Sunday, July 11, 2010

What I want in an eReader

This year may turn out to be the year of eReaders, or electronic book readers. It is interesting to see the variety of new products that are being introduced now. Amazon's Kindle seems to have taken the lead in establishing the form factor that defines what an electronic book reader should be. When the iPad was launched, there was a period of uncertainty over the future of the Kindle and other similar products that also debuted at around the same time at the CES just prior to the iPad launch. Now that the uncertainty has cleared, electronic book readers are back on the commercial radar.

I like the Kindle form factor and I have no wish to see the role of a book reader being taken over by an all-purpose iPad or a tablet PC. The Quokka Pad is an example of a book reader that I think is "overdone". It has many features like calendar, voice recording, email, web access, wifi, bluetooth, etc. I think one would be better off getting an iPad in this case.

The ideal book reader should focus on making reading books the number one priority. I would look for these features:
- about the same size as a 6" Kindle, with electronic ink display
- built-in dictionary, and built-in MP3 player to listen to music while you read
- an clock display in a corner, with an alarm function.
- a progress bar showing which book you are reading and how far you have read
- reads books in audible format, as well as all other popular text formats
- easy to add books to the reader (drag and drop)
- as low cost as possible and much lower in price than an entry level iPad; hence no wifi, no touch screen, no qwerty keyboard. The problem with many book readers is that they are trying to do too many thing but read books.

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