in less than 60 seconds and it even has a text to speech function so you can be read to. The standard internal memory is 2GB. It costs $259. Here is a review of the Amazon Kindle DX.
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New eReaders to be Released While the Kindle is dominating the eReader market right now there are two major competitors looming on the horizon. First up is the Barnes & Noble Nook which has a similar price to the Kindle but a more impressive feature set. Next is the ASUS dual screen eReader which is scant on official details right now but looks set to offer amazing functionality and a lower price than the competition.
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Barnes & Noble Nook
The Nook eReader from Barnes & Noble proclaims itself the most advanced eBook reader on the market. You can choose from 1 million titles and download them via 3G or Wi-Fi. With 2 GB of internal memory, there’s room for 1,500 titles and you can expand the memory with a micro SD memory card. The nook supports PDF files and it can also handle audio and picture files.
The Nook sports a full color touch screen and you can browse by flicking through covers or use the virtual keyboard to search. Another big plus with the Nook when compared to the competition is that you can lend eBooks to your friends for free for up to 14 days, a feature that is lacking in the Kindle. It doesn’t look like the Nook will be available until after Christmas but at $259 it could be a real contender.
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The next big release in the eReader market is the ASUS dual screen device. With a dual panel touch screen display and a host of features this looks set to make waves. There will be a premium and a budget device which is expected to be significantly cheaper than the current standard at around $150.
It will be full color and touted features include a webcam, web browsing capability and even a microphone so you could use it with Skype. You could read a book on one screen and message or browse the web on the other. The budget device is unlikely to include all these features but you never know with ASUS. They shook up the laptop industry by introducing cheap and reliable netbooks and there’s no doubt the competition will be keeping a wary eye on this move. Back in the summer ASUS announced this would be out by the end of the year but there’s no sign of it yet. We will keep you posted.
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eReader Verdict and Further Reading
The current market leader by a distance is the Kindle but with the Nook and the ASUS devices getting close to release Amazon may find their position challenged. The price and potential feature set for the ASUS device makes it the most attractive but until the price and features are officially announced we don’t know for sure. If I was to buy one in the next month I would save that Christmas money and go for the Nook, but if you can wait longer keep an eye on the ASUS device. If you're still undecided check out Lesser Known Electronic Reading Devices for more ideas.