Having Fun With E-Readers And Tablets

When Johannes Gutenberg created the movable type printing process, around about 1439, it really transformed both book publishing and reading. A lot of historical experts consider it to be among the most important occurrences in contemporary history. It resulted in the mass production of inexpensive print books, vastly boosted literacy levels within Europe and was a key element in the renaissance, the reformation and the industrial and scientific revolutions. It, literally, placed printed books into the hands of the common citizen for the first time ever and laid the groundwork for our modern, knowledge based civilization.

Personal Electronics

In between Gutenberg's creation of movable type and the early 2000's, there wasn't a great deal of change in basic book design. There were certainly plenty of innovations in printing technology and productivity. Word processing and computerised printing methods minimized cost and time requirements, but the final product, the book, would have been easily recognisable to Gutenberg and his contemporaries.

It wasn't until the arrival of e-readers, beginning around 2006, that there was a further revolutionary change in the world of books. E-books and pdf documents had been about for a long time before that time, but they definitely required to be read on desktop or laptop computers. Whilst some of these at least were "mobile or portable", they were far from the convenient measurements and weight of a book.

As well as enhanced hardware and a significantly improved choice of e-books, e-reader hardware price tags were shrinking swiftly. The initial Kindle was priced at $399 when it hit the market in 2007. In February of 2009, the Kindle 2.0 went on sale at a price of $359.

This fell to $299 in October of the same year and in June of 2010, the Kindle 2.0 price was further reduced to $189 - triggered by the appearance of Barnes and Noble's Nook reader of course. Currently, you can pick up an entry level reader with a touch screen for no more than $79 - although there are also higher specified versions offered at significantly higher price tags. The mixture of cheaper prices, increased availability of e-books and the added benefits which e-readers possess has seen these devices establish themselves in the world of books very quickly indeed.

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If you need to navigate the web, play games and watch video clips, then you will probably be better served by a tablet computer. Their color touchscreen displays are perfect for this. You can also read e-books on a tablet computer, but it's a lot less pleasant than using an e-ink screen.

The text is generated using a mix of red, green and blue pixels and is therefore quite a bit less crisp. LCD screens are also backlit, and that makes reading on them a little like attempting to read while someone is flashing a light in your eyes. Reading is most definitely feasible on a tablet, but it's probably best not to do it for lengthy periods. You may get eye strain or even a headache.

The drawback with e-ink display screens is the fact that they are, for the moment at least, only offered in black and white. Study into full color e-ink displays is in progress, but for the moment, no such displays are readily available. E-ink screens also have a relatively sluggish refresh rate. They are certainly quick enough for reading through text, but they are really not suited for watching video, gaming or surfing the web. Nonetheless, considering that they are chiefly developed for reading text, that's not a major problem, but a color e-ink display with a fast refresh rate would help to merge e-readers and tablet computer functionality.


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