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What are Digital Readers?

By R. Kayne
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Digital readers or ebooks are handheld pads that archive and display reading materials using technologies like electronic ink and flash drive storage. Thanks to incorporated cellular broadband in some models, one can use the ebook to search for and order a new bestseller at reduced prices for immediate download. These digital readers also allow users to subscribe to blogs, magazines or newspapers, delivered the moment they become available, hot off the press, even before hitting news stands.

Amazon is the arguable leader of digital readers with the Kindle® and Kindle® 2, a second-generation ebook. One of the differences between the two Kindles is that Kindle 2 has a built-in text-to-speech engine. If you should get tired of reading, you can always close your eyes and listen to the story instead. The text-to-speech feature is also nice for driving.

The Kindle includes free, third-generation (3G) cellular broadband for purchasing e-materials. Wireless cellular technology means these digital readers will connect to Amazon’s vast library 24/7 from anywhere there is cellular service; a doctor’s office, parking lot, park, or moving train. Never be without reading material when you really need it, and at just over 10 ounces in weight, it’s easy to stow in a purse or pack.

Another nice feature of digital readers like the Kindle is the crisp display of electronic ink that does not use backlighting and reads like paper. Not only can you see electronic ink in bright sunlight, you require light to read it. This makes digital readers with electronic ink a perfect choice for those lazy days on the beach, by the pool, or in the hammock on the back patio.

Another positive for the Kindle is that its cellular connection allows subscriptions to be delivered as they become available, though leaving the wireless feature on uses battery life faster than leaving it off. In either case these devices can run several days without requiring a recharge. Since a Kindle does not require a PC, it can even make a nice gift for seniors who don’t own a computer but enjoy reading.

Other ebooks include the Sony® Digital Reader®, iRex iLiad®, and e-Bookwise®. Not all digital readers use electronic ink and some incorporate touch-screen technology, so shop carefully before deciding which features are most important to you. Sony’s Digital Reader requires a USB connection to a PC to download materials, while the iLiad has built-in WiFi® for connecting to the home network, office, or local hotspot to purchase materials.

The range in price between digital readers is almost as vast as the range of features. Generally, prices start at about $135 US Dollars (USD) for economy models and go up from there.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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